Christmas is undoubtedly my favourite holiday of the year for obvious reasons (pssst… it’s my birthday! :P). It will be my second Christmas in the US, but only this year I am starting to notice more things about Christmas here because last year’s Christmas was like a whirlwind – I was too busy with moving, adjusting, and everything.
Although I don’t celebrate Christmas religiously, I have been celebrating Christmas all my life. To me, Christmas used to mean family gatherings, which means food, presents, and more food. Here in the US, I began to view Christmas a little bit differently.
As I am celebrating my second Christmas in the US, I can see how everyone is excited about Christmas. People would start to decorate their houses with lights as soon as Thanksgiving passed. Speaking of decorations, they are no joke!
Yes, people would decorate their houses like that. Another common thing that people here like to do as Christmas is approaching is buying gifts. I am familiar with gift exchange as I used to do that with my family back in Indonesia, but it seems like Americans give gifts to everyone. Colleagues, friends, family, even the mail lady or your newspaper boy! It’s similar to how THR is during Lebaran in Indonesia, but instead of giving money, it is more common to give a present here.
There is a unique gifting tradition in the US that I just discovered called White Elephant. It is a game where a group of people exchange gifts with one another. However, there is a special rule which lets people steal your gift. So what happens is you gather with your group and each person bring a present that they will swap with each other. Everybody has to open their present in public and the next person has the option to steal the previous person’s present or open a new present. It’s interesting and can be a great party activity especially if played with people that you are close with!
All in all, I can see now that Christmas here means more than just food and extra holiday. It means celebrating the presence of the loved ones in your life – and because Americans like small talks a lot, Christmas can also mean extending your good wishes and positive vibes to everyone that you meet on the street. It can be as simple as saying “Happy Holidays” to the cashier lady in the grocery store or listening to your barista’s holiday plans while she was making your latte 🙂
I hope you are surrounded by warmth and love this holiday season, wherever you are. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Sunny California ❤
This post is the first out of a blogging series titled “Stories from the West” which I am doing with Dixie of Her Little Journal blog. We will be writing 1 post each month with the same topic, which revolves around living abroad and settling down in a new country. We are both from Indonesia and we moved to a new country around the same time. She now lives in West of Sweden while I am here in the West Coast of USA, hence the project title 🙂 I hope you’ll enjoy our stories, and don’t forget to read Dixie’s here.