Giving Thanks in Spain: Part II

Every week I typically have a small idea of what I want to write about and this week was no different. However, I wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted to approach the topic of holidays abroad. Seeing as I have only been through two major holidays since I have been here, as you read, keep that in mind. The best, “worst to be away for,” holiday is yet to come.

Throughout high school, I always knew I wanted to go away for college and a lot of my friends that surrounded me felt the same way…we wanted out. It wasn’t that we were trying to run; it was that we wanted something different, we wanted to leave(we were 17 and 18 years old, the world was at our fingertips or our parents wallets really). Flash forward a few years to college, where I did go away from home and I finally realized that I actually wanted to be close to my family, I missed them (that 6 ½ drive will get tiresome sometimes). College taught me what I didn’t realize in high school…the importance of relationships, the importance of being present and the importance of home. So why did I still decide to leave?

Regardless of what I did learn in college however,  when I decided I wanted to move abroad, I didn’t think about the holidays. I didn’t think of the birthdays. I didn’t think about the graduations. I didn’t think about what I was missing, I didn’t think about it as leaving. All I thought about was going. Graduating from college brought a lot of excitement and yes, some tears, but the truth is, I was unattached to a boyfriend, my friends were all starting their lives in different places, I went to college in Missouri but my family wasn’t there, Indiana was were my family was, but I didn’t know the state at all, where else could I go?  I knew what I valued, but I didn’t know where to find it, so I left.

But what about the holidays? What about everything I learned in college about the importance of relationships? What about wanting to be near family? …It’s still there. And to be honest, it makes this time of my life hard. I wish I could say that it’s easy, but if you are sappy and love the holidays as much as I do, you would know that’s a lie. Halloween was hard, Thanksgiving was harder, and thankfully for Christmas, my family is coming to Spain #prayfortheschrades, so I am hoping it isn’t the hardest #tbd

In true no pasa nada blog fashion though, I always believe there is a positive in everything. And as much as I can say that it was hard to have Thanksgiving without my mom’s famous corn casserole, my brothers’ witty jokes and my dads infamous cackle, I can also say that I made new memories, I made new friends, and I still felt the holiday spirit.

This Thanksgiving as I sat around a filled table with thirteen Americans and Spaniards (my second Thanksgiving feast by the way, my first was equally as amazing it just wasn’t until the second that I realized everything…and yes, the pants are fitting a little tight, it’s fine), listening to live music from my new friends, snuggled into a hidden limestone covered room, with the best wine and tons of food, I felt something stronger…even deeper than just happiness. I felt completely content. I missed my family, I missed the holidays back home, but in that moment I didn’t think about it, I was so content with where I was, I didn’t need anything else. I was with whom I needed to be with.

Now it isn’t like that feeling lasted forever, I have had moments since that night where homesickness washed over me and brought tears to my eyes while I was walking down the street or even teaching my students, but for the majority of the time I’m content here. I think a part of growing up is realizing that home is important, relationships are a must, and being present is a necessity, but those things can change their appearance. My life is changing, my family is expanding and my idea of the holidays is evolving. However what have stayed the same are the feelings, the emotions and the energy that surrounds the holidays…its ok if the pictures look different.

My advice to those who are going or who are leaving, with all the doubts and fears of both of those things, remember that change happens even if we don’t want it to, remember what is important to you can still be important to you even it looks different, and remember that life is what you make of it, you decide how you are going to react to something. Relationships, being in the moment, and home are what I value during the holidays and somehow all three still found me three thousand miles away.

And that is what I was most thankful for this year.

 

Un abrazo fuerte,

 

Makenna

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