I'm going to be completely transparent in this entry so this is the forewarning. Christmas was hard. Really hard.
I didn't think I had many expectations for Christmas, but I was proved wrong. I. love. Christmas. I love the songs that evoke the feeling/knowledge of being blessed, the Christmas lights that could almost give you a tan, the giving, the expressions of love, the comfort food prepared from scratch, the interactions between strangers, the hugs, the surprises, the community, and the excuse to dress up like Santa; but most of all I love being reminded (and seeing others reminded) of the miracle of Jesus. It was very nice to not have any of the commercialized build up of Christmas, to only think about the community and the meaning of the season...but that made it all the more difficult to be away from home...for the second time. On Christmas Eve I had dal bhat and rice pudding prepared by my hostel then hung out on the rooftop with fellow travelers. I wasn't present on that rooftop. I didn't want to talk about my trek or my plans for India. I wanted to be with my mom at church holding a candle and singing O Holy Night. On Christmas Day, after my freezing cold shower, I started the day at the immigration office figuring out it wasn't worth it to extend my visa to go on another trek, followed by Christmas shopping. At night I had dinner at a cafe (a panini sandwich) with my friend and then came back to my dorm and nursed my stomachache until I fell asleep. On the days surrounding Christmas I got to Skype with both of my parents, my sisters (minus Kelsey, Anna and Jenn) and chat with several other close friends. On Christmas Eve, in an effort to revive the spirit of giving, I gave silk scarves to the 5 girls in my dorm room. Similarly, on Christmas I distributed peppermint mentos (a candy cane substitute), toilet paper (a practical gift) and a Merry Christmas filled hug to everyone at my hostel (and chocolate wrapped in makeshift ribbons to the wonderful staff). It felt good to give simple presents to friends and complete strangers simply because it was Christmas.
On Christmas night I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't sleep. A few moments after I started listening to Bon Iver (which gsve me flashbacks of driving through the snow at home) I was overwhelmed by a heavy case of homesickness and couldn't hold back my tears. This is coming from a girl that has been described as a robot for not possessing normal human emotions; the last time I can remember my tear ducts being this active (or active at all, besides saying goodbye to my students) is when I first arrived in Japan, almost two years ago. Traveling isn't always glamorous, especially around the holidays. Although meeting new people every day is exciting, it has really worn on me. I'm tired of rattling off my basics every day and having to constantly say goodbye and then start over. I just want to skip all the surface crap and jump to something real (I've toyed with the idea of handing out my basics on a business card). I don't want to have to explain that my parents live in different states, my views on love or even that I only like taking baths; I want to be around someone that knows all that and still chooses to love me. I also want to be around people that I know. To be able to laugh at them for doing something that is "so them" and to be genuinely surprised and proud at them for facing a fear or shortcoming. Because...I understand. I want to cuddle with my sisters on the Eve of Christmas Eve, a decade old tradition, by the fireplace to give our smile and laugh muscles a break. Then, wake up and eat pancakes that are beautifully...imperfect (to put it nicely). I am lucky to miss people. I am lucky to have a family, both blood and not that I will always be connected to. I am lucky to love people so much.
In the end, Christmas was just another Tuesday where I felt lucky for the relationships I have and for Jesus showing me why love is important; I guess that is what Christmas is about.