American Thanksgiving has just passed, and the holiday spirit is gripping everyone– expats and nationals alike.
Within my community, Thanksgiving is a bittersweet holiday. Going home is impossible. We don’t get any days off to celebrate, so even making a pumpkin pie (if you can find pumpkin, that is) seems like an impossible task. However, celebrating Thanksgiving in Indonesia is a unique experience– friends gather instead of families (in an almost sit-com-esq manner) and we all are reminded of how lucky we are to have jobs, safe places to live, and people to support us.
The weather here isn’t crisp– in fact, in just the past week, rainy season has really begun, with its predictable 2:00 pm thunderstorms and traffic-stopping floods. Regardless, the school is decked out in Christmas paraphernalia. Christmas trees, wreaths, and blinking lights are scattered across the different floors, my students demand to listen to Christmas music during independent reading times, and every expat starts craving peppermint mochas (another holiday favourite that doesn’t exist in Indonesian Starbucks.)
Most of us wont be going home for Christmas– tickets to America are 400USD more expensive (at least!), and many of us are waiting until summer to use our company-paid ticket, since we are given a stipend for the cost, and it would be significantly short if we used it now. Therefore, we all sigh and miss Christmas and the feeling of being with family and the familiarity of our home countries. So, we celebrate in different ways. Making Christmas cookies, watching “Home Alone,” writing Christmas cards, visiting the German Christmas Market.
It’s not the same as being home. (It’s not even close to being the same.) But, in Expat-land, we’re all in it together.