A Christmas far from home

There is nothing quite like a festival that you would usually celebrate with extended family to remind you that you are far from home.

So what happens when you suddenly bump into Christmas while on a sabbatical year?


The beautiful Christmas lights in Plaza Bib Rambla, Granada Spain
The beautiful Christmas lights in Plaza Bib Rambla, Granada Spain
Christmas cheer, Granada, Spain

So you have settled into your new home in a new country, found your feet, your daily routine, and suddenly the Christmas holidays are upon you. Two weeks specifically designed for families to congregate and celebrate together, except…. living in a new country means your extended family are an ocean away.

How best to manage this situation and the expectation of your children who have likely only experienced a few Christmases that were probably spent within the embrace of an extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents?

The School end of year Christmas Concert – so cute!
Spain loves Nativity scenes….they are everywhere in all shapes and sizes


I describe this situation from experience, as it is exactly where we found ourselves during our year in Spain. We had no family to spend Christmas with and as our new Spanish friends scattered to the four winds to be with their respective families, I realised we would be alone pondering what was happening in Australia.

It had me hastily looking for something to keep us occupied during this period. We decided the best antidote was to sign up for an activity that engaged us fully. We considered a bike riding tour but being December in Europe, it would be too cold and rainy. What about a cruise on the Mediterranean? Too expensive and too cold.

Ok then what about something that we couldn’t do at Christmas time in Australia?

All of a sudden I had it…. we would spend Christmas SKIING in the mountains. I was very proud of the idea but was met with apprehension from my husband who thought it all very expensive. I had spent a year as a 16 year old exchange student in a small town in the Swiss alps and suddenly imagined how amazing would it be to take my family to the same place to learn to ski where I had.

And so I made it my mission to find cheap airfares to Geneva (thank you Easyjet!) and accommodation in the mountains (thank you Airbnb). My wonderful Swiss host sister invited us stay with her for a night in Yverdon and we stayed with another school friend in Geneva on the way home. In between I found a cute Airbnb apartment in Crans-Montana ski resort where I had learned to ski so many decades earlier. The lovely owner of the apartment was very generous in lending us her daughters’ skis and ski clothes for our kids. The plan was coming together.

Our children were so excited to be in the snow, learning to ski for the first time and tobogganing every afternoon that they barely had time to think about what everyone else was doing for Christmas back home- genius!!

Joy Joy…tobogganing in Crans-Montana, Switzerland
Up on the Pleine Morte Glacier, some skied down while others slid
A snowy Christmas was a first for this Australian family
And boy did it snow!
Enjoying a Swiss raclette after a day of skiing

And when all was said and done, my husband agreed it was one of the best holidays we had ever had as a family. That was very gracious of him considering I took him (a first time skier who grew up in not very snowy Mexico) on the black runs on the glacier only for him to have to remove his skis and walk and slide back down the mountain. Bad wifey!!

We have now unwittingly created two ski-obsessed children whose new passion is not easily fostered where we live in Australia. We solved one issue only to create another…oh well!

4 thoughts on “A Christmas far from home

  1. Merry Christmas Bianca! Enjoyed your post! Remember I am always here should you need details about Kings College in Soto de viñuelas! We continue to be very happy with the school and love our new suburban location. Even my husband, big city guy, has been pleased. Our friends are going to Granada next week and Jam/Enrique is on their list for good eats! 🙂 You will have to tell me which airbnb property you rented when skiing (referenced in your post) as we are huge airbnb fans and love good recommendations! Warm holiday greetings, Courtney Dodson

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Hi Courtney!
      SO good to hear you are still having a fabulous time in Madrid! Let me know if you do go skiing in Crans Montana and I will happily share with you our fabulous Airbnb apartment. We are counting down until our return trip to Spain this summer. yay!

  2. Hi Bianca,

    I’m so glad you guys enjoyed your time in Spain. I was born and raised in the Canary Islands (an archipelago rather close to Morocco that happens to be a “Comunidad Autónoma” of Spain). I’ve visited Granada quite a few times and I just can’t forget those stunning sceneries and the city centre that takes you back in time. I’m currently living in Germany (the weather has nothing to do with what we’re used to see in Spain/Australia) and I also happen to crave all that the Spanish gastronomy has to offer. I’m currently saving some bucks to embark myself into an adventure such as your (but in my case in Australia!). All of the best and wishing you a great time in Spain when you come back this summer.

    1. Hi Diego, Oh I love these Spain/Australia connections! I dream of Spain, meanwhile you are saving to come to Australia. Good luck with your adventure. I do think climate is important to one’s frame of mind and happiness and I have certainly learned that I cannot live in a cold grey climate. Kind regards, B

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