I find that the hardest thing about living in a foreign country during the holidays, is the lack of extended family. While other folks spend Christmas day with grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, and herds of cousins - you are pretty much alone as a family unit.
If you are an immigrant, too, maybe you can relate to this feeling? Or maybe your family lives on the opposite end of the country, and you cannot afford the plane ticket or gas money to visit this year?
The only thing we have found to soothe the pain is creating our own family traditions. We have learned to find new ways to entertain the children during the many days they are off from school.
Last year we bought a giant puzzle to do over Christmas. After all the presents had been opened and members of the family were getting grumpy and suffering from cabin fever, I got out a 1000 piece puzzle. Since we could not afford to travel to Germany last year, we brought Germany to our dining room table. It took us 3 whole days to put the puzzle of Neuschwanstein Castle together.
At first there was a lot of sighing. Really mom? Do we have to do this. But after the picture started coming together the children were intrigued and wanted to finish.
This year we bought another puzzle. It was panorama view of New York City Time Square at night. This one was a real toughy. I thought we'd never figure out a way to put these pieces together.
I think doing a large puzzle as a family is a wonderful activity to do together. It's great to work as a team. We assigned different parts to different people. Guess what? Despite the fact that this puzzle was so much harder we finished it in 2 days. Awesome job family! Can't wait to pick one out for next Christmas. Unless, dare I dream ? - we get to go to Germany?