It’s Christmas Eve, and I’m celebrating it in a snow-covered little city in the middle of Norway with my boyfriend, his family, and their dogs. I often get asked why I don’t travel back to Belgium to celebrate Christmas with my own family. I thought today was a perfect time to address these questions and list my reasons for not spending Christmas with my family in Belgium.
I’m living in another country
I was born and raised in Belgium, but have been living in Norway since 2014. So visiting my family for the holidays isn’t only expensive, it’s also very stressful. And my parents have the opportunity to visit both sides of the family in one day, because they also live in the same city. But for me, visiting my family for Christmas also means I won’t get to see my boyfriend or friends during the holidays.
Christmas in Norway is more beautiful
Two nights ago, I watched the northern lights during dinner, and yesterday I woke up to a nice layer of snow. Winter in Norway is just magical, and it’s the perfect environment to celebrate Christmas in.
I want to create my own traditions
After moving away from home, I felt like it was time to create my own traditions. Christmas is not that special to me and never has been, so I don’t feel like making a big deal out of it, just because society expects me to. Instead of going through all the stress of traveling back to Belgium, I’d rather spend the holidays at my own apartment or with my boyfriend. After all, Norway feels more like home than Belgium ever did.
It’s still possible to communicate with them
Living this far away from my family doesn’t mean I don’t have contact with them. I call my granddad once a week and FaceTime him on a regular basis. I can also talk to my parents that way, or use WhatsApp to chat with them. And a couple of weeks back I visited my family over the weekend. So I have enough other opportunities than Christmas to communicate and spend time with them.
I have to think of my own mental health
Belgium is filled with triggers for my anxiety, and I usually feel worthless for a couple of weeks after visiting my family there. I’ve never had a good relationship with my parents, and they are the ones that caused my anxiety in the first place (but that’s for another post). And my dad’s side of the family is religious, homophobic, sexist, and doesn’t respect any boundaries. Needless to say, it’s not a place where I want to spend my well-earned holidays.
Who will you celebrate Christmas with?