Thursday, December 29, 2011

What Does the Christmas Season Mean to You?

by Expat Focus columnist Piglet in Portugal

For me Christmas means many things; the birth of Christ and Christmas carols, quality time with family and friends, Christmassy food & decorations and of course snow on Christmas day. But as I pause to review preparations for this year’s Christmas festivities and the joy of two baby grandchildren, memories are rekindled of Christmases past and I pause to remember the loved ones who are no longer with us.

Christmas can be a lonely time for many expats or indeed anyone rich or poor, who is, for whatever reason, separated from their loved ones during this festive season.

However, it may not only be family and friends you are missing but also traditional foods and even the weather. The weather says she? Yes, unfortunately I’ve noticed we Brits do have a tendency to dwell on the weather. For instance, does Christmas day on the beach sipping champagne and eating mince pies in the sunshine while paddling in the sea with Santa resonate “Christmas” in quite the same way as a “White” Christmas back home? Perhaps absence makes the heart grow fonder, and a “White” Christmas is actually only an illusion promoted on Christmas cards. In truth, the chance of a white Christmas is extremely slim. The reality is probably closer to heavy rain, fog, black ice, traffic chaos and severe weather warnings kindly issued by over-anxious TV or radio presenters. “Do not travel unless absolutely necessary”, they caution. Does this sound familiar?

But we can dream.

Maybe a beach Christmas, although not traditional, is not such a bad deal after all! However, before you start yearning for a warm sunny Christmas day on the beach. it might surprise you to know that in our corner of Portugal it has rained on the last two Christmases.

What about Christmassy food? Which foods do you associate with Christmas? When I think of a traditional English Christmas dinner I always think of roast turkey served with sage and onion stuffing, roast potatoes, brussel sprouts and parsnips, followed by Christmas pudding or mince pies served with brandy butter and oodles of thick double fresh cream. Goodness, my mouth is watering already; the taste buds are jumping for joy in anticipation and the heartburn tablets are already within reach!

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