So when I’ve thought about spending Christmas away from home it usually involves a beach, hot sun and a barbecue….but this year, my first abroad, was a somewhat different kind of Christmas.
Being a predominantly Hindu country, Christmas is not widely celebrated, except by the expat and the minority Nepali Christian community. There was a smattering of Christmas trees and tinsel for sale in the area where I live – ‘NGO’-land as I like to call it. But around the rest of Kathmandu there was little evidence of the upcoming festivities. To be honest it was nice to get away from the ever growing commercialisation that starts ever earlier in the UK. Hearing from my friends how they are glad that Christmas is over and they have ‘survived’ really brings it home to me how over the top we have become in the West.
We all have our traditions around this holiday time, the things we like to do, the people we like to see and for me I knew I would have to lay some of those aside and embrace new ones. I had a fleeting vision of me sitting alone on Christmas day with the cat in my Santa hat, sharing a chicken breast (I am yet to find turkey), but thankfully that was not to be the case.
Christmas Eve, following a carol service by candlelight, I was invited to my Norwegian friend’s home for a traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner – they celebrate on Christmas Eve. As I looked round the table of 10 with 7 different nationalities represented and tucked into lamb, which had been flown over from Norway, I felt truly blessed to have the opportunity to celebrate in a different way.
Christmas Day itself, was spent with my Australian friends at a Nepali Church celebrating Christmas the Nepali way. It was a huge celebration with singing, dancing, drama and eating and even though I couldn’t understand half of what was going on it was a joyous occasion.
And as for family, whom I knew I would miss most….well through the beauty of FaceTime and the 6 hour time difference I could still share some of Christmas day with them. Mum and Dad even waited to open their presents with me – yey for technology!
Definitely a different kind of Christmas….but then maybe that’s not a bad thing.