Why can’t I find you?
It’s Christmas Day 2015. I’m sitting in a hostel in El Calafate, Argentina. Instead of hearing Christmas music and the sounds of family, I can hear the lady who works at reception speaking in Spanish to some of the guests and the same U2 song that has been on repeat for days. Instead of eating delicious appetizers with my family or surf and turf with my in-laws, I ate a frozen soy burger. Instead of feeling cozy with a cup of coffee or glass of wine starring at a beautiful Christmas tree, I’m cold and looking out to a dreary, rainy day (hence the two posts in one day). And lastly instead of spending quality time with family, I’m wondering who my new dorm mate will be today. Homesickness has officially set in. The holidays have this inexplicable quality in making you feel more lonely or nostalgic than you already may.
Christmas Eve spread at my parents house.
Homesickness has been looming over my head for the past couple of weeks. I was going along feeling great for the first two months in Colombia. Yes of course I missed my friends, family and cats but I wasn’t yet tuned into the comforts of home or ordinary life that I would pine for later. Shortly after we arrived in Argentina, I realized it was December. In Patagonia at least (I can’t speak for the rest of the country) you’d almost have no idea the holidays are nearing. The weather is warm and there are hardly any decorations, music, or trees that would signify the upcoming holiday. No one told me to have a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, in Spanish or in English unless I would say it first. Not one Christmas movie has been watched.
The extent of the Christmas decor around here.
Once I came to the realization that it was December, just mere weeks and days away from Dan’s birthday, my birthday, Christmas Eve and Day, and then New Year’s Eve, I started to reminisce about the past. I started to really wish our friends would be present for both Dan’s birthday and my birthday when I thought back to all the fun times we had together in previous years. I then started to think about Christmas and what a special time it has always been in my family and the warm feelings it evokes in me. I started to miss my Grandma Rose who passed away about 5 years ago who absolutely loved Christmas, and how my Mom always does such a great job following in her footsteps to make it a wonderful time for everyone. Yeah, the homesickness started to dig real deep! I even started getting preemptive FOMO (fear of missing out) for upcoming New Year’s Eve when I know all of our friends will be together without us.
See why I need my friends on my birthday?!
So as you can tell, I’ve been feeling down and somewhat sorry for myself these past couple of days for missing out on such an important time of the year even though I know, I CHOOSE THIS. In no way do I regret the decision to leave but I wish so badly that I could just transport home for a week and then come back to Argentina in order to pick up where I left off. I’m sincerely hoping that these feelings will start to fade once the holidays are over because I know what depressing months January, February and even March can be in the midwest. I’ve been attempting to help my mood and homesickness by drinking way too much wine, asking my parents and in-laws to send pictures, and constantly looking at others happily posting pictures on Facebook and Instagram. Sadly to say it hasn’t been helping.
Miss seeing our cats on Christmas!
As opposed to wallowing in more self pity, I decided to do something productive and write about it. Although I don’t feel fully cured, I do feel better as writing this post has helped me recognize some positive aspects of my situation and get it all out there. I’m trying to think about it now in a different light.
Traditions are important to me. Missing Christmas, birthdays and NYE completely, have been difficult for me because I love the tradition of them. I love knowing that on our birthdays and NYE that we will have a great, memorable time with our friends. As for Christmas, I love the feeling, the food, and the time with my family and Dan’s family. Dan and I already have plans in our heads for making and keeping more, unforgettable traditions with our friends and family when we return.
Blake and I will always get excited to open our stockings, even as adults.
Taking a step away from my previous life has definitely made me appreciate and realize what really matters to me. I know that sounds cliche and something everyone says when they travel but it’s just so true! The first time Dan and I left the country together in 2009 to spend a few months in Nepal we wrote a list of all the things we missed back home. Salad, beer, comfortable beds, hot showers, sitting toilets, etc. made that list. Although those are completely valid things to miss when you’ve been away, a more mature version of myself 7 years later is feeling more homesick for the people and our memories that honestly, make life worth living.
I feel fortunate that I have the family, friends, and freedom of tradition to feel so homesick for. I think if I came over here for months on end and never missed anything about home, something would be terribly wrong and I would have A LOT of changes to make. It makes me feel reaffirmed that I made the right choices in the people I surround myself with because of how much I miss them and reminisce about our times together. Never again will I take another significant holiday or time with these people for granted.
Even if we go to Kingston Mines for Dan’s next 10 birthdays.
Weird that it takes moving across the world, holidays, and then hardcore homesickness to pull forth feelings of gratitude and self awareness. My first set of holidays away from home has been tough and it is painful not to be with these people right now. However, I’m sure this is where I need to be in order to grow, make my life better, and trust that what is coming will be better than what is gone.
Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad to all of my friends and family that Dan and I can’t be with today!
My world is changing, I’m rearranging, does that mean Christmas changes too?