Missing: friends, family and Christmas spirit

Once upon a time, in years gone by, this evening would be one of excitement and anticipation.

Since I could remember, November 30th was decoration day. My mum would haul out her decorations and after much work, pinned fingers and a fair amount of swearing, the house would be magically (having instantly forgotten all the stress of doing so) transformed into a grotto.

I always thought I'd carry on that tradition. Now, at 31, I guess it's not going to happen. Firstly it's my oldest's birthday so it just doesn't feel right to be putting up Christmas decorations on his birthday. Secondly, it was always done in time for advent, so everybody could have their first door on their chocolate advent calendar. Advent calendars aren't really a thing here. Hard to find; definitely. Plus, Mini Man doesn't have the understandng of what they are about, and I don't have the willpower to fight him on it.

Another thing I don't have? Christmas spirit. The arrival of what little advertising I do see with mostly thanks to YouTube, is marred by how different it is here. I miss home most right now, because, Christmas is Christmas. They don't like mentioning it much here. The schools don't let the kids colour in Santa, because they are Jewish. They don't say that, of course. They say: "We don't recognise religions in school" Nope, just close for every Jewish thing going. Oh, but they ARE closed for Christmas. But it's a winter holiday.

I miss friends, too. The run up to Christmas was always a fun time. Going out. Singing on karaoke, at the reliable faithful pub that we always went to, with the same old dependable Christmas decorations, and staff who know your name, and can pour you a drink the way you like it - like drinkable. I like more mixer than alcohol. Sue me! A pub where there is barely standing room because it is super busy, not because it is the width of a staircase. Not that I'd know. It's almost a year since I want to any place that even remotely resembles any kind of bar.

A year since I asked a mum friend if she wanted to go out for a drink. I don't bother asking anymore. Schedules don't fit. Personalities don't fit. Whatever. I'm actually over trying to make friends here now. Everybody is busy. With work. Family. Friendships that they long established years before I even got here. I am grateful for the one family we have made friends with who make plans with out saying the words "let's do this, that, or the other sometime". Yeah. Sometime. Like the 32nd of whenever. That family are great. I just wish they didn't live an hour away.

I need something more than the occasional neighbour interaction I get when I step out the door. Especially when their only comments seem to be moaning about our grass length, how many leaves we haven't raked or some other judgy nonsense. The snow is on the way. That'll be a field day. Listen people. You're retired. Congratulations that you can have a perfect garden, tidy house, and have visitors over whenever you want. I'm having enough trouble dealing with the Groundhog Day that is cleaning the damn kitchen, doing laundry or other housewife bullshit that always seems to need doing. The fucking garden can wait.

In three weeks we fly home for Christmas. While I'm excited about it, it's also pissing me off that it has become such a expensive time of year. Husband's benefits conveniently changed, taking away his two free flights, so here we are, stuck with the expense of an inflated Christmas flight, as well as gifts. The good part is, at least the people we are making the effort to go and see, will actually appreciate it, unlike many of the people here.

At least we have a tree this year. I'll decorate when I'm not scrubbing a toilet.

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