The strange melancholy of elsewhere
or Christmas where it’s cold.
Living the USA has been wonderful, but it also shows to me what I love and what I miss about my home country.
A few months ago, heck a few weeks ago I was excited about our first truly cold Christmas. A Christmas with the promise of snow, a Christmas where Christmas food is entirely sensible and does not accompany sunburn and going to the beach afterwards.
Now that Christmas is getting close, exacerbated by another new festival day Thanksgiving, I find myself missing Christmas in summer. Of course part of what I miss has nothing to do with the weather. I miss the comfort of sharing the festive season with friends I’ve known for half my life, there is a wonderful comfort and certainty when sharing special times with people you know so well and are always rediscovering. We are making wonderful friends in Portland and around the US, but we are, on the whole, still making them. We don’t have the resilience and comfort of having known each other for years and years.
On the whole I don’t miss my Australian people that much, they are there on facebook or twitter or livejournal, I do feel like I carry them with me and they make me braver. It is interesting, I generally miss my deceased mother when wonderful things happen and I wish I could share them with her. It is the opposite when simply far away, when they are happy I am happy knowing they are out there enjoying life. When my friends back home are going through rough times I feel such a pang that I cannot be there for them. I am here. That was the pattern, it looks like I miss them as the festive season commences too.
Some of the things I’ll miss:
Shopping for food for Christmas, having shops and stores that are or stores. I miss the Deli at the Belconnen Markets, prosciutto hanging from strings, so many varieties of cheese, imported chocolates, more varieties of panetone every year and perpetually being tempted by the marzipan pigs. Deli’s always speak of Christmas to me and it was our deli. I miss knowing where all the things are, that sense of ownership of a city, where to get what.
I miss that after shopping you could sit in the sunshine and drink coffee on a perfect summer day.
So much of Christmas, Boxing Day, New Years and all the festivities around are tied into the sense of an endless summer, of taking the time to be with people. That sense of having known people forever, hanging out on the back porch, wandering down to the shops in bare feet.
I know I’m going to enjoy these new experiences. But it is a different energy an entirely different ecosystem. It makes me uncertain, nervous and like I can’t see properly. It feels so strange to be in a country where so many Christmas movies come from, I half expect Christmas to be like that and of course it won’t be.
But Christmas will be interesting and so will Thanksgiving, I’m looking forward to spending some more time with nice people. We’ll have to make new rituals and ways of being. I can see why ritual times can be harder for those far far away from home. We will have a good time and discover new things.
Merry festive season.
5 thoughts on “The strange melancholy of elsewhere”
Your summer Christmas sounds so odd and so glorious to me. Especially the bit about front porches because, in a weird way, I always associate this time of year with back porches. Particularly, that bizarre, in-betweeny feeling you get when you leave the warm, constantly moving party and stand out underneath the black sky (and the stars look so sharp when it gets cold) and your cheeks are still flushed but your breath makes clouds in the air. Oh, all the ways there are to love a thing.
I hope you can develop some new rituals this year and feel settled next year at holiday time.
That sounds wonderful. I shall look up at the stars and think of you and all my Clarion buddies (if the cloud cover leaves). I do miss the stars of home, the Southern Cross and how bright they were. I just haven’t seen that many stars since coming here.
All the ways to love a thing indeed :)
I hope that you have a happy Thanksgiving in your new home, Liz. I, too, am physically distant from family during Thanksgiving and Easter. I know that among the things I am most thankful for this year are my new friends from Clarion, and this experience we shared, that seems to keep on deepening, and bearing new fruit. (I can mix metaphors with the best of ’em.) Although we are scattered across all of North America (and Ireland), I feel connected with and grateful for you all.
Shauna, you’re so right, I should develop some rituals. Mike is not a festive season kind of guy, so it shall take some figuring out. I wish I could have you guys round for Christmas, that would be perfect.
I am thankful for the wonderful and diverse people in my life. It’s kind of baffling that I have such wonderful people around, on multiple continents. I am thankful that we have this opportunity, to be here. I am thankful for a wonderful sweetheart who supports me in so many ways. I am thankful for a roof over our heads and enough to eat and be frivolous. And I am thankful of other things too, but I should get back to work :)