“Won’t you miss the holidays when you’re in China?”

(photo by christina rutz via Flickr.com)

“Won’t you miss the holidays when you’re in China?”

I couldn’t fault American friends for asking. It’s not just that John and I are moving back to China permanently. We’re also leaving the US on Thanksgiving Day, which means we’ll miss that holiday as well as Christmas, the king of them all.

It’s true. Perhaps years from now, I’ll wax nostalgic for those Thanksgiving dinners that filled the house with the smell of sage and pumpkin spice, or how I used to trim the tree together with my family, or eating figs and chocolate truffles on Christmas morning. And I’ll miss my family in the US once I’m far away.

Yet ever since I’ve married John, my idea of the holidays has changed forever. It’s not just about my American holidays — it’s also about his Chinese holidays too, which I’ve come to miss since we’ve stayed in the US. At the same time, even my American holidays feel different with him in my life, where five-spice turkey and Chinese dumplings complete my Thanksgiving dinner. The holidays just aren’t the holidays anymore without him and the unique, cross-cultural world we’ve created together.

If anything, I’m not worried about what I’m missing because I married John and am moving my life to China — because I know I’ve gained so much more.

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19 Replies to ““Won’t you miss the holidays when you’re in China?””

  1. Exactly, Jocelyn. I can so relate. I only celebrated Christmas for my husband, honestly. I gave him his first holiday tree and it made him happy. For Thanksgiving, we have dim sum or something. We don’t do turkey.

    My favourite holiday is Chinese (Lunar) New Year where you have a big gathering with the entire family. I drink with my husband’s aunt, my mother in law plays Mahjong with her sisters. We stay late till at least after midnight. 🙂

  2. I think its more like the feelings that we have, whether or not we can put it in right places, if only families and loves one all get together in all holiday seasons in both culture, then would be perfect. not just that wife’s family, but also husband ‘s family as well in cross culture relationship, I also think that the feelings of missing to be homes always be somewhat a grief for people in situation like that; since she/he is in distance from home, but at least, you got love ones with you so thats something can compensate more from this feelings of being homesick or loneliness.
    I guess life is just like this. last “home is where the heart is “, and” It is love that makes the impossible possible.” so I hope Jocelyn and John, so all people who are in cross culture relationship make you own special holidays. wish you all happy.

    -Random Chinese Guy

  3. Strangely, my Chinese family do not celebrate any holidays in anywhere. We just do not care for any holiday or celebrations including birthdays. Also it is hard for my family to be together in the first place since we spread all over world.

    Most of us hold uncommon jobs. With uncommon job, you have to go where the job is, not where you like. Rare the job, higher the pay usually.

  4. Oh man, I miss the holidays terribly when I am in China! But perhaps this is partially due to the fact that my husband’s Chinese family do not really celebrate Chinese holidays…so there is no special experience there.

  5. I always envisioned combining holidays; the holidays that will be important to whoever I’ll be with along with a lot of mine (New Years, birthdays, March 8th, Thanksgiving, Jewish New Years, Chanukkah and maybe I might incorporate a few more.)

  6. When we lived in the Philippines, we adjusted. We had two stuffed chickens for Thanksgiving and invited friends over instead of family. For Christmas, we bought the beautiful star lanterns found everywhere in Manila at that time of year. They’re made from tissue paper and split bamboo. We didn’t have Christmas trees, but we had poinsettias eight feet tall in our garden. No bunnies on Easter, but Good Friday was super serious. We skipped Halloween, but UN Day was a fantastic dress-up day at the Manila International School.

    I think it was easier for us than for the family we left behind, which after my dad died, was only my mom, my sister and my nephew.

  7. I think I would miss the celebrations with my family if I moved away, more than the celebrations themselves. My boyfriend’s family don’t really celebrate anything so I don’t get to know much about the Chinese celebrations. It’s a shame…it’s like there is nothing in life to look forward to when you don’t celebrate. I’ve had to introduce my boyfriend to Valentines Day Pancake Day, Easter, Halloween (not much though because I think Halloween is pretty stupid), Bonfire night and Christmas.

    Today is Bonfire night in the UK, so I’m about to teach my boyfriend about making guys and we’re setting off some fireworks later! 🙂

  8. For me it’s my first Christmas away from my family, there’s only me and my husband and he literally doesn’t celebrate anything. Not even his Chinese holidays, I need to deal with keep both of our traditions alive. I hope I won’t be too upset with upcoming Christmas and I also hope you will be happy as well 🙂 I’m pretty sure since more and more Chinese are opened to Western holidays you will be able to have some fun together 🙂

  9. I know how you feel. When I thought I was moving to Hong Kong for good, it never fazed me that I was missing the US holidays. First, my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, so no loss there. And second, Thanksgiving was always about either finding someone to stay with or battling heavy airport traffic to go home. It’s not that I don’t like big family get-togethers, but that’s just the reality when you live overseas. It’s ironic because now Tom and I host 30+ people at both Thanksgiving and Passover, two holidays I rarely, if ever, celebrated in Hong Kong. Funny how things work out!

  10. I agree with AMWF Couple that it is like you have nothing to look forward to if you don’t celebrate. And I agree too with Lina that it is important to try to keep traditions alive, although she did not say so in the exact words.

    Traditional holidays give us an excuse to break from work and get together. It is not everyday that you get to meet family members and relatives or friends to catch up with each other and enjoy a day or two off from our busy schedules.

    God knows we need an excuse or two to break from work. We just can’t be senselessly bogged down with earning a living as life passes by us relentlessly.

    I know people say that if you have enough money, everyday is a holiday.

    Is it?

    Even if you are loaded and can afford to celebrate everyday, it won’t be the same. Only you and those around you may be “celebrating”. It’s just not the same kind of feeling when every else are celebrating with you.

    Others argue that traditional holidays are often silly and meaningless, if not actually wasteful and a commercial ploy to part you from your hard earned dough that bring more stress than joy.

    It depends on how you celebrate. If you celebrate just to keep up with and be seen to be on par with the Joneses, of course, you are going to stress out not only yourselves and everyone else around you, but also you are going stretch thin you financial resources.

    But why should holidays be serious? Why indeed? Why are we always trying to kill ourselves with seriousness?

    Why are we always so serious with life?

    Isn’t life already such a pain in the you know where that we don’t need to add further misery and sombreness to it?

  11. Report some good news for Asian American here.
    Based on US bureau of Labor statistics. Current earning report on Nov 1, 2013.

    Median weekly earnings: Asian American $922, White $794, Black $630, Hispanic $587.

    Remember Median reflect better than Average about a group since one Bill Gate can really distort the whole picture with average.

    Despite of racial discrimation, we still made it.

    Do not believe crap that money do not buy your happyness. It is sour grape argument. With more money, I now can do a lot of self-actualization fun stuff including charity work for poor in 3rd world countries. Like Bill Clinton said, charity work was actually a selfish act which brings tremendous joy to the person of giving.

  12. I know that a long time ago on asian making the most. On radio, they just talk about whites out scoring blacks and Hispanics on academics but don’t mention on asian because whites don’t want to look bad. Whites know that asian beat them already. Making more money won’t help asian men w/ women. Your physique , personality, job title (little money ok), confidence will attract women. You can have money but if your like a log, women won’t want you period.

    1. “Your physique , personality, job title (little money ok), confidence will attract women.”

      This is true. But how many of these factors you have control of? You really can not change your physique very much. Personality is very hard to change. Only job title is some thing you can work hard to change. As for confidence, it will fluctuate with many factors including achievement, physique, ect. At end, you only have few thing you can change.

      No doubt, despite of their low income, black guys attract more white women than Asian men. You all know why. But you guys are not black. Just forget about some thing you can not change. Focusing on negative unchangeable factors only bring yourself depression which will make you losing confidence. Focusing on your strength will give you confidence.

      Next point, strong courtship skill is related to polygamous animals. For monogamous animals, you only need courtship activity once in your life. The rule also apply to human species. Any ethnic or racial group present with strong secondary sexual characters is correlated with higher number of sexual partners in their life (human polygamous behavior). You need those strong secondary sexual physiques to attract opposite sex all over your life since such society often involved with numerous sexual partners.

      Here come the political incorrect part. Oriental people have least secondary sexual difference between male and female since they are biologically most monogamous in homo sapien. If some one looks super sexy, that individual is designed to attract opposite sex through its life to meet new partners.

      No you can not have both ways biologically speaking.

  13. a smaller scale of this situation happens between couples from different parts of china, eg a man from north and a woman from south or vice versa. the solution i know is one year celebrating lunar new year in the family of the man and next year in the family of the woman, or a two-year cycle, u can make it three. as for missing the family member in the duration of the cycle, use email, phone or web cam to keep in contact is a way. also, just as Lina said, ppl in china celebrating western festivals and ppl in the us celebrating china’s festivals, u can have them both no matter where u r.

  14. Sorry, I’m a little late to this, and this comment may come across as a little churlish but I assure you I mean no offence. I always thought Americans had it easy when it comes to holidays in China – there’s plenty of you and thanks to Hollywood everybody knows your holidays. Of course, especially in the smaller towns, concessions and compromises have to be made, but still, at the very least you have that “safety in numbers”. Spare a thought for those of us from small countries. We share Christmas and Easter, though our traditions differ, but we have holidays nobody else here knows about. It’s weird when an American wishes me a happy ANZAC Day (yes, that did happen!), and things like that require a bit of explanation. And we don’t have the numbers. I was the only Kiwi in Taiyuan when I lived there. There were 3 Australians, so I suppose we could’ve organised something for ANZAC Day. But what of Waitangi Day? And then imagine when cross-cultural includes cross-hemispheres. Christmas for me is supposed to be kids running around barefoot outside in the summer sun. I don’t enjoy having to wrap my daughter up warm against the winter cold on Christmas Day – that’s just plain wrong. Then one day the situation may well be worse, and my wife may be the one having to cope with her traditional holidays all being in the “wrong” season.

  15. Remember attracting women is very different from building a long relationship. Some men/women just like to attract the opposite sex but they don’t want to maintain a relationship. I didn’t intend to attract women before when I was changing my physique. I just wanted to be fit and I was not aware of what those women were attracted to. It’s easier when you’re fit. Why? Women want to be seen with attractive ( physique) men you know. Their friends will talk about you so women want reassurance . I’m generalizing here but it’s true. Two deadly combinations are nice physique and nice personality = very attractive. They don’t even care if you’re poor. They just want to be with you. Many people ask me why I still work out in my 40’s . I deal with people so I have to look good and my energy radiates to show I really take care of my body. When I wear short / long sleeve shirt, at least my chest ,trapezius, deltoid , shoulder, biceps, triceps are exposed like wearing a glove. You don’t see a lot of Asian guys working out for life in the muscle building section. Most of my Asian friends quit fitness after they get married. They’ve become bald, out of shape, weak, aging fast and stressed out. When I texted them my pictures , they said WTF. They are still curious on how can I still maintain this long over 16 yrs. The secret is … Don’t give up. motivate yourself and don’t listen to anybody.

  16. Me and my Chinese wife live in Europe and celebrate the Chinese and the standard European holidays. In addition we more or less also celebrate certain Finnish and German holidays, which adds up rather much a year.

    The thing is I do not know what I would miss more when moving to China: the holiday celebration themselves (eg. Christmas) or the actual paid holidays you get in Europe. I mean, in China the holidays look rather meager when compared to Germany where you have in average at least 29days holidays a year + ~10 official holidays + all the other benefits you get…
    This alone is so far reason enough for me and especially my wife (who is really fond of all the paid holidays) not to move to China thus far

  17. After living in Asia for five years, I have to say that spending Christmas in China just isn’t the same as home. Of course, as the years pass by it doesn’t start to bother me as much, but since I’m really a fan of “the Christmas spirit,” being in Asia during the holidays does make me feel a bit lonely. In Shanghai, the closest I get to feeling like Christmas is having a Gingerbread Starbucks Latte that comes in a red cup. I miss hearing Christmas songs, seeing billboards for Christmas and the whole “Christmas cheer.”

    And I agree with Limo. Christmas just isn’t a big deal here and they don’t see it as a holiday… Therefore, I’ll have to work on Christmas this year. Also, even when we have holidays in China (like Chinese new year, usually get 7 days off), the Chinese government always makes us “make up” for the holiday. It’s really ridiculous… for example, if we get mon-fri off we’ll have to work the following Saturday and Sunday to “make up for it.” There is NOTHING worse than working on a weekend. Everyone’s motivation is low, efficiency even lower, and nothing gets done.

    And although there’s Chinese New Year here (to potentially make up for the lack of Christmas), I didn’t grow up Chinese so it just doesn’t hit home for me.

    But what’s important is: Keep loved ones around you wherever you are on that special holiday. Whether you’re with your Chinese boyfriend making jiaozi in the USA on Chunjie or eating KFC while watching Home Alone in Shanghai on Christmas, just being with people you love and care about is what counts most.

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