Christmas season is upon us. The obligations of presents to send overseas, end of year events, carols, and the best and worst Christmas jingles in my ear, all let me know that it is time to go with the flow and try to enjoy the ride.
At this point, I need to acknowledge that for some (including me) there is a sadness hovering over the season like a Harry Potter Dementor. One of my two recently widowed friends sent this post to me. I thought it timely to share for those who may be anticipating tears during the season. Here is the link. I hope it helps.
People will be travelling to celebrate the end of the year or festive season. Much of the travel will be to visit relatives. Changing countries temporarily, even a change of a country that you were once familiar with can cause blunders. Here is a list of cultural blunders that you may not have known you were doing. This was sourced from the blog Travel and Leisure. World’s Worst Cultural Mistakes.
The blunders include:
Knowing Your Right from Your Left
Keeping your clothes on
Not getting lei’d
Looking Them in the Eye…or Not
Drinking Alcohol the Wrong Way
Blowing Your Nose
Talking Over Dinner
Signing Off with a Kiss
The full information is in the link above. It has pictures and advertisements, or you can read the information without pictures or advertisements here.
Just a few more
If you would like to know more, David Livermore’s blog on cross-cultural blunders has a few examples from his readers including an Austrian returning to China and being told, “Wow you’ve become fat.” Or a German considering small talk on business calls is a waste of time. (My experience is that New Zealand thrives on introductory pleasantries on the phone.)
It is worth remembering that these are experiences of individuals. If we take them too rigidly we too will make blunders as we are considering the stereotype rather than the individual. Read more here.
One door closes
As my beautiful mother died earlier this year we had to find a new home for her belongings. My siblings have been marvelous in both looking after her estate, and making sure everyone had a chance to have some of her possessions. My sister in New Zealand and I shared the costs to have our takings shipped to New Zealand. As I write, the parcels have arrived somewhere in NZ. Due be unloaded at Wellington, an earthquake in November stopped the Wellington port being used. Mum’s treasures were shipped elsewhere. This delay in the process of unpacking Mum has accentuated the mixed feelings around receiving and unpacking the parcels. I am afraid the grief I may have suppressed (who knows whether you are really feeling all the grief) will overwhelm me. This fear reminds me of the approach of the death anniversary of my father, where, as the date drew nearer, I felt as if he was going to die again. The day came, and it wasn’t as bad as I feared. I did feel sad, and cried, but the sun came up the next day.
Intellectually, I know I will get through the unpacking of the treasures that were Mum’s. I may even enjoy seeing her belongings. I will relish smelling her in her scarves, and toast her as I use her tumblers. I will probably cry too. Having her belongings is another tangible sign that she is really gone. No longer can I ring her or think of a time to see her. No longer can I touch her, talk to her, hear her. This woman made me and now she is gone. How will I be without her? Time for another door to open.
This time last year I bought Mum’s Christmas present and was glad that I could give it to her face to face, see the delight it gave her, and watch her show off my present to visitors. Precious memories are what we have left. For those memories I am grateful, and they make me feel loved in a happy-sad Christmas cocktail way.
Feeling happy-sad is part of a full life so from Migrant Emotions, best wishes for the festive season and next year. May you live fully, love and feel loved.