5 Ways to Create Your Own Holiday Traditions as an ESL Learner and Ex-Pat in Houston

Updated: Nov 12, 2019

Ex-Pat in Houston

I am not a Texas native. I was born and raised in Missouri, and I’ve always felt a little like a fish out of water here in Texas. But over the years, I’ve learned the importance of putting down roots and starting some traditions of my own. This is especially important for me now that I have a daughter. The holidays are a great time to start traditions that can help you feel more at home here in Houston by making you feel like a part of the community.

Here are some December traditions I have started or plan to explore this year.

1. The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker is a quintessential Christmastime story. My mom used to take me to the Kansas City Ballet’s version of this tale when I was a kid. So, two years ago, I began the tradition with my own daughter. There are a number of different theaters that put on this performance. I can personally recommend the Bay Area Houston Ballet and Theater performance at UHCL. It's so good that even little ones don't fuss too much in their seats!

2. Christmas Fun Run

fun run

Are there any other runners out there? I know at least a couple of my readers are runners, so they might appreciate this suggestion. Houston offers several 5K holiday runs, and I know from personal experience that they are a fun way to celebrate the holiday! For a full list of runs that you can participate in, check out this race calendar. If you decide to do one, let me know, and I might join you!

3. Star of Hope

The holidays are a time to be grateful for what we have. Why not share share a little of your abundance by volunteering your time over the holidays? Houston has a large contingency of homeless people who need help each day. The Star of Hope is a non-profit organization that needs volunteers to serve hot meals all year round. You can make volunteering a tradition!

4. Ice Skating at the Galleria

Have you ever tried ice skating? It totally makes me feel like a little kid again. Ice skating at the Galleria in Houston is a fun activity for the whole family, and a light-hearted tradition to incorporate into your December plans. If you’re afraid to skate, it’s a great place to go just to “people watch” —there are some great skaters who use the rink to practice.

5. Handel’s Messiah


Growing up I played the viola in my school’s orchestra, and every year at Christmas, we played the famous symphony, Handel’s Messiah, in conjunction with the high school choir. Even though we made our share of mistakes, the music was still magnificent simply due to the essence of the songs.

So, it comes as no surprise that this musical story holds a very special place in my heart. And, the amazing Houston Symphony is presenting it this month. The music is incredible, and it would make an inspiring way to celebrate the month of December.

Or, Create Your Own Tradition...

Whatever you do, I believe that it’s important to commemorate the end of the year in some way. In other words, create your own tradition. Do something that is meaningful to you here in Houston, and it might become an activity that will grow from year to year, or even one that you can take back home with you when the time comes.

I would love to hear about some holiday/end-of-the-year traditions that you have started. Let’s be an inspiration for one another to be a part of this diverse and beautiful city.

#Houstonexpat #ESLexpat #holidayeventsHouston

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