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Americans abroad celebrate holidays by tweaking tradition

In our global world, you can easily buy a Thanksgiving turkey for roasting in Dubai or Beijing or Tokyo. You can shop for Christmas trees in Bangkok, where stores play Christmas carols throughout December, a constant reminder that Santa Claus can come to town even when you're 8,000 miles from home.

And yet, if you're an American family living overseas, the availability of these holiday touchstones doesn't change the fact that you're not really home for the holidays.

November and December bring a bittersweet mashup of holiday cheer and homesickness.

Some families do fly back to the U.S. for the holidays. But that can be expensive and challenging, especially with...