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December 12, 2012

When I Wasn't Home for Christmas or Celebrating the Holidays Abroad
(Blog in France Christmas Blog Hop Participant)

            The first year after we moved abroad, we couldn’t go home because (a) we needed the days to ensure we spent enough time out of the country for the tax deduction for living abroad and (b) we couldn’t afford four tickets to the US. Not that we suffered as a result. We could afford four tickets to Mexico where my husband was from, and my parents and grandmother met us there. I believe it was the one and only time my grandmother ever left the US, and I’m glad we were able to share some of my husband’s family traditions and the beautiful sights in and around Mexico City with her and my parents.
            Since then, as a family we’ve celebrated the holidays in a number of different countries and every one has been memorable and moving. Once, we toured Israel and Egypt and went to Bethlehem days before the city was turned over the Palestinian state. Nativity Square was very barely visible through the Palestinian flags and photos of Arafat strung across all the buildings. Another time we were in Austria and attended a midnight mass in a small church that looked as if it had been plucked from a postcard. We didn’t understand the words, but the beauty of the church and the choir’s songs still provided us with the peace and joy of the season. At a minimum, we’ve heard services in Spanish, French, Russian, and German.
            The trickiest part was ensuring that Santa could find us. Sometimes he delivered the gifts to our home and the children found them upon their return. Other times, Santa would find us and leave small gifts in the hotel or home where we were staying.
            Over the years, we’ve made certain that we observe a few family traditions to keep the season special no matter where: attending a service wherever we are, advancing or postponing gift-giving when we can share with our extended family, and a special meal for shared together. In the attached picture you can see us celebrating in India (the traditional Indian musicians are in the background.)
            What about your experiences? Any tips for keeping the holidays special regardless? One lucky commenter will receive a copy of REINDEER WARS!

A short excerpt from Reindeer Wars (available in paperback and eBook from Amazon and in eBook from Barnes and Noble and Kobo.)

The cart Tina was pushing collided with something, and she heard a humph from the side. The rather precariously assembled mountain of old claim files wobbled, and those on the summit slid forward. Another yelp followed their descent.
            What the--?
            She peered around the still teetering towers, but saw nothing.
            Why had Mr. Collins piled them so high?
            The sound of paper shuffling rose from the other side of the cart. Her throat constricted, and she squeezed past the cart in the narrow passageway between the office cubicles to check out which employee she’d hit.
            Please let it be Mr. Collins. He deserves it. Just don’t let it be—
            Her stomach twisted into a knot. Of course it was Brian Foster. Who else?
            The newest salesman of Judicious Insurance crouched on the floor, rubbing his thigh with one hand and holding a file folder in the other. Papers littered the area around him.
            “Are you all right?” she asked.
            He squinted up at her. “I think so.”
            Kneeling beside him, she gathered up the fallen documents and reached for the one he still held. “I’m so sorry. Mr. Collins loaded the cart. I should’ve made two trips, but we only have one cart, and I didn’t have any place to put them because my desk is already full from the end of year re—”
            “Mr. Collins?” he asked, rising to his full height. He held out a hand and pulled her to her feet. “You’re in claims, right? Tina Martins?”
            With a dip of her chin, she pulled her hand from his grasp and clutched the papers she still held to her chest. His hand had been warm and strong, and the power from his touch continued to surge through her body. “I’ll…uh…Let me pick up this mess, and I’ll get out of your way.”
            Unable to meet the man’s gaze, she bent over to retrieve the rest of the papers. He leaned over at the same time, and a sharp crack resulted when their heads met.
            Could this get any worse?
            She met his gaze over the spilled papers, expecting to receive an angry glare in return. Instead, the most beautiful pair of honey-tinted eyes gave her a wide stare.
            Oh, God. I’ve given him a concussion.

Return to the BlogEnFrance Christmas Blog Hop by clicking here or click on the blog links below!


Liese said...

Hey! Bon jour! Feliz Navidad! Cnovom Godom!

Leave a comment for a chance at a copy of REINDEER WARS!

Evelyn said...

Knowing that Christmas as an ex-pat in France might be difficult, I brought some of my favorite Christmas music CD's, my collection of santons, and a small burlap Christmas hanging that my son did as a child. Just the right reminders for me!

Liese said...

Great idea! A touch of home can be a great way to keep in touch!

Patricia said...

I love hearing stories of people's experiences living outside the U.S. Sounds a bit difficult to pull of celebrating Christmas, but you did it! And you have a wealth of good memories.

Liese said...

This has been interesting blog hop. It's fun to hear how others try to maintain traditions while incorporating new ones!

Kathleen Bittner Roth said...

I live in Budapest and love Christmas here. Maybe it was because of the prior communist supression, I don't know, but Budapest is lit up so beautifully throughout the holdiays. There are Christmas Marts in several places where only handmade Hungarian goods are sold; people are friendly and invite me into their home to join them in their traditional dinners and festivities. I feel honored to have experienced Christmas in Hungary.

Liese said...

Wow! What a great experience. I've never been to Budapest, but hope to go someday.

Steve Bichard said...

A a wonderful Christmas Lies from a fello blog hopper.

Liese said... picked Evelyn as the winner of a copy of REINDEER WARS. Congrats, Evelyn!

Liese Sherwood-Fabre