And now we enter the season when I knew it would be hardest to be away from home: the holidays.

Aubrey and Scott are in California with their Oregon aunt and uncle and cousins, and Mom and Dad had one of their grandsons and his wife and kids with them. They all sent or posted photos of the festivities and family gathered together, and my heart ached.

I suppose we’ll get used to being away from family during the holidays, but I’m not sure. The holidays are so important to us, as family. I suspect that we’re going to have to build our vacations around getting home for the holidays. Now, I’m wishing we were going to Santa Barbara for Christmas. We’d thought about it, but felt like we should stay here and experience Christmas overseas the first year. And the fact is, Tom is the new guy, so he had to stay around anyway, so we really had no choice. Thank God the kids are coming! We’ll get to see Mom and Dad and Lois in January.

So far, I don’t see much about Christmas here in Sao Paulo, other than really over-the-top decorations at the malls (complete with Santas in red suits and fallen snow…in the tropics), and the usual commercialism. But that isn’t what I’m looking for: we’d like to find music, and festivities, and something other than shopping-centered celebration.

Our local guidebook has nothing listed about Christmas festivities in the city, but I’ve put a call out on the International Newcomers Club site; I’m sure I’ll get good response from the folks there, and find out more about what’s happening here in this city of 14 million. I’m sure there will be some great activities…I just have to find them.

I’ve especially been looking for a place to go for Christmas Midnight Mass. I had thought we could go to the Benedictine Monastery, but Tom says it won’t be safe to be out at that time of night, early morning, driving downtown…

I can’t imagine Christmas Eve without Midnight Mass.  Perhaps the parish a few miles away will have a Mass, though our Portuguese-language instructor said that most Brazilians don’t go to Midnight Mass; if they want Mass, they watch the Papal Mass from the Vatican on TV that night. I don’t think that will work for us.

So, the search continues as we enter this, our first holiday season overseas. There will be hours spent on the phone and Skype, I’m sure, as we reach out to friends and family to unite at Christmas.

Meanwhile, it’s time to investigate how to make homemade eggnog! It certainly isn’t Christmas without eggnog!