My People

I was completely unaware I was feeling the way I was, until the tears came.

For the past few weeks just about everyone I knew had asked what we were doing for Christmas. I’d cheerfully responded that we were staying in Doha. I’d listed the practicalities of how expensive it is to fly home, the excess baggage carrying presents back and forth, how spectacular the weather is in Doha right now.

We did it last year. We’d spent Christmas morning in our new home, with the advantages of technology Grandparents had watched the presents being unwrapped and joined in with the “what is it, what is it” excitement. Lunch was spent at a hotel and we happily indulged in endless bubbles, mountains of food and chocolate fountains. We decided it was “so much easier” (and so much cheaper) than going home to Australia.

Yesterday I sat with G and a friend in a Doha park, the little travelers and their friends were climbing Frangipani trees and kicking the soccer ball. We were chatting about the lead up to Christmas. It wasn’t until I was asked directly “so how do you feel about spending Christmas Day here” that I had to admit to myself that something had changed in the past few days, the conviction wasn’t there like it had been. The endless bubbles and chocolate fountains weren’t providing the same excitement. My voice had that shaky tone that comes in the preliminary moment to tears when I said “I think I’d like to be home”. As I looked off in to the distance trying to inconspicuously wipe away the tears that were welling, my lovely English friend said in her very English way “yes, sometimes you just need to be with your people”.

Where were my people? The day before my mother had set up a time to Skype. A close family friend along with my sister and brother in law were coming over for dinner and they were all staying the night at our family home. As each of their faces popped up on the screen G and I waved and smiled. Without being told we knew exactly where they’d parked their cars, which dining chairs they sat in and the stories they told. When they talked about dinner we could taste the salt on Mum’s crackling and see the old floral gravy jug making it’s way around the table.

I still have a bedroom at my parents house, it’s contents vary from my 1981 diary which speaks of the travesty of Vicki’s Coombs 13th birthday, to the well loved nostalgic teenage t-shirts. Hanging in the closet are the bridesmaids dresses from the 90’s and underneath them is G’s mini cellar that he’s been adding to over the past 12 years.

It was the end of the night for them when the skype chat began so everyone had had a few drinks. When G asked my brother in law what was in his glass he joked in a bad Scottish accent “it’s your wine brother, we’re making our way through it”,  everyone laughed. When my Dad made his way to the wobbly computer chair, he had that grin. It’s the I’ve had a few beers at bowls/football/golf and I’m trying to look like I haven’t grin. He was having a good night. G went off to check on the travelers while Dad and I kept talking. “How was the writing? Have you spoken to the publisher again?” “Well love, if I win lotto tomorrow I promise I’ll buy the first 100,000 copies”. Only a father can say that and sound like he really means it.

A few months ago a fellow Aussie expat had told me about her family in Melbourne and how they didn’t really quite know what her or her husband did for a living. They’d started 10 years ago with jobs in Singapore that had changed and evolved. She said they never asked for the finer details and she never offered the information. I knew what she meant, it wasn’t said with malice.

I thought back to a few years earlier, in my home town supermarket, standing next to my sister as she told someone that G sold drill bits. I turned to look at her like she was a confused alien. G works in Marketing and Planning for a Natural Gas company, with an Economics degree and a background in software, I was surprised with her career assessment.  My sister and I had giggled hysterically all the way to the car as she shook her head saying “I really thought he sold drill bits?” I said “Why did you think they sent him to Stanford?” she giggled some more and said “I just thought he must have been really good at it!

That’s the thing with “your people”. They might not know exactly what you do, but most of the time they know exactly who you are. That’s how they push your buttons.

This Christmas some of us will suffer through “our people”, watching the same old same old. Our people will frustrate us with their familiarities and personal assessments. It will drive you insane when the hilarious story of getting your skirt caught in your bike chain and having to run home in your knickers is raised yet AGAIN, or the unspoken carrot cutting incident of 2002 when the carrots were meant to be Julienne not Baton and someone told someone else exactly where they could put their carrots before storming out of the house.

Those of us, who cannot be with “our people”, for whatever reason, whether its distance, financial or a painful loss will think of “our people” often during the day. As much as we’ll be making new memories with new people and smiling with children and chocolate fountains we’ll still be thinking of “our people” and wishing we were together.

Want to get your expat life sorted?

At the end of our expat experience we want to arrive home with a juicy bank account and a heart full of fantastic travel memories.

How do you not blow your expat dough?

We're finding the best insurance deals, bank accounts, expat investments, money transfers, travel deals, housing, schooling, and relocation deals.

No kickbacks, affiliations or hidden advertising. Just expats looking for independent expat advice. We won't spam you but we will send you a weekly cheat sheet on what we've learnt that week.

Powered by ConvertKit
  • Average Girl

    I am not even going to attempt to say something that will make you feel better, because some times no words of consolation will do it for you when you just want to be home. I do hope that your holidays bring you so much joy, even if you are not “with your people”…. *hugs*

  • Sunday

    I am you a very Merry Christmas. I know how hard it is to not be able to be with your family during the holidays.

  • 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

    Thank you. I feel better already. It was a rather self indulgent post and I know I have no right to be sad, there are people out there going through much much worse eg the loss of a loved one. It just hit me this week that I was feeling a long way from home. I know our day will be fab, the children are all beyond excited, next year I’ll be better prepared whatever happens. Homesickness is a funny thing isn’t it?!

  • Deidre

    Well, I’ll be spending Christmas in Australia. This is only my third christmas away from my family, I thought it’d get easier the more times I’ve done it. But it doesn’t. I definitely miss my people and totally relate to your post.

  • brismod

    I hope you will be with your “people” again soon. No doubt they miss you too. xx

  • Naturally Carol

    Ride the wave..the intensity of it will ease…I promise. I miss my family too, sometimes more than others and have been in Australia while they are in NZ for 32 years now. My dad is a bit like yours…he recently became a follower on my newish blog…and my sister’s…just to support us! My mum made him print out 15 pages to show her friends..’cos she doesn’t have anything to do with computers…but loves us too! They’re good people…my people!

  • Toni

    Chick, it’s not self-indulgent. If you miss them, you miss them; whether they’re gone forever or on the other side of the world. Especially at Christmas.
    P.S. still snorting at ‘drill bits’.

  • Sandra

    It’s been my experience that you’ll think about your “people” throughout the day. But dessert eases some of the heartache.

  • Karen

    Just as I checked my blog subscriptions, I was thinking to myself “I feel like I am going to cry, but I can’t put my finger on why”.
    My family is quite broken. Broken in ways we don’t speak of. We don’t speak about much at all. But this year, all of my family will be together, and I am really looking forward to it. They are my people, and though we don’t speak much about anything in particular, together we all just fit.
    Thank you for beautifully summing up of all the things that I love about family. What a great writing piece. I will think of you as we pass around my mum’s gravy jug. x

  • Coach’s Better Half

    I am with my people as it just worked out for us to go to the U.S. I do feel for you but it is funny how you do miss “home”…as in Doha after you arrive. Plus no one seems to understand why we are there in the first place!!
    Have a wonderful holiday!

  • bigwords is…

    We miss you too and wish we were spending xmas with you xx

  • Kymmie

    I read this and understand every bit the way you are feeling. We lived in Papua New Guinea for four years and it was HARD not to be with our family during those family times (yes, even if they drive us bananas!) But still… I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas. Just you, your beagle, 20 suitcases and kids… xx

  • Rick M

    Oh, how I understand this feeling. Love your work – and I realised I’ve been a bad blog follower and haven’t told you this. Consider my errant ways henceforth corrected!

  • Smudgeblurr

    What a beautiful post. I consider myself very lucky to be spending the holidays with “my people” – even more so after reading your blog!
    I also don’t think you are being self indulgent – hope you can arrange a trip home soon (once the madness of xmas airfares is over)

  • Sarah

    Yeah, it can be a bummer being away from home at Christmas. I’ve had some ghastly Christmasses away from home but sometimes you have no choice. Doesn’t mean you have to be chipper about missing your folks though.

    I hope you have a jolly time anyway.

  • Nicola

    What a touching post, its not at all self indulgent, I see it more as a tribute to the wonderful family love that you and ‘your people’ all share, something that is definitely worth writing about. I hope you, G and the Little Travelers have a fun Christmas day – make sure and have plenty fizz on hand and lots of seats round the webcam ;o) Nx

  • expatriatelife

    Congratulations, you’re human. 🙂 It would be a bit unnatural not to have a pang of homesickness at this time of year. For us the pangs started happening too often and that is why we’ve decided to stick with repatriation . . . for now.

  • Kath Lockett

    Well we’ve decided, after seventeen years of togetherness, to completely avoid my husband’s ‘people’. After all this time we’ve realised that we need fun, love and support; not laziness, bitterness and blame.

    And we couldn’t feel more relieved!

  • JANE

    What a moving post, Kirsty. Thought-provoking, too. But I get it, I really do. Hang in there, mate. You have your own little traditions to start with your travellers. I’m looking forward to hearing how you celebrate, Doha-style! J x

  • Blocks and Knocks

    Because I love your blog so much, I have nominated you for the stylish award! Step over here to accept:

    I was honored to receive this and I hope you are too. And thankyou for a little peak into your wonderful world

  • Bronnie and family

    Oh I’ve spent many Christmasses apart over the years away from loved ones. It can be hard, as you say, but it sounds like you’ve found a way to include your closest friends and family as much as possible. Wishing you all the happiness of the season…xo

  • toushka

    what a beautiful post. We went home for Christmas last year and hated it! But there is still that sense of wanting to be with your people – even when they drive you crazy, so I really related to this post. and cried a bit too. I’m still glad that I’m not going home for xmas this year though. At least I can turn skype off when it starts telling those stories. lol.

  • Louisa

    Homesickness is the very strangest thing. I sometimes miss everyone back home so much it hurts and yet I wouldn’t change where we are or what we are doing for the world. I had a real sense of dread about Christmas and being away from “our people” but actually we had a wonderful day! I hope that your Christmas Day was happy and fun 🙂

  • Coach’s Better Half

    I am with my people as it just worked out for us to go to the U.S. I do feel for you but it is funny how you do miss “home”…as in Doha after you arrive. Plus no one seems to understand why we are there in the first place!!
    Have a wonderful holiday!