Christmas Eve. I stand staring through tears in the refrigerated section at the grocery store, unsuccessfully willing the lump in my throat to go away. Weeks earlier, I started the hunt for frozen dough (Rhodes rolls to be exact) for our traditional Christmas roll. I looked in every Expat grocery store around to no avail. Time got away from me and now, at the last minute, decided to go with plan B. Same recipe only with Pillsbury biscuits (in the can). I know I’d seen those around. So, here I stand in the third store having a meltdown on Christmas Eve staring at twenty or so Pillsbury cans of…pizza dough. What??? I seriously considered if this may work. No, it won’t be the same. Nothing is the same. Yes, I was having my own little pity party right here in the middle of the grocery store.

Why was this bothering me so much? It’s just food, right? No. It was the culmination of all the traditions that we were giving up by being here in Singapore. No Target Pj’s to open on Christmas Eve. No Christmas china to use for our meals. Only one Christmas tree to decorate. No chimney for the stockings. It’s all the little things that we do for our children and as a family that have me in a this state of sadness.

I leave the store feeling defeated and pulled myself together to walk home. Thankfully, no one was home except for Bill who greeted me with, “Well, I have some bad news.” Instantly, I started sobbing. I croaked out, “I can’t take anymore bad news.” Of course, I’m sure he is thinking the worst. A death in the family, something dire has happened, etc. As he holds me in a bear hug, he asks what’s wrong. I can only imaging now how stupid I must have sounded as I unattractively sniffled out, “I couldn’t find the rolls.”

As he squeezes me tight, he reminds me that we have all we need for Christmas. Our family is together, healthy, and happy. Leave it to him to calmly put it in perspective for me. I love this man. I know he loves me, especially after all the snot, tears, and mascara I just left all over his shirt.

So, I’ve learned that traditions are important, but change is ok. There is always a plan C and new traditions to be made. The “expat breakdown” I’d read so much about is a real thing. It happened and now it’s over…I hope.

PS – If you are wondering what Bill’s bad news was…comment on the blog and I’ll tell you. 😉
Merry Christmas and Happy 2015!


  1. Tammy says:

    Oh, Kathy, I am sorry.. I so remember how hard the holidays were…I remember the expat meltdowns. That Bill is a keeper… Amen to the healthy, happy, and being together!

  2. Lynda cox says:

    all of us have missed you these holidays and we can understand or I can about the memories of being away from home most of my life and all the constant change! I know that lump in the throat and the tears!! I have lived in many foreign places but one thing I did learn, I tried to, wherever we were,was to make it our home!! The girls said when they became adults, always no matter where we lived I made it home! As Bill said, we had each other and were healthy but you can’t help missing all the traditions and family, friends and loved ones! The holidays are always the worst when you are away and can’t be with your family!! I was barely 18 and had never been away from home and it was devastating for me but through the hard times we learn to really cherish those good times!! We love you and miss you…. so glad we have this technology now! At least we can keep in contact!! It’s okay to have your meltdowns and tears but as years go by you will get stronger!! Love you, aunt Lynda. Have a very happy happy new year!!!❤️

    • Thanks Aunt Lynda. You’d think being in my 40’s I’d be a pillar of strength. That’s the way I always saw my mom ;). We miss you all, but look forward to seeing everyone this summer!

  3. Marilou Lewis says:

    I’m so sorry you had this melt down. The holidays are always hard for those in new places, change in familiar traditions, family members no longer with us, etc. I understand all too well. Have my own little melt downs but usually when no one is around. I know your life is different right now but you are with the ones you love the most. Find new traditions, just for your time in Singapore.

    After Chris died, one of the hardest things for me during the holidays was the stupid Christmas stockings. I loved them and had them forever. I could no longer hang them. How do you put up your kid’s stockings when one is no longer with you? How do you leave his off? My solution was to never hang them again. Each year I find I let go of a little more. It’s just too hard.

    Remember your time there is limited. You will be back in the good ole USA soon. Just enjoy your time there. Cherish your new and exciting experiences. One day you’ll look back, with fondness, and say…”Remember that Christmas I had a melt down over rolls? That’s right, rolls.”

    It’s been my experience that every time you think you have it “all together” is when God is going to show you, you don’t. I am sure Bill was comforting during your melt down. I know his hugs are special. Every time I see him, he always hugs me. It’s like getting a hug from Chris. They were both about the same size. It’s always bitter sweet.

    Your family is having a once in a lifetime experience. You (and the family) seem to be embracing it. Everyone is entitled to a melt down once in a while. We love and miss you all. Hang in there.

    Aunt M

    P.S. Order your Xmas PJ’s now, for next year (sending them to family here to keep) until you can pick them up when you come in this summer.

  4. Thanks Aunt M. It’s actually good for me to write this stuff down to realize just how silly I’m being. What seem like huge things in the grand scheme of things are really quite trivial. It’s people like you that amaze me with your strength. Love you.

  5. Tammy Butler says:

    Wow was this ridiculously sad for me to read this morning. I’m actually crying. Hoping Bill was being facetious about the bad news?

  6. Alicia says:

    Reading this made me cry, dangit! I can picture that whole thing happening and it makes me sad. I really missed you all at Christmas. I just keep rinsing myself that we will see you this summer and it’s going to be a blast.

    So…what was Bill’s bad news?

  7. Candace says:

    Aww. I can’t make Mexican food! And you already know that I had my meltdown before Halloween and during my wonderful kidney stone experience! You made it way longer than I did. I have a feeling I’ll have another one in early 2015 after this TX trip! Winter hasn’t even begun! In Montreal even after a foot of snow! Enjoy the warm weather, girl!! And know that we are all thinking of you and missing you! Love ya and praying for the best in 2015! I’m kicking 2014 to the curb!!

    • Thanks Candace. I will definitely take rain and heat over a Montreal winter! Enjoy the seasons 🙂 The one think I miss is drinking hot drinks (coffee, hot cocoa, etc.) without breaking into a sweat! Enjoy your family time and feel blessed to get two trips home a year!

  8. Sharon says:

    Thinking of you and your lovely family. Even after being here formore than half my life I still miss certain foods and get so sad when I cant find them here, so I totally understand. But family is what is important and the home you have made there is as filled with love as any where you live. Happy New Year to you all,

    • Sharon, if you need or want anything from Marks and Spencers let me know! We’ll be back in Phoenix in June! What foods are you missing? They may have that here too! I know you like some type of cheese cracker/chips?
      Happy New Year to your family as well. Hope Aidan is over the flu.

  9. Alyssa says:

    Ok.. I am sitting at the salon reading this while sitting under the dryer using my sleeve as kleenex… But then Alicia’s autocorrect got me lauging again! I would do the same thing if had to change so many things at one time. are so strong and I have so much admiration for you to embrace the new and try so hard to keep some of the traditions in place. You have an amazing family! We still miss you on New Years Eve! The kids were talking about how they wish summer would hurry and get here so they can see you! Hang in there.what do you need us to send for Easter?

    • Ok, totally jealous you are getting your hair done! Haven’t had mine cut or colored since we moved here. Pretty nervous about getting it colored, but am going to attempt it on Monday. You know it’s bad when your children notice the “line” in your hair. Yikes! You guys were also on our minds New Years eve. We played Billy’s new Clue game and a new card game (Bill and Donna taught us) called Hand and Foot. Made it to midnight and watched fireworks on tv. We brought our Easter baskets, so I think we are good. You are so sweet to offer! Still will be missing those stupid rolls to make the Caramel roll for Easter morning. Oh well. 🙂
      Happy New Year!

  10. Gina says:

    Big hugs! Your aunts are so right! And I love
    That your honey held you instead of laughing.
    It was a big deal at THAT moment because
    You’ve worked at ensuring traditions are brought
    With you. Lots of love coming over the wire to you 🙂

    • Thanks G. My wonderful family and friends help keep me grounded. On the bright side, because of the lack of some of these traditions our bank account wasn’t hit so hard! Love you!

  11. Susan McCracken says:

    Well, if it makes you feel the slightest bit better….I have a hard time finding the rolls here in Ahoskie. I can from time to time find them at one store. So let me know the “bad news”.

    • If my mom were in the same situation she would have made dough, made them into balls, froze them, and then made the caramel roll. Why can’t I be more like her? 🙂
      So, the bad news.
      Bill was unable to purchase the Lancome powder that I use here in Singapore. Not so bad…right? I’m just going with the natural look now 🙂

  12. Donna Dolny says:

    Kathy, I’m sooo sorry you were so upset and you had to hold that all in while we were there. That is so like you to be strong and brave so no one else is sad. Way to go my son to be there for your wife and support her like she has supported you. You guys are amazing! I knew something was going on but thought you would share when you wanted to. Now I need to know. Love you all soooo much!

    • I just felt awful that I couldn’t make what we ALWAYS have on Christmas morning. You guys were great about the french toast bake. Thanks for rolling with the punches. 🙂
      You already know the bad news…and it really wasn’t so bad. Bill wasn’t able to find the Lancome powder I use here in Singapore. I’ve been pulling off the natural look!
      Love and miss you guys!!!

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