There’s something about experiencing national holidays while outside of the US. Between 2012 and 2014, I’ve now spent a few of these special days abroad, away from family, but very much with good friends (some of whom have become family). Whether it has been Thanksgiving, Christmas or the Fourth of July, one thing is pretty standard, while there’s tons of food and camaraderie to be had, there’s no place like home. But that’s okay! After all, part of the reason for being in a new country in the first place is because you were looking for something out of the ordinary of home life and what is to be expected at Auntie’s annual cookout. In July 2014, I spent the 4th in Hong Kong with a couple of friends who were with me on a two month internship. One was a fellow Californian, and the other was actually Danish! The three of us set out to Central, a hip section on HK Island, to have what was billed as an authentic American Fourth of July Dinner, complete with bar-b-que, corn on the cobb, a baked potato and baked beans, cole slaw and watermelon. We all agreed, unfortunately, that it was nothing to write home about, whether home was the US or Denmark!
A couple of years before I spent Thanksgiving in the UAE with a group of colleagues from the US. One of our co-workers asked her mom to internationally Fed-Ex some staple ingredients that are usually found across Black American dinner tables on Thanksgiving. I have to admit, that food spread was some kind of wonderful, and it was particularly special to not only break bread with friends from all over the world, but to take part in the tradition of circling up and expressing what we were genuinely thankful for. Though we were easily twelve hours ahead of the actual time of the holiday in the States, it was perfect timing for all of us that made it! I don’t think I’ve had a similar Thanksgiving experience since that one year in Dubai. It certainly made an impression that I’ll never forget.
Then there was Christmas and New Year’s in South Africa! Thanks to a dear friend who I consider family at this point, I was invited to spend about two weeks in SA where I visited Johannesburg, Mafikeng, Stellenbosch, Cape Town and Soweto. The was, in effect, my introduction to life on the Mother Continent, and has every bit to do with why I’m interested in spending some more significant time there. Though I arrived and spent a day or so in Jozie, we left for Mafikeng, the town where my friend was raised, and spent about five days with her parents and family, including Christmas day and their annual day after Christmas party. At first it was a bit strange that Christmas in SA takes place during their summer season, and I made such a big deal about being able to wear a sun dress on Christmas day… until it dawned on me that there have been MANY a Christmas in Southern Cali where I was raised where the temperatures were in the mid-70s or higher!
My hands down favorite holiday abroad was New Year’s Eve in Cape Town! A couple of days before, my friends and I had spent the afternoon wine farm hopping in Stellenbosch where the wineries are plentiful. The joie de vivre and camaraderie tripled once December 31st arrived and we put on our all white, feathers and masquerade masks!
Starting the evening with dinner at The Grand Daddy Hotel Cape Town and ringing the new year at St. Yves in Camps Bay, we celebrated January 1st surrounded by their beautiful friends at a party sponsored by Ciroc at Cape Royale! This is the AFRICA I want more of!!!!! #FACTS
While I’m no longer interested in living abroad full time, at least not at this part of my life, I really could see spending more New Year’s Eve celebrations in South Africa with the homies! They really know how to live it up, and that’s all a global bon vivant can ask for!!!