Easter is an important holiday for our family
When I get ready to make another international move, I try to get all my ducks in a row. I put all my eggs in one basket, so I can carefully get ready for the move. I know many of you will think we should not have all of our eggs in one basket but when you commit to go to a new job, a new location, a new school, and a new culture – you need to be fully committed. You need to have everything set and ready to go! You need to carefully lay out a plan!
When many expats move, they have this vision that they can build up their lives into some nicely layered experience. They blend their home culture into their new culture. Making layer after layer, build up into a beautiful, pleasant experience for the whole family. Not only do they want all their eggs in one basket, but they also want to stack their eggs! I am not sure this works very well for many expats.
Reality seldom meets our expectations
As an expat, you can quickly get sidetracked and forget what is most important in your family. You get worried about your child’s interactions. You worry about the exposure your child has to something different from his or her home environment.
I can easily recall a valid concern I have had in each location we have lived in:
- Pago – Pago – Will the ship ever arrive with basic supplies? (Laundry soap, tampons, and toothpaste)
- The USA – Houston -Will my boss get arrested for fraud? (The only job I have every quit)
- Singapore – Will we make it home often enough to stay connected with family?
- Perth – Will the kids know their grandparents?
- USA -Danville Can we pay the bills?
- Indonesia – Jakarta -The preschool vs. a working mom saga
- Indonesia – Duri -Will the limited amount of friends scar my child’s interactions?
- Nigeria -Will having security guards with automatic guns on the school bus harm my child’s development?
- Thailand – Will the exposure to the seedy parts of the town harm my children?
- Indonesia -Balikpapan – Will our kids every come to visit again?
- Retirement – USA/Honduras -Will I ever have close friends again?
But this is our life and as Expats-
We are known to rise above the heat and make the best of the current situation we are in.
Sometimes an international move is not in your family’s best interest. Different decisions have to be made. Often these same decisions are part of a family’s life that are not global nomads. Sometimes a family just runs into a tricky part of their life, and one family member needs a different type of support than what the family current offers.
Often when a family is in crisis – a family ritual can help the family feel connected and safe.
Family rituals are important
Children tend to love family rituals, even if they don’t admit it. Rituals provide a sense of security and can be soothing. A family ritual is anything your family does together deliberately. The routine of whatever you do is what counts. It can be anything. Just make sure you do it consistently.
Rituals are emotionally enriching. It is never too late to start a ritual. Some children may resist being involved in such rituals. But if rituals are presented in a non-controlling manner, and you manage your expectations, all family members will ‘get on board’ much more readily than you thought.
I have worked with many families that want to start building closer family time, and sometimes the rituals begin with just one person, but if that person feels it is essential and keeps trying sooner or later, the event can become a ritual. Other family members can start to enjoy the routine.
Sometimes the ritual comes from having another culture in your life
We have always celebrated Christmas over the top! We use beautiful Christmas plates with lovely scenes on them. Some are Santa related, and some have a religious theme. These plates travel around the world with us. We only use them during the Christmas season, but our children were always ‘delighted’ when I would get out the Christmas plates.
One Easter, my mother, was visiting Indonesia.
We had a lovely Easter egg hunt in our garden and headed off to church. When we got home, our maid had set the table for our beautiful Easter Feast. She had laid out the Christmas plates. She put the artificial Easter grasses around the center of the table and carefully laid our Easter eggs out as decorations. Then she had carefully added the silver tinsel we put on the Christmas tree.
The table was lovely but ‘strange’ for my young children and even more bizarre for my mother from Kansas. She was not used to Christmas plates and tinsel at Easter time. I told our maid the table was lovely.
“Sri, the table is lovely, but we seldom use these plates, except at Christmas,” I stated.
“Isn’t Easter like Christmas?” she asked.
We must have all had blank faces because she then replied, “You know with Jesus and all that Christian stuff?”
Yes, it made sense to our Muslim maid to have plates that celebrate Jesus’s birth also to use those plates to celebrate his death. We had not made the connection and had not used our Christmas plates in that fashion before this unique Easter celebration.
Now it is a family ritual.
I am often not as brave as Sri was at Easter. When we have other families over for an Easter celebration, you will not see my table fully decorated with Christmas plates and Christmas tinsel.
But you will find a lovely plate of deviled eggs. As more and more eggs disappear, you will see that they have been sitting on one of our beautiful Christmas plates. I will need to remember to pack a Christmas plate and leave it in Roatan for when we have Easter in the Caribbean. We have to make sure one of our unique global situations continues to be a family ritual.
Families who move together – grow together.