It really isn't easy to get into the Christmas spirit out here... I struggle a lot with missing the snowy, chilly Scandinavian Christmases and cherishing lovely memories of my childhood Christmases, which of course in my mind - all were perfect!
I miss the lights, the cold, the goodies and that Christmas feeling you have all of December back home. It's a difficult time of year to be an expat and be away from family.
At the same time, it's important to remember that this is what my kids knows as Christmas. To them, it's normal to have no sign of Christmas anywhere else than in other expat's houses, and to celebrate Christmas with friends rather than family. It's normal that it's the same hot, sticky temperature at Christmas as on any other day of the year and it's normal to have a plastic tree and fake snow on the windows...
It saddens me that my children wont have the same experiences or feelings about Christmas as I do (especially since I'm such a Christmas geek myself). They will never walk in a Lucia procession, or sing Christmas carols ('Jingle Bells' doesn't count!) at school. There is no Santa's Grotto around here to visit, nor do they play Christmas music in the shops. There is no snow to build snowmen and snowball lanterns out of and we can't make Christmas goodies or leave the gingerbread house out, because the ants will attack it straight away.
But as I said, I also do try and make every Christmas, wherever we are, the best Christmas for the kids - cause these are their Christmases. Even though it's hard, I can only try my best.
I play Christmas music at home and in the car, we watch Christmas movies and old 'Julkalendrar' on DVD, I light candles every afternoon when it starts to go dark and we enjoy eating the gingerbread snaps I've brought home from IKEA!
And I'm pretty sure that Santa will somehow find us this year again!