I can't explain it.
Orchard Rd. is covered in the most obnoxious Christmas lights you can imagine. Glorious but obnoxious.
Every mall in the area has their decorations and trees up, and every block is a different holiday color scheme.
Tanglin Mall shoots fake snow into the air every night at 7:30-ish for the kids to play in.
Every building and store I walk into has Christmas music playing. But I'm not feeling very Christmasy.
My sister is convinced it's because I fell asleep during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and didn't see Santa close out the show. It's an interesting theory that may, in fact, have merit. This was the first year that I missed the majority of the parade. I was watching it live via a Skype call and could not keep my eyes open after the first few floats. Never having been a night owl, the 14 hour time difference killed me this year.
Many expats find that Singapore's tropical weather puts a damper on their holiday spirit. Others find that either not going home for the vacation, or not having guests visit instead, is the culprit.
For me, I'm thinking it's a combination of things.
For sure, the weather plays into the mood - not much, but a little. The heat doesn't bother me that much and, thanks to it being the rainy season, we are inconvenienced by massive thunder storms more often than we would be digging out from snow if we were back home. So, that's nearly the same...only less strenuous (shoveling) and not freezing.
OK, so it's not the same, but you know what I mean.
This year, nobody from my side of the family is coming to visit us, but we will be having a guest for a week. Neil's mom is coming in, and all of us are thrilled to get to spend time with her. It really wouldn't be Christmas at all if Grandma Louise didn't bring the enormous stockings she makes up for the boys every year.
I haven't done any baking yet, and that is contributing to my lackluster feeling. However, it seems silly to bake dozens and dozens of cookies and brownies, etc, like I used to, when we're the only ones to eat them. Lord knows, the last thing my ass needs right now is a couple dozen cookies. I used to give trays of goodies to the teacher's lounges at the school and to special teachers but now that the boys are in middle and high school, we don't really do teacher gifts anymore. With so many people leaving for the holidays, delivering baskets to friends is really not an option either.
I think the hardest thing for me to adjust to, actually, has absolutely nothing to do with being an expat or being away from home over the holidays. It has everything to do with my kids.
They are growing up and, since the boys are older now, the secret planning and shopping days are over. We stopped doing the ridiculous pile of presents under the tree years ago. Don't get me wrong, I like that we're not so focused on the gifts anymore, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss seeing the boys' eager faces Christmas morning and their excitement while opening stockings and presents.
The anticipation is gone.
Also, I'm a huge fan of traditions and I'm having a hard time finding new ones that work for us me. We don't make reindeer food, or cookies for Christmas Eve anymore. The boys don't care where Santa is on NORAD's tracking system and we're not sneaking the gifts under the tree late at night anymore. I can't even remember the last time we watched a Rudolph or Frosty movie. And, teenagers are happy to sleep in Christmas morning and aren't knocking at the bedroom door at some ungodly hour in the morning.
I miss these things. Yes, even the early wake up call.
I know, in time, we'll find new routines and traditions but I feel like I'm in limbo right now, and I have to tell you, I don't like it so much.
Nope. Not one little bit.
So, in an attempt to get my holiday mojo back, after dinner tonight, I'm starting the baking. Neil stocked my cupboards with all the necessary ingredients for our usual family favorites of cream cheese brownies, chocolate crinkle cookies and secret snaps, so I'm good to go. I'm not sure what we'll do with it all when I'm done but we'll cross that bridge later. Perhaps with a little Christmas music in the background and the smell of chocolate drifting through the house, I'll start getting into the spirit of things.
Much to my youngest's chagrin, we will not be listening to Bob River's Christmas album. I don't think I can take "Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire" right now, which is his current Christmas favorite.
Tell me, what are the traditions that mean the most to you? Is it the family exchanging gifts, or that one special dish that your mom makes? What gets you into the holiday mood?
Or if your kids have grown, how did you adjust to the change in your traditions?
I'm needing some inspiration.
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