I decided that I needed to write this post after our Christmas tree literally came crashing down in our living room this afternoon. Ornaments shattered in hundreds of pieces on our floor. I was heartbroken. I collect ornaments from friends, family, and from our travels. They're really sentimental to me and now a quarter of them were in pieces on our floor, irreplaceable. Our tree falling over was the icing on the cake after Christmas this year.
I feel like I need to write this post because I usually post all of the amazing and happy things about living abroad, but it's not always butterflies and rainbows. I want to post the hard stuff too, the truth.
Christmas this year was extremely hard. Living overseas has many positives that usually outweigh the negatives. When the holidays roll around, I feel lonely and homesick. If you know anything about me, I absolutely LOVE everything Christmas. For me, it's the "magic" of the holiday, listening to Christmas music, baking cookies, the smell of the pine tree in the air, traditions that have been made since I was very little year after year with my family.
Moving overseas changed everything. The first year living abroad, we were in Thailand with Kurt's parents. I remember Skyping my family and afterward, I was a crying mess. I kept telling myself, "I am in Thailand, what do I have to complain about?! Snap out of it!"
The second year, we were in Cambodia with Kurt's parents. I was pregnant with Sawyer and again, I Skyped my family, this time to announce the big pregnancy news. Same story different year, I'm a bawling mess afterward.
Last year, we went back to Wisconsin for Christmas and also flew to Canada after for my dad's wedding (all in about two weeks). It was honestly a whirl- wind and pretty crazy. Sawyer was only five months old and he was jet lagged and we were jet lagged. Our thoughts were something along the lines of, "What were we thinking coming back for Christmas?!? We are insane. We are NEVER doing this again!"
Fast forward to this year. We put our tree up the second week of November since I knew we'd be traveling to Bali early the next month. I wanted to make Christmas magical for Sawyer. I wanted to create traditions like I had growing up. I baked cookies, we listened to Christmas music, I put Sawyer in Christmas footie PJs. I even wore my reindeer antlers and Christmas sweater to school and helped plan a staff holiday potluck.
Then, I blinked and it was Christmas...in Bali. Except, it didn't feel like Christmas. My grandma had just passed away, we were at a new hotel that was giving me an asthma attack from all of the dust, and we had lost over half of our clothes (we left them at the previous hotel). I was crabby. There was no tree, no presents, no snow, no magic. To make matters worse, the internet was so slow it was pratically unusable, so that meant no Skyping my family. Here I am in Bali, on Christmas and my family is thousands of miles away, without me. I scroll through Instagram and Facebook (by the way...worst idea ever when you're feeling homesick) and I am jealous. I am jealous of everyone surrounded by their big families, Christmas trees, presents, and food. I cried, and then I cried again. I hate feeling lonely on Christmas. I shouldn't feel lonely, I mean I have Kurt and Sawyer. My dad and his wife were in Bali and we were also with our best friends. But I still couldn't help but feel lonely. Our Christmas day was an ordinary day. We ended up having a nice, low-key dinner with our friends, so our day ended on a positive note.
Christmas Bali style
Lennon and Sawyer munching on Christmas corn
Only family picture I took on Christmas
I am slowly discovering that we need to find a happy balance of creating our own special traditions as a small family unit, when we can't go back to the states and also keep traditions that are important to me, even if that means shelling out $$$ to travel back to Wisconsin during Christmas time and enduring jet lag. Side note: Kurt grew up overseas, so traveling during the holidays with his parents is/was a totally normal Christmas tradition for him :)
Before we know it, Sawyer is going to grow up right before our eyes and so will Rosalie. I want them to experience holidays with extended family, even if it is a bit chaotic. I want them to see houses decorated with colorful lights, bake cookies for Santa, feel snow crunch beneath their feet, smell a REAL pine tree, and wake up super early on Christmas morning to see what Santa left under the tree. It's important to me that they have those memories too in addition to all of the amazing travel memories.
Here's to hoping that next year's Christmas will be the best Christmas yet...as a family of four (crazy!)