I hope the ever present “Nobody” (the boyz at Langley) back east doesn’t get all excited about this blog entry and send out the “ground troops”. For me, “HQ” is my parents house, and my identity is none of their business.

I have really been enjoying the exploration of my TCK experience, through blogging. It has really relieved many pressures, and has been very healing for me. Not only is all my “chronic pain” suddenly and mysteriously “gone” but I feel much better in general and I have really enjoyed corresponding with many wonderful people, who share my TCK experience, in some way, and who are genuinely interested in it.

It is doubly wonderful, and an added blessing that for Christmas this year, I got the best Christmas present, ever: my identity. It is such a relief to know all this and to finally let go of the need to keep all these secrets, and toxic feelings bottled up inside.

My good friend Sara asked me by email: “….I’m curious, having moved around so much, how did your family celebrate Christmas? Were there some things you did the same every year? Or did you just go with whatever celebrations were (or weren’t) going on in whatever country you were in?”

Yes, Sara…there IS a Santa Claus. Mary, a wonderful lady in Marrakesh, wrote about how expatriate children believe in Santa much longer than their countrybound counterparts. You can see her excellent article here.


I believed in Santa until I was 12. And one of my nicer secrets is, I still do!

Here are some other funny things about Christmas at “CIA HQ”:

1. We always have Pillsbury Orange Cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. This started in the 70’s when we had all our groceries flown in by helicopter to Behshahr, and they just showed up in the food bags. We didn’t have a “px” or access to food stores so our groceries were delivered by helicopter every 2 weeks. Anyway, somehow they ended up in the order. My mom did not order them. We fell in love with them and have been gobbling them every year, since.

2. We are allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve. This is to prevent curious little minds from being so restless that they can’t sleep. It never worked but we did it anyway.

3. Every year, we pull out all the Christmas decorations and wave my older brother’s diapers around the room. (They’re clean!) This is what our Christmas ornaments have been wrapped in for all of my 43 years. No wonder my brother doesn’ t come over for Christmas anymore.

4. For dinner on Christmas Eve: we have Standard Dinner #1 with guests: Fondue (Beef/filet mignon), re-stuffed potatoes, asparagus or green beans, Ceasar salad.

5. On Christmas Day: We have Standard Dinner #2 , just family: Ham with cherry glazing, spoonbread, par-boiled potatoes with parsley/time/rosemary, and Greek cucumber salad. This started in the 70’s also when we got stuck in a Mediterranean country during an “uprising”. This was what the hotel staff served us, because it was all they could manage what with all the shooting and looting going on. They were trying to give us “Virginia ham” because we were American and they had a copy of Julia Child’s cookbook. We have never forgotten their kindness. And all was well – my brother and I were greatly entertained by “watching the war” through the barred basement windows. 😉

6. Since we have really absorbed our love of good food, wine and conversation from our many European travels, and friends from other countries, we are always accused by local Americans of “drinking too much, eating too much, and talking too much”. This is very standard in my family. If someone isn’t tipsy when they leave, well this is because they are either tee-totallers, or just stuck up. It’s fine and dandy with us if others don’t want to drink any wine. We will graciously never say a word, or pressure them, and they will always be offered at least 6-10 alternatives. No one is judged. But we refuse to let anyone make us feel guilty for our enjoyment and merriment. It’s CHRISTMAS!!! Also, my parents do not smoke, but guests are always provided with cigarettes so that no one runs out during a party and thinks they have to “drive to get some”. No one gets behind the wheel of a car for any reason if they have been drinking. This is being a good host/hostess.

7. The rule in our house has always been, “When in Rome….” We are always happy to blend in with our neighbors and what they want to do for Christmas. But here in America, this is a very individual thing and considered “private”. So unless we are in another country, at Christmas, we do as the Americans do and “mind our own business.” Sad but true, that this is now a “tradition”. But we always have an empty place setting for anyone who happens to “stop by”. And it’s funny: it happens every year. At least one person, and sometimes as many as 2 or 3 show up. And they know they are always welcome. And they are usually (gasp) foriegners! 🙂 I love seeing the suspicious looks from my neighbors. They know there’s somethin’ funny goin’ on over at the Neeley house….”….there’s always a bunch of FOREIGNERS in and out, in and out…ain’t natural, ya know???….”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks everyone!!!

    Suzy, your dad must be on Santa’s “payroll” as a helper! 😀

    Nioucha, thanks so much…I really appreciate it. I am almost one month now, and NO PAIN! THE pain really is gone and I feel terrific. I had a terrific holiday and for the first time in years I feel good about everything. I mean, I wasn’t a mess the entire time all this time but there have been many rough spots. I have great hope for my future, but ….and this is huge…I suddenly cant find my passport. Now what kind of TCK misplaces their passport??? LOL

  2. Anonymous says:

    I forgot the spelling ones like:
    programme = program
    centre = center