19 Dec The Joys of Eating Abroad at Christmas
The holidays are always exciting for me. Not for any made-up Hallmark reason, but because I have the chance to eat whatever I want and get together with family to laugh and have fun. Having lived in a couple of different places growing up, I’ve made it a point to stick close to home for the holidays as an adult. We talk about the state of the world over dinner, listen to music, and tell funny stories that start with, “Remember that time…”
But as much as I enjoy the festivities, planning them can be a headache. Every holiday my family asks the same question: “Who’s cooking?” which can quickly turn into a game of “not it.” Everybody wants to eat, but few of us are willing (or able) to take on the responsibility.
That’s why, one year, I decided that my family would have to figure it out without me. Not only did I want a truly responsibility-free holiday season, but holding the holiday hot potato can tie your hands up from other things – like my husband’s birthday, which is the day after Christmas. So, that year, I not only dropped it, but I got me and my husband far away from the potato patch, booking a flight to spend Christmas in Jamaica.
The Benefits of Traveling Over the Holidays
I felt a bit guilty at first, but all of that melted away as soon as we got off the plane. One thing I was looking forward to most about the trip was the food, and it did not disappoint. We hit up the pool and a beachside grill, indulging in all the Jamaican food we could eat. We even told some of the resort staff that we had never eaten conch before, and they cooked us a special meal of conch and breadfruit. We were hooked on conch after that. Oh, and the lobster tails were to die for.
It’s not a cuisine us Americans usually associate with the holidays, but it matched the relaxed, island vibes I wanted to feel for the holidays.
It wasn’t just the food (and me not having to cook a lick of it) that made the trip worth it, though. It was the opportunity to see what was possible when it comes to creating the holiday experience we want. We struck up so many inspiring, eye-opening conversations at the poolside bar, meeting Black families who have made a tradition out of traveling every year for Christmas. A woman shared that she and her three sisters brought their mother to Montego Bay every year to celebrate the holiday, and you could tell from her face that there were no regrets about leaving the holiday responsibilities behind.
I also assumed that being in a tropical location for the holidays would mean us losing out on the festive vibe of the season. But I couldn’t have been more wrong! I was not expecting all of the Christmas decorations, the fun games, and most memorably, the incredible Christmas feast. Whoever was cooking was certainly in the Christmas spirit that year. They put both feet into that meal!
One of my husband and my’s love languages is receiving gifts – especially the gift of travel. Now I am totally fine not having anything to unwrap on special occasions as long as there is a flight involved. I learned that booking early really is key when traveling for the holidays, but that trip really opened up more possibilities for us. I never thought of traveling for Christmas, and while I will miss all the attempts to make a family TikTok video, traveling is something we will consider every year.
Not able to hop a flight for the holidays but still want to shake up the typical Christmas dinner? Check out one of these Black-owned Nigerian, Ghanaian, Caribbean, Ethiopian, Mediterranean, and Latin restaurants near you!
Just don’t feel like cooking? There’s something in our national directory for you too.
Takera Gholson is a Black food and travel blogger based in Washington, D.C. Takera has worked with over forty restaurants, chefs, and hotels providing food photography and social media marketing. She is passionate about advocating for small businesses, specifically those owned by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Takera uses her blog platform, Flights and Foods, to share stories of industry food folks and expose her audience to food and cultures from around the world.