Every year I say, this was the best Christmas ever. It is hard not to get caught up in your kids’ joy and the spirit of the holidays. So I have to say, I was a little worried about this year.
Before we even left home, we knew that Christmas half-way around the world might be the point where homesickness really kicked in for us. We had also not had the benefit of the lead up celebration countdown of Halloween and Thanksgiving to give us some sort of holiday barometer. They really don’t celebrate Halloween in New Zealand and Thanksgiving, although we were together, was spent bouncing on a bus through coastal Australia.
So when we stepped out into the airport into Sydney on our way to Bali and met Santa handing out presents we all said out loud how amazed we were that it was almost Christmas.
Silently, I had been preparing. I found a Target in Cairns and bought Christmas pillow cases for the gifts to be placed in. I purchased a few little toys and gifts that the kids asked for that they could travel with. New clothes for Laney and small lego toys and books for Lee. Everything was small so it could still fit in our bags. I got some tinsel to decorate a tree if we found one and some Christmas cookie toppers to make cookies.
I worried it wouldn’t be enough. We always overdid Christmas. I always wrapped everything. We always had a huge tree. We always made cookies and cakes. We always went to Church on Christmas Eve. We always had a traditional homemade dinner, breakfast, lunch and another dinner. We always had lots of family around. This year would be different. Would it still be Christmas?
It only took a few minutes for Bali to work it’s magic. Lee quickly declared Bali to be one of his favorite places. You can not help but get caught up in her smells and mystique. It is a magical place. My parents arrived the day after we did and we were so thrilled to have family with us. We’ve told stories and laughed. That in itself makes for a perfect Christmas.
The kids decorated a Bird of Paradise plant with tinsel and stars and we placed Christmas poppers that we bought in Australia under it. They didn’t have a cookie mix or cookie ingredients at a local market so we bought cookies and made icing and decorated them with the decorations. Santa still loved them just like our homemade ones.
The pillow case sacks were filled with the little toys and the kids didn’t even care that they weren’t individually wrapped. We had less garbage and it was so much easier. Our balinese dinners were served in the villa on Christmas Eve and we went into town for a special Christmas buffet complete with turkey the next day. Everyone was happy and all in all we had a fabulous time. In this Hindu country we didn’t attend a Christmas eve service but evidence of prayer and spirituality is everywhere and there was something so generous in the many kind Christmas wishes of the Hindu people.
Most importantly, we learned that Christmas is Christmas even if it is different.
We were in a tropical environment on an Island, surrounded by Hindu temples. We didn’t have a proper Christmas tree. We had limited family around. We didn’t cook a traditional turkey or ham. We didn’t even have stockings to hang. However, we read “Twas the Night Before Christmas as we always do. Somehow, it was all perfect and Christmas had arrived.
Lee even declared it the best Christmas ever.