I can’t believe it’s December. Exactly one month since we started our journey, and time for the holidays. This post is part of a writing project for the Families on the Move Group. You can read the links below about what other traveling families are planning this holiday season.
We spoke to a friend in New York this week and she says the city feels like the holidays. It’s cold, holiday music draws shoppers into every store, and christmas trees are lined up for sale on street corners. I love New York City in the holidays. It’s the only time I don’t mind the tourist attractions because that’s where I can find roasted chestnuts. The holiday lights are enough to take the darkness out of 5 PM sunsets.
It doesn’t feel like Christmas in Chiang Mai. We’ve seen just two Christmas trees, one at a tourist-frequented night bazaar and the other by the airport. The only holiday song we’ve heard is jingle bells. From Ava. Ava sings jingle bells all year long.
The area’s celebrations such as Loi Krathong have been so festive that we’re not yet missing the holiday spirit. We’ve been able to spend time together, share stories and eat good food every day. At the heart of it, that’s what holidays are about anyway.
In a few weeks we’ll be celebrating Christmas with my parents in Goa, India. We won’t be bringing any boxed gifts. Two bags, four people and a year’s worth of items doesn’t leave room for purchases along the way. Also, if our short month on the road has taught us anything, its that experiences are much richer and more lasting than material goods that wear, get outdated, or lost.
We will be giving gifts, just not the material kind. Our gifts this year include the upkeep and medication for an orphaned elephant in the name of the recipient. Chiang Mai is home to many elephant orphanages that seek to provide safe environments for neglected, abused or overworked elephants. While we can’t replicate the same expriences we have had for our friends and family, we hope they agree these gifts are more meaningful, lasting and impactful than any handicraft we could have bought along the way.
We can’t speak for what we’ll receive this year. The kids have been happy with minimal toys and wev’e been fine recycling our week’s worth of clothes. Our bags are stuffed and our hearts are full. We’re looking forward to more time with loved ones around the tree and less time looking at what’s under.
What are other traveling families saying about Christmas?