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December 18, 2012

Christmas and community on the road

This year we’re celebrating Christmas in Borneo. Last year we were on Cape Cod, in the USA, the year before that, Guatemala, the year before that, Canada, the year before that found us in Tunisia, camped in the cold on the edge of the ocean of sand.

One of the most interesting parts of our journey has been discovering the differences in celebration around the world. In Tunisia, we were the only one’s celebrating Christmas at all. In Guatemala, we enjoyed the processions, broke a pinata, and sewed stockings for 16 people out of local huipile fabric. Sometimes we’re lucky, and family joins us in some far flung place, some years, we are completely alone.

But we aren’t. Not really.

As long term travelers we learned, early on, the value and necessity of creating community as we go. We actively look for other folks who are out of their element and draw them in to celebrate with us. In Tunisia, this was a missionary family for Thanksgiving. In Guatemala, it was a whole houseful of backpackers who slept on our floor, stacked like cord wood, in front of our fireplace. Even when we were cycling for a year, we always carried two extra sets of plates and forks so that we could invite people to share a meal, cooked on our camp stoves, at the drop of a hat.

We have a few family holiday traditions: stockings of some sort are always hung (and filled!) We always read A Christmas Carol aloud. The kids make decorations. We make a few cookies if we have an oven. And, we find people. There have been very few holidays that didn’t include friends or strangers in my life. I was raised by people who took it upon themselves to welcome the world, the sick and poor to the rich and ridiculous, and it’s a deep rooted part of our family culture.

We’ve just arrived in Miri, Malaysia, where we’ll spend Christmas this year. We’re on the hunt for some people to have in to celebrate with us. What are your Christmas traditions on the road? How do you create community wherever you go?

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Category: General, Hospitality, On The Road, Vagabonding Life

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