Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas


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!

Image from: http://imged.me

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.

365/365

If you have been following me on Instagram, you might have seen a project that I have been doing for the past year. Started when I arrive in the US a year ago, I put out a picture every day on Instagram with the hashtag #ChristasFirstYear. Well, picture no.365 is still on the draft because I wanted to take a break from Instagram for a bit (posting each day for a year turns out to be a little bit overwhelming), and I also noticed that I have been feeling quite a lot of emotions leading up to day 365! 

You see, I am the type of person who are so used to having plans, checklists, projects, and all that. Every year I like to reflect on my life’s adventures that year and I would expect to see some accomplishments – travel to new places, career related, relationship related, anything that can give me a sense of progression. Unfortunately, as I look back at the past year, at first I found it hard to see that I am progressing this year. 

It made me sad and affected my mood for a couple days, I even had a small breakdown during a video call with my mother and R. I had this urge of wanting to limit contact with my friends in Indonesia because I felt jealous to see how their life is progressing while I felt that mine is not. Poor R did not know what to do, and I did not know what he could do to make me feel better. It wasn’t until I heard my mother’s words that I really get it. 

Life is not always about plans, checklists, projects, progression, and all that. Sometimes life can put you on hold, letting you navigate through it in your current situation. The situation for me is that I am still waiting for my permanent residency, and the chance to finally settle as a resident here. It’s okay. It takes longer than I expected, but it’s okay. 

Come to think of it again, I am being unfair to myself if I think that my life hasn’t been progressing at all this year. The progress may be different than what I planned and projected. But once I was finally able to see the silver lining of my current situation, I can now see the kind of progress that I’ve been making this year. As a newlywed, I have been progressing to become a better partner for my husband. My mother always said that getting married is a lifetime process of learning and understanding, and I think we are moving in the right direction. As a new immigrant, I am progressing too! At least now I can navigate myself through this city that I’m living in and I can definitely take you around Los Angeles if you decided to visit me 😉 And as for myself in general, this year has taught me that I have more patience and strength that I can ever imagine. 

That, my friends, is how I believe my life is still progressing despite everything that is happening 🙂 Thanks for reading and wishing you happy holidays! It’s getting festive here and I hope it is in your place, too 🙂

Tempat Tinggal di Amerika

Jadi setelah saya nulis post yang ini tentang gaya hidup di Amerika, saya jadi punya beberapa ide tulisan tentang hidup disini yang ingin saya share di blog. Pas banget tau2 kemarin Rika ninggalin komen soal bedanya rumah di Finlandia (tempat dia tinggal) sama di Amerika. Jadilah saya mau ceritain soal tempat tinggal di Amerika hasil observasi selama saya disini hehehe.

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Gaya Hidup di Amerika

Iya, judulnya sengaja saya bikin begitu buat clickbait 😛 hehe. Oke jadi saya ingin cerita soal keuangan dan gaya hidup di Amerika, tepatnya sih di California Selatan tempat saya tinggal. Ide cerita ini muncul setelah baca twit nya Crystal soal pandangan (kebanyakan) orang di Indonesia terhadap orang yang tinggal di luar negeri.

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Pertama Kali Nonton Football

Hari Minggu kemarin saya diajak si R nonton pertandingan NFL. Buat R yang emang hobi nonton pertandingan olahraga, waktu itu bukan pertama kalinya dia nonton pertandingan football secara langsung. Tapi buat saya, kemarin adalah pertama kalinya saya nonton pertandingan football secara langsung.

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