I’m not a huge fan of Christmas. Actually, every year from November onwards, I feel a constantly growing anxiety taking hold of me. The Christmas songs on the streets, all the people stressed out to the maximum during their shopping rounds, how Christmas has become more and more commercial year after year and also, living on the northern hemisphere, the short and dark days without snow…With all this, the pre-christmas time is far from fun if you ask me. The only good things really are the Christmas markets and being aware of the slowly approaching days off, when you can have a proper rest. Therefore, every year during the summertime at the latest, I start thinking whether this year I should spend the holidays abroad or not. Should I just simply run away from it all or not? But then, at the same time I know how nice it is to gather up with the family during the holidays, spend some much anticipated time together, relaxing and going over the past year, as well as sharing plans for the upcoming one. There really are not that many things that can compete with that. Therefore, during the past 10+ years, I’ve been trying to balance between these two alternatives, spending on average every other year abroad and every other in Finland. This year, however, I did get to combine these without the need to choose between the two. At least partially.
Departing from Finland a week before Christmas, I headed to Myanmar together with Olli. The Christmas days were spent sightseeing and travelling around the country. Our Christmas meal was chicken and rice/noodles together with a cold lager, just like on any other day in Myanmar. I’ve never really liked the traditional Christmas foods, so this suited me just fine. The closest to a Christmas feeling we got was when arriving to Bagan on Christmas eve and being welcomed to our hotel by a santa, handing out presents to us. After our “Christmas meal” we had a quick skype-call home. After this, our Christmas celebrations were over. Basically before they even really started. To be honest, I never really got to the Christmas mood, and I did not miss it at all. Actually, I’m not even sure if we wished each other a merry Christmas at all at any stage. For me, this was a perfect way to spend Christmas. I got away from it all and got to spend my holidays in one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.
After Myanmar it was time to head to Kuala Lumpur, the bustling capital of Malaysia, where we were to celebrate new year. We were met by my sister and her family, who had been spending Christmas in Australia and by my parents, who were just starting their vacation in the area. All of our travel plans were made so that we would spend three days together in KL. Chilling by the pool, playing around with the kids, toasting to the holidays, the new year and good travels. Touring around the city together and watching the spectacular fireworks as the year changed. Lots of laughter, lots of fun moments together. What else could you possibly need?
When looking back, both Christmas days and the new year were just like any other days on the trip, had not the burmese santa been there and had not the spectacular KL fireworks taken my breath away. Still, I can say I had the best possible Christmas travelling, and got to spend time with my family during the holidays. I really could not be any more grateful for this. I did not have to stay home and be in the middle of the pre-christmas fuss. There were no huge piles of presents, no traditions, no big preparations. Instead there were big adventures, great times exploring new places and lots of quality time together with my close ones. Precious moments in many ways.
Now, I know that this all sounds horrible to some. For many people, Christmas is the most precious holiday of the year with all the traditions and they could not even imagine running away from it and going abroad. But for me, this is just what I wanted, what I like. To be honest, if I could decide, this is the way I’d love to spend the Christmas holidays always, this is something I’d like to see becoming a tradition instead of dancing around the Christmas tree, looking out of the window, hoping the snow to fall down.