Spend my Christmas abroad!
Lisa Johnson and her family have a new festive tradition that they love
Basking in the hot sun, I open my eyes and can’t quite believe where I am. It’s Christmas Day and instead of opening presents, tending to dozens of guests and stressing over the dinner, I’m sunbathing on a yacht in Dubai, surrounded by a clear, turquoise sea. Not your typical Christmas, I know, but it’s my idea of festive heaven and one I’ll never give up.
I haven’t always spent Christmas in the sun. For years, it was spent at home in Surrey, where I hosted dinner for at least 10 family members. Combined with running my own coaching business, to say the months leading up to Christmas were stressful is an understatement. But it was important for me that my twin sons Finnian and Albert had a traditional family Christmas – one with dozens of presents beneath the sparkly Christmas tree.
But in 2012, when the boys were one, I split with their father. While I had them for that first Christmas and followed my usual festive traditions of getting up early to start cooking the turkey and setting the dinner table, in 2013, it was their turn to spend the festivities with their dad.
By now I was with my partner Sam, then 42, and as we contemplated a Christmas alone, I came up with an idea. ‘Why don’t we go away and spend it somewhere hot?’ I suggested. I’d never spent a Christmas abroad but the thought of strolling on the beach instead of snuggling up drinking mulled wine really appealed to me. It was my first Christmas without the boys and I thought a holiday would be a good distraction.
So Sam and I booked a trip to Egypt and as we stepped off the plane and the desert heat hit my face, I knew we’d made the right decision. Yes, it was strange sunbathing around a pool on Christmas Day and eating at the all-inclusive buffet, instead of tucking into a turkey lunch, but it was so lovely to just relax and not have any of the stresses that Christmas can bring. Instead of scoffing tins of sweets in the evening and watching festive films, Sam and I drank cocktails at the bar and watched the hotel entertainment. It was a different take on Christmas but we loved it and decided to do it again the next year!
In 2016, we took the boys to Dubai and, just like us, they loved spending it in the sun. They played in the pool on Christmas Day and they loved tucking into all the local delicacies on offer at the hotel in the evenings.
The only downside is that we had limited space in our suitcases, so we only opened one gift each, with the promise of the rest on our return.
The following year, in 2017, while the boys spent the day with their dad, Sam and I were back in Dubai. Of course, we called the boys constantly.
I know there are a lot of people who might not think spending Christmas abroad is for them, but for me and my family, Christmas is about tradition – and this happens to be our new one!
Lisa’s business coaching company is Just Own This, visit justownthis.com.
‘it was so lovely to just relax’
lisa with her partner and sons in Dubai the boys love their new tradition!