With Thanksgiving in just a few days, and no plans to celebrate, I realized that I have spent more Thanksgiving holidays away from the U.S. than actually being there engorge in delicious Thanksgiving meal and then past out in front of TV watching marathons of the latest popular series (I don’t care for football – the American kind).
I think I am actually reaching the point where I am not too affected by missing holidays. I think this is the way it needs to be as someone who move all over the world.
There are two options in dealing with holidays of multiple cultures. One, the way my family and American governments all over the world – you celebrate your home holidays and also the holidays of the local culture. In the case of my family, we celebrate all Chinese and American holidays, leaving us with a reason to have a big meal and hangout at least once a month. In the case of American governments, I have personally experienced the Embassy in London and now the Peace Corps/US Embassy in Cameroon – they have days off on both American public holidays and official UK/Cameroon holidays. Leaving them barely at work. Now you see why people are rushing to join the Foreign Service.
The other option, which is the only I have to adopt here in Cameroon – forget your home holidays even exist. Completely melt into your local culture. In Chinese, we call this 入境隨俗, which literally means: once you cross the border, you follow the local customs. (See? I do love the terse nature of the Chinese language. 4 characters said so much.)
There have been so many occasions over this past year when I simply had forgotten American holidays; ironically, I celebrate more Chinese holidays here because my “adopted Chinese family” always call me up to go have a meal for whatever occasion it may be.
So, my fellow globetrotters, how do you incorporate the holidays of your heritage and the holidays of your local place of residence?