So, here we go! Another festive holiday season is almost upon us and I sincerely hope you are better prepared than me!

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. I hate the commercialism but love the celebration and sentiment. I believe that one full month per year is plenty enough time to devote to the festive period and therefore don’t start to contemplate its proximity until the 6th of December. Which means, TODAY! Then I descend into panic mode.

Olga Mecking prompted an interesting discussion on Facebook this week. She is Polish and in Poland the tree and decorations don’t make an appearance until Christmas Eve. This was always how it was in my home when I was a child. I can see arguments for and against particularly where my poor Mum was concerned. She was often a nervous wreck by the time she staggered into midnight mass, ready for her final task of the day, playing the organ for the carols.

Olga’s discussion brought all kinds of different traditions to the fore. Christmas trees making appearances for many in late November and many loving the light and fun of early decorations. What traditions do you have? When will you be putting up your tree? Do you even have a tree? I remember as a child, one year we had a branch, painted silver, apparently a Swedish tradition. My brother and I were horrified. Maybe you don’t celebrate Christmas at all, or only specific aspects of the holiday season.

We’d love to hear about this time of year in your life. Pop over the Facebook and share what the holiday season means to you.

Olga is our podcast guest this week as I interview her about her life in The Hague. We recorded the interview in the summer but it is timely to post the interview today because we talk about some fantastic book projects that Olga has been involved in. Perhaps they will solve a gift idea or two for you. Titles and links are shared below.

And the topic of our conversation is also relevant to this time of year. We talk, amongst other things about the loneliness and sense of isolation that can come with expat life. This is something I relate to from several moves and found that even when returning home, I was not immune.

During our conversation Olga shares:

  • The event that tipped her into action professionally, it is not what you might think.
  • What she did to build her network, her actions may spark ideas for you too.
  • The books and online communities that have grown from those ideas.

Olga advises those that are relocating to   

‘Reach out to expat groups even before you move, then you will have a support system when you arrive.’

I believe that one strength we develop as expats is independence. We learn to cope, alone and to become pretty self-sufficient. However, it can be lonely to be independent and truthfully we all need to receive support and give support to flourish. Renee Brown talks about this in this brief interview. She says when talking about her children:

‘I want them to be independent and know their own free will and free choice AND I want them to know that all of those things mean nothing if they don’t need and they are not needed. You know we don’t have to do it by ourselves, we weren’t meant to………… You can acquire, accumulate and accomplish with independence, but you love and live with need.’    Renee Brown

You can read Olga’s blog at European Mama and her contributions at the Multicultural Kids Blog. Look out for Olga’s future books, she is currently working on a novel and a memoir.

The books Olga talks about in the interview are as follows:

  • Dutched Up: Rocking the Clogs Expat Style. Lynn Morrison and Olga Mecking
  • Once Upon An Expat – An Anthology. Lisa Webb and Nicole Webb
  • Knocked Up Abroad – Lisa Ferland
  • Martinis and Motherhood. Tales of Wonder Woe and WTF. Shannon Day & Tara Wilson.

Enjoy the interview.

Happy holiday season preparation.

Best wishes,

Louise & Evelyn