This is our first Christmas in the UK. We have been super busy and extremely festive. It’s exciting. But it’s also a little sad to be so far away from most of our family. And to say that the seasons are a little different, well, that’s an understatement. I was wondering how it would be if the shoe was on the other foot. So, I asked a bunch of real moms to join in to my #RealMomsWhoTravel Christmas Special. I will be interviewing a number of real moms over the next few weeks. Most of these ladies are expats, or repats, who have agreed to a little fun Christmas interrogation! Without further adieu, welcome to Las.
Las is the blogger behind Queen Of Fire. She blogs mainly about life as an expat, and motherhood. A perfect fit if you ask me! Over to her.
Tell us a bit about you Las …
I’m never very good at talking about myself. I always overshare, but, in short (which I’m also not very good at, either!) my name is Lasairiona. I am a thirty ‘something’ year old stay-at-home-mom to my world travelling, third culture kid, Lewis who is four years old. Born in Northern Ireland, I’ve been an expat for just shy of a decade. We have had assignments in both Houston, Texas and Pune, India. My husband was made redundant about a month ago, so as of this week, we have repatriated to Northern Ireland. We hope that this is for the short-term, as we enjoy the expat life. We would like another grand adventure in the near future.
Will you be staying at home this festive season, or will you be travelling?
This Christmas we will be staying in Northern Ireland. Traditionally speaking this is unusual for us as we tend to remain in our ‘host’ country over the festive period. This year, however, will be the exception, not the norm. We are definitely looking forward to being in a country that celebrates Christmas again.
What do you miss about Christmas where you come from?
In India we found most holidays difficult, not just Christmas, but also Halloween, 4th July, Thanksgiving etc. The weather was HOT, even in November. I mean, we lived with this to an extent in Houston, but even there we had our days where it got relatively chilly and you needed a hoody. India just doesn’t do Christmas. They don’t have Christmas lights or decorations anywhere. While you can technically find decorations and what not, it definitely comes at a premium and the options are limited. The food isn’t the same, either. You have to get friends or family to either bring, or ship you stuff to make sure you don’t miss out on your favourite holiday foods.
What do you love about Christmas wherever you are now?
My dad took sick earlier this year in Northern Ireland. Being able to spend Christmas with him and the rest of our family here will definitely be a plus for us all. Lewis enjoys spending time with his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and they all spoil him rotten. More specifically, however, I’m looking forward to carol singing, I didn’t find a choir to join in Pune. And to the Belfast Continental Christmas Market in the grounds of City Hall. The weather, the Christmas lights, the market stalls, the excited holiday atmosphere that you’re surrounded by … it’s a very typically ‘Christmas’ feel that I just love being around – plus, they have great food, too.
What is the one Christmas tradition from home, that you have carried over to your new life?
Since my son was born, we started making cinnamon Christmas tree ornaments. They’re usually a complete disaster, the house ends up a mess, there’s puffy paint, or glitter paint on the tables, chairs, carpet, clothes and sometimes a little even makes it on to the cookies. But Lewis loves it and the house smells gloriously Christmassy for days with the sheer volume of cinnamon in the dough. Plus, they make great gifts to inflict on family members that simply MUST keep your child’s (clearly inspired) piece of art work and hang it on their tree EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.
I know you said just one, but hanging out with friends is another one. I love surrounding myself with people. As expats, when we live so far away from our family and many of our friends, we find ourselves making our own little expat family wherever we go. There’s nothing I love more than hosting one of my little Christmas parties for the kids. Having a dozen or so little ones decorating cookies and doing Christmas crafts, while the mums have a potluck lunch and bring various baked goods with them for a cookie exchange. I can’t ever imagine a Christmas where I don’t host some kind of holiday ‘thing’ – but my friends will tell you that that’s an every day, or every holiday thing, not just a Christmas ‘thing’.
What is your Number 1 Tip for surviving travelling over the festive season.
It’s okay to say ‘no’. Don’t stretch yourself too thin.
As Expats, when we go back to our home country, there is often an expectation of us to do most of the back and forth, travelling around the country to visit people. You should aim to meet people in the middle. Stick to your kids routines. Set boundaries and expectations. I know that people roll their eyes at me sometimes when I say I need to be home by Lewis’ bed time, but they don’t have to live with the overtired Tasmanian devil who loves his twelve hours of sleep, just because they want to spend an extra hour or two with him over the holidays.
Our first Christmas in Houston, we went back to Northern Ireland. We had no child, it was just my husband and I, but we spent the days around Christmas driving back and forth between his family and mine (64 miles/80 mins) Christmas eve we did both houses, Christmas day we did both houses, Boxing day – yup, we did both houses. Below freezing, dark, and up and down that road like a yo-yo. By New Years Eve we were both sick with chest infections, exhausted, and just wanted to go back to Houston for a rest.
Don’t feel obliged to run around the town and country for anyone. Prioritise yourself and your family. It’s a busy time of year for everyone, it’s not a reasonable expectation of yourself, to fit everyone in.
What did you ask Santa for this year?
With my husband being laid off a month ago, I honestly haven’t thought about my own Santa list. I’ve been busy packing up the house and family and moving back across the world. Getting Lewis a school spot, getting a phone set up, cars, and all those ‘things’ that you need to sort out when you move country (thankfully we had an apartment already waiting for us when we got here!) I usually give Lewis an advent calendar of books, I don’t have anything bought for him for Christmas and I’m usually the Queen of organisation, so being this disorganised, this close to Christmas, has me up to high doe – as we say in NI.
I think if I were to take a moment and give it a thought, there’s a lovely spa in a neighbouring town I’d love a massage in as things have been pretty stressful and crazy lately. Or, my itchy feet would love a weekend across to London to visit a friend from India who has recently moved there. We had to cancel our Diwali vacation to Thailand because of everything that was going on, so I’d love a wee weekend somewhere to go exploring and show Lewis something new!
Thanks so much Las! That sounds so right, especially the bit about breaking your back to visit everyone when you go home on holiday over the festive season.
Please do visit Las’s blog and check her out on social media.
- Blog: www.lasandcolgotexan.com
- Instagram: @Icemaiden013
- Facebook group: @icemaiden013
- Twitter: @icemaiden013
Las – please feel free to grab the #realmomswhotravel Christmas Special badge and display it on your blog if you want to.
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Merry Christmas everyone!