To go home for Christmas or not to go home for Christmas? If you’ve been teaching abroad this year, you have inevitably had to make the decision. It might have been an easy decision, or you might have had to literally draw a table of pros and cons.
Since you’ve undoubtedly made the decision already, I’m going to take a light-hearted look at both options and reassure you that whichever option you chose, you’re probably right.
If you’re staying away for Christmas…
Enjoy the warm weather. Maybe you teach in the tropics but come from a cold northerly country. Indeed, maybe you teach in the tropics because you come from a cold northerly country, and can’t stand the cold weather. Why go back when it’s grey and cold? Make everyone jealous with photos of you drinking cocktails on the beach in a santa hat. Just wait until summer to visit, and then no one will expect presents.
Avoid awkward family moments. If you go home, you’ll be obliged to see your extended family. Maybe you have an embarrassing uncle, unbearable in-laws or obnoxious cousins. You will have to talk to them, and you will have to look like you’re enjoying it. If you just stay abroad, you can spend Christmas with whoever you want. Maybe you have made some new best friends in your host country, and would rather spend it with them.
Experience interesting culture collisions. If you stay away for Christmas, you will also have the chance to experience how it’s done in that country. Maybe you are in a Christian part of the world that pulls out all the stops for Christmas, or maybe you’re in a multicultural city where you’ll see inflatable Santas rub shoulders with Buddha or Ganesh. I always find it curious when tropical countries put up fake snow-scenes with reindeer and snowmen. Or maybe you’re in a part of the world where Christmas is barely acknowledged, and maybe that’s exactly what you want.
If you’re going home for Christmas…
Take a break from the weather. Maybe, on the other hand, you miss the weather back home. Maybe you’ve had enough of mosquitoes, dust, and not going out at midday. It would be nice, just for a little while, to be able to enjoy cool air, hot baths, misty mornings, and maybe even a little snow.
Home comforts. If you go home for Christmas you’ll be able to stock up on your must-haves that you just can’t find in your host country. For some people it’s Tetley tea, for some it’s Soap and Glory toiletries, for others it’s Vegemite. Plus you might rediscover some cute festive things that you’d forgotten existed, like Christmas top milk.
Long time no see. You’ll get to see your nearest and dearest, and regale everybody with your photos and stories. You’ll catch up with the friends you haven’t seen for too long. And who are you kidding? You love your embarrassing uncle and obnoxious cousins (in small doses, anyway).