Photo via Jack Fussell on Flickr

I can’t explain it.

Orchard Rd. is covered in the most obnoxious Christmas lights you can imagine. Glorious but obnoxious.

Every mall in the area has their decorations and trees up, and every block is a different holiday color scheme.

Tanglin Mall shoots fake snow into the air every night at 7:30-ish for the kids to play in.

Every building and store I walk into has Christmas music playing.

But I’m not feeling very Christmasy.

My sister is convinced it’s because I fell asleep during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and didn’t see Santa close out the show. It’s an interesting theory that may, in fact, have merit. This was the first year that I missed the majority of the parade. I was watching it live via a Skype call and could not keep my eyes open after the first few floats. Never having been a night owl, the 14 hour time difference killed me this year.

Many expats find that Singapore’s tropical weather puts a damper on their holiday spirit. Others find that either not going home for the vacation, or not having guests visit instead, is the culprit.

For me, I’m thinking it’s a combination of things.

For sure, the weather plays into the mood – not much, but a little. The heat doesn’t bother me that much and, thanks to it being the rainy season, we are inconvenienced by massive thunder storms more often than we would be digging out from snow if we were back home. So, that’s nearly the same…only less strenuous (shoveling) and not freezing.

OK, so it’s not the same, but you know what I mean.

This year, nobody from my side of the family is coming to visit us, but we will be having a guest for a week. Neil’s mom is coming in, and all of us are thrilled to get to spend time with her. It really wouldn’t be Christmas at all if Grandma Louise didn’t bring the enormous stockings she makes up for the boys every year.

I haven’t done any baking yet, and that is contributing to my lackluster feeling. However, it seems silly to bake dozens and dozens of cookies and brownies, etc, like I used to, when we’re the only ones to eat them. Lord knows, the last thing my ass needs right now is a couple dozen cookies. I used to give trays of goodies to the teacher’s lounges at the school and to special teachers but now that the boys are in middle and high school, we don’t really do teacher gifts anymore. With so many people leaving for the holidays, delivering baskets to friends is really not an option either.

I think the hardest thing for me to adjust to, actually, has absolutely nothing to do with being an expat or away from home over the holidays. It has everything to do with my kids. They are growing up and, since the boys are older now, the secret planning and shopping days are over. We stopped doing the ridiculous pile of presents under the tree years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I like that we’re not so focused on the gifts anymore, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss seeing the boys’ eager faces Christmas morning and their excitement while opening stockings and presents.

The anticipation is gone.

Also, I’m a huge fan of traditions and I’m having a hard time finding new ones that work for us me. We don’t make reindeer food, or cookies for Christmas Eve anymore. The boys don’t care where Santa is on NORAD’s tracking system and we’re not sneaking the gifts under the tree late at night anymore. I can’t even remember the last time we watched a Rudolph or Frosty movie. And, teenagers are happy to sleep in Christmas morning and aren’t knocking at the bedroom door at some ungodly hour in the morning.

I miss these things. Yes, even the early wake up call.

I know, in time, we’ll find new routines and traditions but I feel like I’m in limbo right now, and I have to tell you, I don’t like it so much.

Nope. Not one little bit.

So, in an attempt to get my holiday mojo back, after dinner tonight, I’m starting the baking. Neil stocked my cupboards with all the necessary ingredients for our usual family favorites of cream cheese brownies, chocolate crinkle cookies and secret snaps, so I’m good to go. I’m not sure what we’ll do with it all when I’m done but we’ll cross that bridge later. Perhaps with a little Christmas music in the background and the smell of chocolate drifting through the house, I’ll start getting into the spirit of things.

Much to Zach’s chagrin, we will not be listening to Bob River’s Christmas album. I don’t think I can take “Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire” right now, which is his current Christmas fav.

Tell me, what are the traditions that mean the most to you? Is it the family exchanging gifts, or that one special dish that your mom makes? What gets you into the holiday mood? Or if your kids have grown, how did you adjust to the change in your traditions?

Needing some inspiration,



I just wanted to take a moment to thank those of you who voted for my blog over at Expatsblog. I truly appreciate all of your support. The winners of the competition will be announced on December 6th so there are still a few days left to vote. If you’ve enjoyed this post and haven’t yet left a comment, please consider heading over and leaving some love for Brave or Just Crazy.


Thanks so much!

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26 Responses to “Christmas is coming…but I’m not feelin’ it.” Subscribe

  1. Diana December 3, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    I can only imagine how lackluster Christmas is now that your boys are older. But in years to come, the holiday will take on new meaning for your family. Your boys will be coming home to spend Christmas with you, maybe with wives and grandchildren too. You’ll get to relive the fun times all over again. :-)

    Because we don’t have kids and always travel at this time, my husband and I have never decorated our home together. We don’t even own a single ornament! We sort of look at how stressed everyone else is and breathe a huge sigh of relief. It’s an easy peasy, stress free time of the year for us and we love it that way. Bah humbug. 😉

    • NikiC December 3, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

      Hi Diana!
      I thought about the whole grandchildren idea earlier and wasn’t sure if that made me feel worse or better. LOL!
      My husband has always wanted to travel for the holidays but I’ve never been comfortable being away over Christmas day. Not sure what my hang up is. We did go away for New Years last year and had a wonderful time.

  2. Mike Tarango December 3, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    Try volunteering at a shelter. Get the whole Family involved and start a new tradition. Hopfully it will put y’all in the CHRISTmas spirit!

  3. Toni December 4, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    Niki, I know exactly how you feel. I really miss those wonderful moments when the boys believed in the magic of Christmas: Christmas fairies putting up the tree and decorating when they were asleep, tracking Santa on the internet and who could forget “the Santa monitor”. Now that they are teenagers, the excitement and anticipation are gone and the holiday is simply hectic and commercial. Thankfully, I have my kindergarten students to restore the “magic” for me until the next generation of Boileau’s comes along … BTW, I remember how delicious your Christmas cookies are :)

    • NikiC December 4, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

      Toni! I completely forgot about the Santa Monitor! LOL! Ah…that was brilliant wasn’t it! 😀
      Those were the days when things were so much simpler.

  4. Michele @ Malaysian Meanders December 5, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    I still have a couple Santa believers in the house, so that magic is still there. But I do think that the heat, lack of guests and not going home is dampening my mood. It will be my first time in my entire life that I haven’t spent Christmas with my parents. We’ve only missed it with my in-laws once. I wanted to bake yesterday but had a hard time finding all-purpose flour — yes, FLOUR — at Cold Storage. I bought something, but the label is all in Malay, so it might be the wrong stuff. We shall see how the cookies turn out. Merry Christmas!

    • NikiC December 5, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

      You can’t find all-purpose flour?? That would drive me crazy! Hopefully your cookies come out right.

      I’ve spent a few Christmases without my family. I don’t love doing it but it’s not as bad as it was when we first got married. I was so homesick that year, our first Christmas in Montreal was awful.

  5. Michelle December 5, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    Cookies at 6 Jalan Ampang are always welcome! 😉

    • NikiC December 5, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

      Thanks! I’ll keep that in mind when my kitchen is over run with sweets. Won’t be long now. 😀

  6. Naomi December 19, 2012 at 1:47 am #

    Oh boy. I had a LONG LONG comment typed out and then I hit the wrong button when trying to submit.

    Synopsis :

    I have three kids (one graduating this year & two littes). As a fellow expat, I think some of my bah humbug DOES have to do with the tropical weather, but a lot has to do with the anticipation dwindling, like you said, as the kids get older.

    I’m going to push our way through the rolling of the eyes this Christmas, because I think tradition needs to be carried on (whether old traditions from your own childhood or new ones that you have implemented since you’ve been abroad) for the sake of future generations!! Sappy and corny, but it’s what is going to give me the Christmas spirit this year!

    • NikiC December 22, 2012 at 9:16 am #

      Hi Naomi!

      I’ve noticed that as we get closer to the holiday that the excitement is starting to build. There are a few presents under the tree and my mother-in-law is due to arrive tomorrow. I’m feeling less bah humbug than I did earlier this month for sure. I’m such a creature of habit and finding the adaptations to our traditions, or just outright new ones, is really the hardest part for me. I’m starting to see ways that I can get my Christmas spirit on without having to rely on things we did when the kids were younger.

      I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

  7. Sheila July 26, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    Thank you so much for your wonderful blog full of advice. We are moving shortly and really appreciate all that you have put up here.

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