Holidays in Anguilla

Anguilla: Holidays as an expat

The sun is shining, the sky is blue and I still need to turn my air conditioning on if I don’t want to sweat on the way to work. Sounds like November, right? Yeah, it doesn’t feel like November, either. I’ve celebrated the holidays outside of my Northern California hometown before (I spent a Friendsgiving cooking up a turbaducken in London and a Christmas there that same year), but I’ve never celebrated the holidays in a warm-weather location. The sunshine is what really throws me off.

For me — and I’m sure others can relate — crisp weather, scarves and coats signify the beginning of the holiday season. Somehow the sub-50 temps combined with a glowing fireplace and hot chocolate alert us that the holiday season is upon us. And what happens when those cues no longer exist in your environment? It’s a weird reality. Fortunately for us, Scott’s family will be joining us to celebrate Christmas which will help us get in the Christmas spirit a bit. Thanksgiving, however, has taken a major backseat. It’s just the two of us here and it feels like mid-June. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner for two seems like overkill, especially when only one of us actually eats meat. We had talked about a hosting a Friendsgiving with fellow expats but the days just snuck by us entirely too quickly. I’ve resorted to whipping up homemade pumpkin spice lattes to help us remember that its pumpkin season. Gingerbread is on the horizon.

In lieu of staying home, we’ll be going out to dinner (in shorts, no doubt) to toast to a year of things to be thankful for: newlywed life, a new home, a new lifestyle and new careers. Quite honestly, I’m okay with Thanksgiving sneaking by me. I’ve never been the biggest Thanksgiving lover except for the mounds of sweet potatoes and the fact that it cues Black Friday sales. When you’re not spending time with family on Thanksgiving it sort of nullifies the reason for the holiday. Christmas, however? I’m not letting my favorite holiday get past me. Even in 80 degree weather, we’re hanging lights outside, we’re getting a Christmas tree — even if it takes the form of a palm versus a fir — and we’re listening to Christmas tunes.

To others celebrating the holidays as an expat without family in new environments: how do you keep the holiday spirit alive in your new home? Any new traditions to help you celebrate?

Shannon Kircher, The Wanderlust Effect

More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect, formerly The Traveling Scholar. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. She is a former resident of London and San Francisco and now calls the island of Anguilla home. In addition to The Wanderlust Effect, Shannon is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort and is on the Board of Directors of the Omololu International School in Anguilla.