Spend my Christ­mas abroad!

Lisa John­son and her fam­ily have a new fes­tive tra­di­tion that they love

Woman (UK) - - Contents -

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!

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