Once, 9 or 10 years ago, I spent Christmas alone. I was alone in a new town, 1500 miles away from my family and friends, and couldn’t get time off from my new job. I figured it would be no big deal, it was just another day. Boy, was I wrong. I swore I would never spend Christmas alone again. Of course, I wasn’t planning on moving to a foreign country…
Luckily, we went home earlier this month, and we had an early Christmas with our families. It was nice to see everyone and open gifts, and see genuine joy when someone opened a gift I had picked out just for them. But at that time, I hadn’t really gotten into the “Christmas spirit,” so it wasn’t quite right.
We didn’t do any decorating for Christmas in the apartment – we didn’t bring any decorations, and I didn’t want to buy anything just for our time here. It seemed kind of a waste. The town put up a couple of big trees, and the streets were lit with lights, but not many homes had visible decorations – no driving around and looking at Christmas lights this year!
Most of our friends were traveling for the holidays, but there were three of us American couples still here. We decided to have a big Christmas Eve dinner. There’s a tradition in Finland to light candles in the cemetery and put them by the headstones, so before dinner we took a walk to the local cemetery to check it out. It was very beautiful and peaceful, all the candles lit and illuminating those who are gone.
Christmas morning, Stephen had some gifts to unwrap, but I had gotten my gifts when we were with family earlier this month, so I didn’t have anything. That didn’t bother me though – what truly bothered me was not seeing loved one’s faces light up on Christmas morning as they opened a gift that made me think specifically of them. Sure, I had seen that earlier this month, but it didn’t coincide with Christmas Day. It’s silly that that little thing makes a difference, but it does.
I think I’ll go ahead and do some shopping now for Christmas next year, so I can decorate. Maybe that will make it feel more festive. And next year, we need to skype while our families open gifts, so I can see the joy on their faces.