Chile Group Post: Holidays and mistletoe

First Christmas in Chile, originally uploaded by coming2cambodia.

I have hijacked the Chilean Group Blog Post and inserted my own topic of “Holidays while abroad: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the different”. I know that Kyle usally does this, but she is traveling. I asked for her blessing, but she never got back to me. Oh well. I am hijacking it anyway. Please leave a comment and I will keep a running tally of other blogs… also, if you want to join in, please do. (You don’t actually have to be a Chilean blogger; other expats have joined in as well)

The above photo is from my very first Christmas in Chile; it was different to say the least. For me, growing up in Wisconsin – also thought of as the snow tundra – the hardest thing to adjust to with holidays is that they are in the wrong season. It is hard to feel Christmas-y when it is over 100 degrees outside. Also, the displays in the mall with snowmen and fake snow absolutely crack me up. Perhaps they are funny in FL and HI as well?

The other thing that is hard about the holidays is how the food is different. I am used to my mother’s Indian rice and small, cream onions. I like the large spread that our friends Dan and Helen always put out. Everything is always just a little different when you are away. In some ways, thanksgiving is the hardest, because it doesn’t exist elsewhere in the world. In high school, I think that thanksgiving just went on noticed. In college, my friend and I tried to make a turkey. It was our first attempt! We had my roommates and some other friends over. In the end, very typical of Turkey Day, dinner was hours late. We had to confiscate car keys, wallets, cell phones, and the cords of the house phone to keep people from leaving. We had been drinking white wine with strawberries through the cooking experience, so we cared less. In Moldova, as mentioned earlier, I cooked 12 turkeys and a meal for 250 people (with help).

The thing that I do love about holidays in Chile is that they revolve around the extended family– in WI they do too, I always celebrate with my family and my parents best friends, Dan and Helen’s, family.  My family in Chile usually ends up at Grandma’s house in Estacion Central.  Usually, we have at least 20 people and food for 40.  It is an all day affair.  Really, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  If only I could go from these tables, back to my WI table and be with everyone!

My favorite, however, celebration in Chile was my 20th birthday. Yes, I know it is not technically a holiday—but it was a celebration. I was living with 3 Chilean friends in an apartment in Santiago with almost no furniture. Two of these friends had been classmates in high school. We decided that we would throw a party at the house. I invited other exchange students and friends in Santiago, including S. They, without telling me, invited other friends from high school who were now scattered around the country. We ended up have a HUGE party—over 14 people slept no the floor and in assorted beds throughout the 3 bedroom apartment.

My roommates got me a cake and decorated the house with blown up “balloons” (Classy, I know!). The Chileans tried to teach the Americans to salsa. The Americans tried to teach the Chileans to rap. We never left the house and we never really needed to. During the course of the night, which went deep into the morning, I was really happy and telling people how much I loved them and what great friends they were to have traveled to see me. I kissed S, my now-fiancée, my then-best-friend. Technically, that was our first kiss. Sadly, he doesn’t remember.

Update after commenting on Leigh’s blog. Here are the holidays I have been an expat for:

1996 – Chile
2002 – Moldova
2003 – Moldova
2007 – Chile

New Years:
1997 – Chile
2000 – Chile
2003 – Hungry
2004 – Turkey
2008 – Chile

1996 – Chile
2000 – Chile
2002 – Moldova
2003 – Moldova
2007 – Chile

17 yrs old – Chile
20 yrs old – Chile
22 yrs old – Moldova
23 yrs old – Moldova
27 yrs old – Cambodia
28 yrs old – Argentina

Check out the other participants:
Lydia – 4 Christmases in a row in South America

Abby – A dry 21

Leigh – Smells of the holidays

Lauren – Loving Christmas in Chile

Emily – Expat Thanksgiving (yea, so she decided not to participate because she had already written on the topic. Ha! says I.  I will add you anyway.)

Sara – Kudos for choosing to be abroad & not take mom up on the offer of a plane ticket “home”

Fned – Is home where the heart is?

Resident Expat – Christmas is where the children are.  Also, welcome a newbie to the group!

Tyffanie – 2nd time around

Renee – Grinch at the beach

Andre – (Non) Christmas Away



  1. Haha, I just noticed that you’d linked to me. I didn’t go too into the general “holidays away from home” theme, but that last paragraph pretty much sums up my thoughts on the subject. And damn, you have been away for lots of holidays!

  2. My Best (and first real) thanksgiving has been about 5 years ago with a colleague of hubby’s (American) with the real American food. That was nice.
    All the other stuff in holidays, not much of a holiday fan here.
    Salsa and Rap course sounds good & fun 😀

    Let me think about the Expat holidays I had tomorrow.
    I was hard pressed to remember where I spent my last birthdays 😉

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