Christmas around the world

a Vancouver Christmas

Our first few years of marriage, I would make a huge meal for our family’s Christmas Eve dinner. Hours – no, days spent in the kitchen. By the time the evening arrived, I was completely exhausted. 

Then one year, as we watched a Christmas Story for the one-billionth time, we decided to change things up. For those of you who know the movie well, you know the family ends up eating Chinese food for their Christmas dinner.

What a great idea! And so it began: Christmas Eve dinner for our family was Chinese takeout. A new tradition.

Our first year celebrating Christmas outside of the United States, we found ourselves living in a suburb of Vancouver, BC (Canada). And we found ourselves in need once again for new traditions.

It would be our only holiday season in this city before moving on to Norway, so we decided we should keep things simple. But we also wanted to make sure it was a Christmas full of good memories for our family.

We went out and bought a tiny silver tree and a few decorations. We made Christmas cookies. LOTS of Christmas cookies, all month long. The boys made coffee filter snowflakes and paper chain decorations, and we fashioned a nativity out of a shoebox and empty spice bottles.

Christmas Eve arrived, and we Skyped with family back home. It was good to see them, although a bit emotional to not be with them.

We couldn’t find a Chinese restaurant open in our area, so we ended up at the Indian restaurant across the street.

Christmas morning came, and we followed our traditions as we always do: opening gifts, reading the Christmas story from the Bible, and then a big breakfast.

It was a nice morning. But sometimes I think Christmas Day can seem like a really long day. And that day probably would have felt like an eternity, had it not been for the fact that we had friends living nearby who were also experiencing their first Christmas away from “home”. They all came over, we cooked a meal together, and we sat around, sharing gifts and stories and old memories. And making new ones.

Christmas 2012 was different. Different than any other before. But it was also good. It’s the Christmas we learned that simple can be beautiful. We became even more thankful for technology to keep us connected. We were reminded that you can have as much fun as you choose to have. And we learned that when you live away from family, you find family in those around you.

Christmas looked a little different. But it was special all the same.


Last December, we shared a daily Christmas calendar to lead up to Christmas. This year, we’re bringing you a series called Christmas Around the World.

Folks who have lived in other countries, people who are married to or in a relationship with someone from another country and celebrate with a blend of traditions – this year, they’ll be sharing their stories here.

Check back throughout December to hear about how people celebrate, what they remember, what they miss, and how they have found ways to create new memories each and every year.

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