Christmas TCK Style!

Category: Third Culture Kids

My blog entry today is a bit different. No transition issues…no pontificating about the Third Culture Kid experience. This blog is strictly for your enjoyment. I have asked some of my TCK friends to do some “thinking back” to Christmases of their growing up years and to give me some quick thoughts that come to their mind.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

If you are a TCK or any kind of highly mobile person, I’d love to hear your thoughts and memories too.

Merry Christmas.



(lived in Germany, now lives in the USA)

  • Snowweihnachtsmarkt
  • White lights
  • Shoes in shop windows
  • Calendars with chocolates hiding behind the days of the month
  • Candles on trees and wreaths
  • Lebkuchen
  • St Nikolaus parading through the town
  • Numbers written over front door frames
  • Käsekuchen
  • Glühwein
  • Weinachtsmarkt
  • Stollen!
  • Garlands made with real pine branches
  • Street venders selling hot chestnuts (Heisse Maroni)
  • Zimt Sternen (cinnamon stars)
  • Christmas trees at every village square with white lights that don’t quite cover the tree. Smile
  • Oh how I miss my German Christmas!

Eric Lawrence
(born and raised in Papua New Guinea…Canadian citizen)

  • pngThe smell of rain in the morning
  • The drip of the last remaining drops from the tin roof
  • The beautiful bird songs
  • The clanging of the wood stove
  • Our own personal sock for a stocking
  • Phantom comics
  • The smells of chicken/ham and potatoes/sweet potatoes roasting in the woodstove
  • The reading of the Christmas story
  • A Christmas service at the church, seated on the bark floor, led in a language I don't understand
  • Getting stuck in the mud
  • The 5-foot fake Christmas tree
  • Mom's homemade chocolates
  • The lush, green, rain forest
  • The incredible display of flowers strewn about
  • “Family” for dinner, be they Aussie, Scot, Kiwi, or Canuk; old or young
  • The heavy afternoon rain followed by the gentle warming of the sun
  • Games and conversation
  • A quiet thought for the brother(s) who are no longer with us
  • A story or two of christmases past and a compare and contrast to the one at hand
  • Thankfulness for the “family” who are there to share, even though this may be the only one we do
  • A hope for the day when we will all be together celebrating the one born as a human but forever God
  • This one will be no different. It will be nothing like any before and we will remember them all with fondness and joy, thankful for each and every one of them.

Esther Brumme
(born in Switzerland, raised in France..UK/American citizen)

  • OperaParisFeeding the homeless on Christmas day before opening gifts in Los Angeles (Egg Mc Muffins, poor homeless people) followed by feeding the homeless on Christmas day in Paris  (roasted chicken on fresh baguette, a much tastier option!)
  • A tradition of switching up traditions!
  • The French cult of food and the pressure of rivaling Christmas menus
  • Mum keeping up by preparing a new Christmas dish each year: ostrich, wild boar, capon, exotic crayfish, Danish Risalamande - paired with special wine saved for the day
  • Dad bringing the Christmas story to us from a different angle each year: such as from the perspective of the wise men or from Joseph’s point of view
  • Heavy transformer adapters for American Christmas lights and ugh.. repairing individual bulbs!
  • Hanging cards with clothes pins on strings
  • Licking hundreds of envelopes, folding hundreds of newsletters (thank God for email)
  • Christmas spent with our cousins in Amman, Jordan several times or Christmas at ours with stragglers from all corners of the world
  • Grandma visits and plenty of baking
  • Bûches de Noël, tasty ice cream Christmas "logs"
  • Classical music blasting (parents’ initiative) intertwined with more contemporary ethnic music (children's prompting)
  • Our balcony string of lights being an attraction - the only home on the block with Christmas lights!
  • Family gift-experience favored over personal gifts: Opéra de Paris tickets, Cirque du Soleil (before it became famous), ski passes (!!!), Polish concert with orchestra conductor directing from behind, driving to Italian border for an espresso - whaaat?!
  • Save that wrapping paper!
  • Gourmet chocolate boxes sent from friends - only one per person, please.
  • Later as us kids began living on three continents, Christmas became a rare time of family reunions - spent recounting stories from Korea, Mauritania and Germany..

Helen Fail (Helen Jackson)
(UK Military Brat, grew up in the Middle East now living in the UK and the USA)

  • Christmas cards arriving every daycracker
  • Round robin letters
  • Faded, familiar paper decorations
  • Tattered fairy for the tree
  • Parcels from Grandma in England
  • Mince pies
  • Marzipan for the Christmas cake
  • Christ Church Cambridge Choristers singing carols on a crackling LP
  • Church with 9 lessons and carols
  • Military uniforms
  • Sherry and mince pies left for Father Christmas
  • Pillow cases left on the end of the bed
  • Being too excited to sleep
  • Waking up at 4am
  • Pyjamas and wrapping paper everywhere
  • Saving the wrapping paper
  • Swimming on Christmas Day in the Mediterranean (even though it was cold – just because it was Christmas day)
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Christmas Crackers
  • Paper hats
  • Silly jokes
  • Christmas Pudding with brandy butter
  • The Queen’s speech at 3pm

Stefan Batterman
German Citizen, grew up in Kenya, boarding school in Kenya and Germany)lebkuchen

  • Silly Christmas concerts at boarding school. A half day of school which was always a movie. Report cards. Climbing the tallest tree on campus to watch for mum and dad’s car coming to pick us up.
  • Model airplanes, squirt cameras and shriveled apples from Germany, with luck some gummi bears too
  • No shortage of mum’s amazing German cookies
  • Having baths prior to the Christmas Eve gift opening. I can’t wait that long!
  • Real lead tinsel on the tree which was recycled year after year. Real candles too.
  • Cedar Christmas trees
  • British Christmas crackers
  • Bing Crosby, Ray Conniff, Nat King Cole and other American Christmas music on the reel-to-reel tape player. No German music please! What does Frosty the Snowman look like? What is it like to sled?
  • Endless services at a distant Kenyan Church while new gifts sat in the car. Maybe a trip down to Lake Nakuru to see the Flamingos.
  • Shopping in Freiburg and, don’t forget the annual trip to McDonalds. You can order in English and they can’t be nasty German back to you!
  • Snow! So that’s what it’s like.
  • Flying home from Germany to Kenya with suit cases full of foods and gifts
  • Pet bush baby stealing ornaments off of the thorn tree Christmas tree
  • Pet bush baby almost setting itself on fire on the real candles
  • Amazing Christmas spirit and concerts at BFA quickly replaced hours later by a camp site next to Kilimanjaro. Christmas beside the Tana river and then on to the coast for time at the beach.
  • Shopping in the Moscow airport gift store for Christmas gifts. Snow on fur hats. Waking up after landing in Cypress and looking for pyramids because we were supposed to be in Egypt. After 8 hours, the blasting heat of Cairo then a chilly morning in Nairobi and finally home in Maji Moto.
  • 110v Christmas lights in a 220v country
  • Seeing Christmas working lights for the 1st time in College in Pennsylvania. Wow! Walking around campus to enjoy them.
  • Christmas in Canada. Whole houses covered in lights. Amazing!
  • Black Friday. Marketing in overdrive. Christmas spirit killed by Walmart.
  • Lot of years... 4 Kids! Little Tristan standing next to a 30 foot tree asking to take it home. Got the tree today. The kids are excited...


Photo sources:
Papua New Guinea Rain
Opéra de Paris
Christmas Crackers

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