I have always spent Christmas with mom, even after leaving high school and college – I always came home or she would come to visit me. There’s no skipping Christams with mom because (1) she loves Christmas time and all the cooking and all of the traditions that go along with it and (2) because Christmas is mom’s birthday. In theory I could probably miss Christmas with mom or I could miss mom’s birthday, but missing both at the same time – unforgivable. But there was one year, 10 years ago, when I was in Asia as part of my round the world trip and I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it home for the holiday/birthday. Tickets to fly round trip from where I was staying in Thailand back to the States were just a weeeee bit out of my back packer budget at the time. So my travel friend and I decided to stay put and soak up the Thai culture for Christmas. Little did we know that we’d be hard pressed to really find much Thai culture on the island where we were staying.
Instead we watched as tourists from all over Sweden came and took over the island. The locals must have been used to this, because they were totally prepared with Swedish meatballs, Swedish flags and mulled wine at all the local restaurants.
The original plan was to head to Cambodia and spend Christmas there, but after a few days on the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi enjoying the relaxing beaches and getting to know the local “scene”, we kinda wanted to spend the holiday in as close to a place we could call home as is possible when you’re backpacking. (The decision to stay may also have been slightly influenced by the fact that someone had told me that in Cambodia a great, big roach had called up their pant leg and bit them. Thailand it is!!). I continue to find it interesting that even though I was surrounded by two very different (and at the time ) unfamiliar cultures – Thai and Swedish – I still had a sense of being among family and familiar faces. Which, given the backpacker’s transient lifestyle, could be someone you’ve know for a grand total of 3 whole days. These new friends shared their mulled wine and let me borrow their red Santa hat while trying to teach me a few words in Swedish. It may not have been the most traditional Christmas, and it won’t replace being with mom for the holiday/birthday, but it was good to see the holiday spirit alive in well in cultures from different corners of the globe. Have you ever spent a Christmas or Holiday away from your family/ friends. Was it a good experience or something you hope to never have to do again?