The Quirky Christmas Traditions of Nomadic Travelers

It seems that every year, Christmas finds us in a different location. Whether we’re with family and friends, or on the road somewhere, our unconventional traditions follow us.

We’re probably not that different than your average nomadic traveler however, since Micki and I have gotten together, we’ve started a few quirky Christmas traditions that have become “the norm” for us.

Some are a little odd, a few are traditional, but the most important part of any holiday is being together with our kids.

So when we were approached to work with the TYLENOL® What Matters Most campaign, which looks at how modern families celebrate what matters most during the holidays, we were intrigued by what other people defined as traditional. We then decided to look at our Christmas traditions and how they came about.

Hope you enjoy!

A not so Christmas tree

Merida Peacock Feather Christmas Tree
Sometimes you make do with what you have… Cole and Jo with our peacock feather tree at Christmas in Merida, Mexico

The first time I can remember not being home for Christmas was when I was eight. My parents decided that we were going on a three week road trip to California for the Christmas holidays. Strangely, I can remember more from that trip than I can some of the last places I’ve been to. Maybe it was the novelty of it all that stuck with me.

Being from central Canada, not freezing my arse or having snow on the ground was an obvious difference. The second was that we didn’t have our home with a Christmas tree and all the decorations around. That year, Christmas found us hidden away in a little hotel somewhere in Nevada.

Instead of having friends and family over that year for our typical huge Christmas Eve celebration, we went swimming in a heated outdoor swimming pool and then sat back to watch a Christmas movie on a little tube TV. This old TV was also our Christmas tree that year since it was precariously perched on this cute little stand. I can remember waking up and seeing five little gifts all tucked under the legs and thinking that this was going to be a Christmas to remember.

It was and from then on out, Christmas has always included a tree, or whatever we have on hand that will do in a pinch. This has included everything from a coat rack to our kids favorite, peacock feathers in an oversized vase from a few years ago while we were in Mexico for the holidays.

We’ve found that it doesn’t matter what we use, it’s the spirit in which you use it that counts. Of course, singing O’ Christmas Tree to a coat rack just isn’t the same no matter how much spiced eggnog you’ve had.

Turkey or roast? Nah, it’s Christmas Enchilada time

Tradition dictates that the Christmas meal has to be special. Growing up, that either meant a turkey or roast and all the trimmings. I’m not going to lie, there’s not much I love more than roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy, however being married to a vegetarian means that it’s not going to happen often. Especially when you’re on the road with limited facilities.

Our Christmas enchilada tradition started back in 2003 during our first Christmas on the road together. We were in a cute little cabin by Lake Taupo on the north island of New Zealand that year and wanted to make something special. We had already been away from Canada for 10 months and were craving something unusual. We both love Mexican food so, Micki whipped up a huge batch of enchiladas and voila, a new tradition was born.

It’s been such a hit with us that one year we even convinced Micki’s family to eat Mexican food for the big Christmas meal and everyone enjoyed it.

It also helps that the kids love Mexican food even more than we do so everyone wins and, being the only meat eater, I’m not stuck eating leftovers for two weeks solid.

Stockings hung by the chimney with care! (Let’s just make sure they’re washed first)

I know it’s a little cliché, but in both our families, every year stockings are hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St Nicholas soon will be there.

It was a huge tradition for both of us, and so we continue the tradition wherever we happen to be. The biggest difference is that back home we have dedicated, oversized stockings that are perfect for cramming in various small presents.

On the road, they aren’t practical to carry, however we always have at least one pair or regular socks with us so every year they get strung up on a wall waiting for Santa to appear.

Amazingly, he finds us no matter where in the world we happen to be!

Our Makeshift Christmas Stocking in Playa del Carmen 2010
Our makeshift Christmas stocking in Playa del Carmen

A piñata, sure, why not

A piñata might seem a little odd for non-Spanish people to pick up every year, however since we have spent three Christmases in Mexico with the kids over the years, I guess it’s not that odd.

Here or there, it’s a great tradition and the kids look forward to it every year.

But even pinatas can be a little lost in  translation. Unknown to us, the first piñata we bought in Mexico years ago wasn’t pre-filled with candy, so when a young Cole finally managed to crack it open, the little guy was devastated that it was hollow. I had to make a late night Christmas Eve run to the local store to pick up some treats to make it up to him. Needless to say, we’re a little more careful when we chose one now.

Christmas traditions with a twist

So there you go, there are our take on four classic Christmas Traditions that have been nomadicized (our word; you won’t find in in the Merriam-Webster) for our family. Not exactly the classic Norman Rockwell portrait everyone associates with Christmas traditions, but not so different either.

For us, the most important thing is that we’re together, whether that be sitting at a table eating enchiladas or huddled around a vase of peacock feathers opening presents. There’s no better place to be for the holidays than with your loved ones.

So, our story really isn’t that different from the ones in this For What Matters Most video by TYLENOL. Our families may be different, and we may all celebrate in different ways, but all of us hold family itself dearest to our hearts.

If you’d like to learn more, visit the TYLENOL® What Matters Most campaign, or spread the word on Pinterest.

Tylenol What Matters Most #ForWhatMattersMost

This is a sponsored post. We have received information and materials from McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc., the makers of TYLENOL®. All the opinions are our own. That said, they never asked us to mention dirty socks or peacock feathers. That’s all us. Happy Holidays!