Costa Rica. Colombia. Mexico. Argentina. Those are the places where some of my mom friends are going to celebrate Christmas in a few days. They are immigrant moms like me and I understand how much these trips mean to them.
After all these years living in the United States, I would have imagined that at this point I have gotten used to celebrating Christmas away from my home country. (Well, away from Ecuador because North Carolina is also home.) But no, I have not.
Don’t get me wrong. I have had the most wonderful Christmas in the United States but the season still brings me some nostalgia. I think they call it homesickness? It’s a mix of complex feelings that only someone who has lived away from home for a long period of time could comprehend well.
5 Ways to Celebrate Christmas When You Are An Immigrant Mom
1. ¡Échale ganas mija! Think positive
¡Échale ganas! That is what my mom tells me all-the-time. And I think she’s right, we need to think positive while also giving ourselves the time to process all the emotions. Be gentle to yourself.
2. Use the technology
Twelve years ago, I still needed to buy $25 phone cards to call to my parents. If I remember well it was $0.43 the minute for a long distance call to Ecuador. FORTY THREE CENTS. Until this day, I swear I was out of minutes in a blink of the eye.
Thankfully, we now have so many great resources to communicate with the rest of the world for free. It’s more reliable, practical and faster than those expensive phone cards. I have Whatsapp for messaging, phone calls and video calls, and FaceTime for group calls. Make sure to use those resources as much as possible. They will shorten the distance and make you feel part of their lives.
3. Keep your traditions alive
Teach your traditions to your children and find ways to incorporate them in your home. You can start by reading books, cooking a traditional meal, listening music or making a special craft. Another idea to keep your traditions alive is to check with your local facebook groups, museums or festivals for any cultural activities that you can bring your family.
4. Adjust, adopt and balance
As important as is to keep your traditions alive is to also adjust and adopt to new ones. Give yourself the time to explore and discover the meanings behind the traditions of the new place where you live. You don’t have to adopt all the things but make sure to have an open mind. It’s all about finding balance.
5. Enjoy the journey
Yes, tip #5 has to do with #1, but I wanted to end with the same message because it’s so important as moms and immigrants know that it’s okay to give ourselves time to process all the emotions and feelings and also to find the joy in the journey of raising bilingual and bicultural children.