Monday, 8 December 2014

Journaling the Magic of an Expat December

As regular readers will know, I have long been an advocate of journaling, and in particular a fan of Gadanke journals. Now that December is underway, my Joy to the World Christmas journal is in daily use for the third year running. Can you imagine the fun we'll have in years to come when my three little boys are (I almost don't want to think about it) teenagers and we look back on the Christmas celebrations captured in the journals?

As expat adults we most likely celebrate the festive period a little differently now than when we were children. I know I do. We expats now live in a different country than the one we lived in as a child. Some of us have a family from a different cultural background to our own. We may even celebrate different holidays to the ones we did when whilst we were growing up.

We expats also go to great lengths to recreate the holidays we know and love when we are living overseas - even if it means scouring the land for an expat shop that stocks a jar of Robertson's mincemeat to make mince pies, begging family to send Christmas puddings through the post or being very creative with substitutes.

And the way we celebrate this year may well look very different next year, or in a few years time. So, I'm all for capturing moments, taking a snapshot of how things are now as a keepsake for the future.

I for one had never even heard of Sinterklaas and pakjesavond on the 5th December until 2000 when I moved to the Netherlands. Capturing my adult experiences of a childhood celebration that was not part of my childhood is something special.

The joy on my children's faces as Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands on Pakjesboot 12 in November is something I want to capture for the years ahead when they no longer believe. The excitement during the build up to the big celebration on the 5th December is something I want to hold tight, remember in the years to come. So I use my 'Tis the Season to record our family celebration of Sinterklaas, and once he gets back on the boat to Spain, I switch to Christmas mode.

Christmas. A festive celebration I know how to do. Back on familiar ground. Every day in December we do something special as a lead up to the 25th, advent envelopes with activities in that mean something to us as family. And I keep the cards in the journal, as well as photos of the activities and little notes.

The wonderful thing about Gadanke journals is that there are smatterings of hints and prompts to get me thinking about all the senses and how Christmas impacts on them: the smell of Christmas pudding, the bangs from the Christmas crackers, the scrunching of wrapping paper, the feel of little arms wrapped around my neck as we read a Christmas story by candlelight.

Journaling is also a great creative outlet - giving me the time I need to just sit quietly and reflect. December is magical, and short of being able to bottle that magic, I capture it all with my 'Tis the Season journal instead. You know, I think December may well be my favourite month of the year!

Tip: These journals make amazing, thoughtful and original presents for loved ones, including your children.

Do you keep a journal? How do you capture memories to look back on in the years to come?

*All links to Gadanke are affiliate links, which means if you click through and become the owner of a beautiful Gadanke journal I earn a few pennies too.* 


  1. Lovely idea, have just ordered some journals Thanks

  2. That's fantastic Rosalind - hope you love them as much as I do!! :-)

  3. This is just the sort of thing I love too and will definitely be getting some (or pointing my husband in the right direction for Christmas). Thanks for bringing these to my attention.