Just after the summer, when everybody is getting back to work and the routine of daily life, the first phone call comes in. “Hi Anto, what are you doing for Christmas this year?” Jeez folks, I have no idea. It’s not something I want to think about when it’s September and when the biggest mess of the year is still more than 3 months away… so in order to avoid that conversation, we try to escape and travel for Christmas every other year or so…
First and most important reason is that it’s my birthday on Christmas. Yes people, I’m not kidding, out of the 365 days a year has, my mother decided she wanted me out on Christmas. So there I was, 6 weeks premature, born a Christmas child. I can already hear you think “what is it like to have a birthday on Christmas?” but really, I have no idea, because I can’t compare to having a “normal” birthday. Sure, the advantage is that I never have to work but as a kid, I hated it that none of my friends came to see me on my birthday because they were spending time with their families. “And do you get twice as many presents?” is generally the next question. No I don’t, because in The Netherlands, we don’t do presents for Christmas. Or at least, not as far as I’m concerned (and with me at least 50% of the Dutch population). We have another holiday early in December called Sinterklaas and that will for me always be the time to give presents as that’s what I’ve been doing since I was young. So no double presents for me. But then again, who cares about presents anyway? I sure don’t, if I really want something, I’ll buy it myself…
So, having my birthday on Christmas usually means everyone is coming to our place. Half of everyone that is, because basically the two sides of my family don’t talk to each other anymore after my parent’s divorce. As everyone with divorced parents will understand, Christmas is always a mess. You can never satisfy everyone at the same time so instead of having a peaceful Christmas, we are usually hosting people for two days in a row OR driving from one part of the country to the other, in order to please everyone and come and say hello for the holidays.
A couple of years ago we decided it was enough. We are celebrating Christmas the way we want and not to please other people. So what else is better than to travel? Yes, it’s an escape from it all, I’ll admit, but it’s the best escape you can wish for. Over the past years we’ve spent Christmas in Australia, Bangkok, Argentina and New Zealand. This year (by the time you are reading this) we will be in Austria. Not as exotic as the previous journeys we made but this time our finances didn’t allow a bigger trip. Yes, we have to watch what we spend, too, even though it may not always seem like that. And besides, I just refuse to spend € 1.500 on staying at a beach resort somewhere in Mexico.
When you travel for Christmas, you can basically just forget about it because you are not the only one trying to escape from it. You can pretend, along with all the other tourists, that it’s not there and just forget about the rest of the world. The only thing constantly reminding me of it, is my family calling from home congratulating me with my birthday (and then saying “oh and btw, Merry Christmas”).
It’s so much more relaxing not spending Christmas at home. No worries about cleaning the house, cooking for a lot of people, making sure everyone is having a good time and that sort of stuff. In addition, I think that the whole idea behind Christmas is just stupid. Being kind and friendly to the people around you… Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we were all kind and friendly to each other the other 364 days of the year, too?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind Christmas. I enjoy singing along with silly songs such as All I Want for Christmas is You and once we decide to stay home (which is pretty much every other year) I like to decorate the house in Christmas atmosphere. I even like buying a tree and putting it up. Just not this year. This year we’ll be gone. If the weather is good, we’ll be skiing at Kitzsteinhorn Glacier and if the weather sucks, we’ll probably stay around the apartment, read a book, watch tv and eat Apfelstrudel for my birthday.
So … if you have read this and are actually remembering my birthday on Christmas, feel free to say happy birthday. I won’t kill you, I promise! Actually, one of my favorite moments of Xmas morning is waking up and seeing so many birthday wishes on my phone and on Facebook. I am not the cold hearted person you may think I am because basically, just the tiny little fact that all those people even bother to send me a message for my birthday, on one of the most hectic days a year, totally makes my day, no matter where in the world I am …
Merry Christmas everyone, wherever you are!
(last year’s Christmas blog was about where we spent our Christmases, click here to read it)