Here's the thing, expat Christmases are a little weird. It's everything you would expect it would be in your home country but there are glaring omissions that as much as you try to ignore them they're still there like that fruitcake you got in the office White Elephant gift exchange 5 years ago.
Brightly coloured packages under our tree are few and far between. It's mostly amazon boxes and envelopes.
Presents are opened via Skype. We can't hug them to say thank you all we can do is try to explain in words from a lot of kilometers away that we love that they thought of us.
We're missing a third first Christmas of a little one we love very much.
The Christmas ornaments on our tree make us smile. But it's not the smile of "oh this was bought for our first married Christmas" or "ooooh remember when we were given this?" All those ornaments are safely tucked away in a box in Canada. All we brought with us were our stockings which give us that knowing smile of 7 Christmases together.
You don't worry as much about whether people will actually like their gifts. You're more worried about the gifts arriving on time....or at all. Right now according to Canada Post one package hasn't even made it to Canada yet and it was sent in November and another while it may be in the city in which my parents currently reside and has been since yesterday they're listing the estimated delivery date as the 27th.
There are Christmas specials on TV but they're not OUR Christmas specials.
You cry a little....okay....a lot....okay...I cry...a little....alright...a lot....
But we make the most of it. We have each other and we've always said as long as we have each other and plenty of snacks we'll be okay. And this time of year there are plenty of candied almonds and gluhwein to get us through.
We do have something else though. We have cards with notes of love that make far away seem a little less far. We have wishes from family that we were there with them and not here without them. We have the knowledge that we are so missed but so loved.