Christmas has come in many guises for me since I left home for Japan as a 21 year old. What started off as a two year teaching contract has turned into nearly 6 years away from home and counting. So it has meant I’ve celebrated a fair few Christmases without my family, although I have been lucky to have my sister join me once in Japan and once in the UK. Happily though there have always been a few other ‘Orphans’ around to help me celebrate.
I have celebrated Christmas cross-legged on a tatami floor, warm and cosy under a friend’s kotatsu table, drinking Asahi beer and eating so much food while the snow fell outside. This was the first year I spent away from my family and I decorated my apartment with tinsel sent from home and origami my students taught me to make. This was my first Northern Hemisphere Christmas and, although strange at first, I did come to love the wintry snowy Christmas.
Life in Japan was still very new for me, but I was slowly settling in and making some friends. I was so grateful for all the other teachers staying in japan over Christmas, it helped to make the time feel more festive. Especially as the Japanese don’t really celebrate Christmas. Here is a bunch of us getting into the spirit by carolling in the lead up to Christmas. Snow was falling and it was pretty magical.
I’ve spent it on the tropical Okinawan Islands. There we partook in the Japanese Christmas tradition of a Kentucky Fried Chicken Dinner. True story, KFC is synonymous with Christmas in Japan and we had to give this custom a go.
We were treated in the evening to a lovely festive spread by the hostel we were staying at. Our eccentric Japanese host cooked a chicken and we ate our way through traditional and non-traditional side dishes in the eclectic hostel common room. I remember a German guy snorting wasabi at one point and partying with some Czech guys who were obsessed with their snuff (tobacco). It was one of the most random Christmases I’ve had.
My first Christmas in London was spent around a tiny dining table wearing shiny new Christmas jumpers in a cosy North London flat. I remember bucks fizz, egg-nog and a charades match that got a bit out of hand. We were hosted by some lovely Aussies who we now count as very good friends.
I’ve celebrated in a spacious country house on the outskirts of Bath, with a big group of friends and a massive Ocado order. Although it was the first time many of us had cooked our own Christmas dinner, we pulled it off like pros. I was in charge of the roast potatoes (I used goose fat, it was a success!) and after dinner we wandered round the cute little neighbourhood in the fresh winter sunshine.
My bangin’ roast potatoes ^^
Last Christmas we celebrated with Ben’s family in Italy. Ben’s brother spends his winters working at a ski chalet for British guests. So when Ben’s parents visited from New Zealand last year, Ben and I went out to meet everyone there for the holidays. We spent Christmas day having sparkling Prosecco in mountain chalets and skiing the Dolomites until sunset.
This year we’re getting ready for our 6th Orphan’s Christmas. Our jumpers are at the ready and we’re putting up some decorations. We’re currently living with a master Pavlova maker too so dessert is sorted.
We’re looking forward to having a truly Kiwi Christmas next year though, when we make the trip home to see our families and friends. I can’t wait to spend the day in the day in the sun with a BBQ dinner, lots of NZ wine and a wander along the beach to kick off the lazy summer holidays.
I’ve added this post to a monthly travel link up. I’ve been meaning to join in for a while and this month stars aligned, (read: I learned of the topic in time and it was something I could write about yay!) so I’ve added my post. Check out some of the other awesome takes on this month’s theme The Festive Season, below.