It is the day after Christmas – what we in Oz call Boxing Day. Notwithstanding that the company is American (and Americans do not have Boxing Day) most staff have been granted a quasi-holiday – that is, they are still required to attend work but afforded a little sleep-in so that the working day really amounts to a half day.
This has been the second Christmas outside Oz and without my family. My first Christmas away was ten years ago, where I went to the US on uni break to work the ski season. It was also conveniently the time that the husband and I met. Being away the first time was tough in the weeks leading up to Christmas – due to the time of year obviously but also due to being the first time I had travelled overseas solo. That time, the ski resort was open on Christmas Day so we were all still required to attend work, unlike this year, when I found myself faced with a potential lone-woman Christmas (at least for a couple of hours during the day while the husband was at work).
In my view the effect of Christmas away from family or away from home, only carries as much significance as the person away allows it. The experience of those left at home of course is different, and is not an experience upon which I can comment. Here, being confined to the island and more specifically, confined to the compound (the company does not allow staff to drive outside the compound on Christmas Day due to the celebrations which occur in town and the subsequent lack of drink-driving regulation), it is easy to pretend that Christmas isn’t happening or that it is just another day. It is that technique which I have found most effective in rolling through the “festive season” – it can still be a fun day so long as one doesn’t lament one’s geographical position or get bogged down contemplating all the the things one would have been doing had one been at home enjoying Christmas in the usual way. This is not to say that you don’t miss your family and wish you could be where they are – it is more that you don’t allow yourself to consider it too much. It can, and should, still be a party!
Yesterday I was content to have breakfast with the husband following the much anticipated Christmas Eve party, skype the family members (for whom Christmas had already almost been and gone) watch crap movies on cable and make my way to the gym for some token exercise. All of which did in fact occur except (brace yourselves) thy gym trip. For the manager of the plant where the husband works kindly invited me to join them for the department’s lunch, without any such suggestion from the husband, as he must have realised that I, being the stay at home “spouse,” may not have had any plans for Christmas lunch, and therefore was likely to be spending a decent part of the day alone, eating a ham and salad wrap and trying not to eat all the Milka chocolate.
So this was how I found myself having Christmas lunch at the gas plant with the husband and his work buddies. And, despite minor apprehension on my part, no one seemed to mind that I was the only spouse gatecrashing the event.
Later that afternoon, Christmas dinner was held at the Clubhouse from 5.00pm and was attended by a variety of people from all over the compound. While it was not strictly “Christmas” the food was good – comprised of every kind of meat you could ever imagine, plus various cakes and a number of cheeses (of which I of course sampled every one….) I was even fortunate to try homemade eggnog made by one of the ladies I had met recently, and who, knowing I had never had proper eggnog before, brought me down my own personal sample cup before dinner was served.
The wine definitely flowed (particularly the red variety) and armed with 5 further bottles between 6 of us, after dinner, we made our way back to the communal bench, where I attempted to learn to dance a two-step and tried my first pinch of chewing tobacco. Not a particularly ladylike pastime I have to say, and not something I will be rushing to try again given the distinct lack of effect (other than a nasty taste in the mouth!).
Next week New Year’s Eve awaits, and I am hoping it will be possible to take a “party break” before then. Can’t say I’m particularly confident! Once again, feliz navidad a toda mi familia y amigos!