Around Halloween it really began to sink in that I would be missing the holidays in the U.S. for the first time.
I was discussing with my roommate how to approach this because in some ways I would almost prefer to pretend they aren’t happening. Stick them in a box, deactivate my Facebook, delete instagram from my phone and move on.
But alas, I am not a grinch, and I love the holidays so I’ve decided to embrace them, and try to really put a special twist on them.
So, the morning of Thanksgiving dawned, and instead of heading off to Lake Quivera’s annual Gobble Wobble, I headed to school. After six classes and a short nap it was time to FEAST! I organized a dinner for the other ETAs in Taichung and our coordinator. We all went out for Indian food at one of my favorite restaurants here and I can honestly say it was an incredible time. I also learned through coordinating this that I am already my mother: I borderline threatened people to dress up, and I insisted everyone say one thing they were thankful for. Oh well, it was inevitable. Love ya mumsy.
Being away from home this year really forced me to practice being thankful. Thanksgiving is so highly associated with family for me that it was interesting to re frame the holiday, embracing the spirit of the holiday in spite of being without my fam.
A holiday which is grounded in being thankful is also particularly ironic at this time of being abroad. In orientation we were debriefed on what “culture shock” is. Essentially there are different phases everyone goes through while living abroad. Initially you feel like you are a tourist and ya love everything. Then right around month 3 or 4 you go into what some people have labeled the “rejection” stage. This is when things don’t feel so warm and fuzzy because the honeymoon has ended. It’s essentially a short depression. Some of the side effects are changes in sleep patterns, unexplained crying, and other SUPER fun emotions and behavior.
Overall, I would say I am dealing with this pretty well. For me the rejection phase has manifested itself in the form of sleep pattern changes: AKA I haven’t been sleeping. I have had sleep issues before so I originally thought it was perhaps just something like in the past. But this past week (right before Thanksgiving) I didn’t really sleep for four or five days in a row.
If you know anything about me, you know sleep is
precious sacred. Ya can’t mess with it. So by day 5 of not sleeping I was sort of losing it and my gracious coordinator accompanied me to a psychiatrist who prescribed some blessed sleeping pills. After Thanksgiving and one day of work on Friday I was so grateful for a night “in” and SO ready to pop one of those pills. I did and BOY DID I SLEEP WELL!!!!
But alas my immune system couldn’t hold out any longer and so I woke up Saturday morning with a fever and played the sick card all weekend long.
(I am feeling much better now, just feel like I have a cold.)
ANYWAY, I say all of this to communicate that while this time is the most trying in terms of being away from home, it is also such a great way to authentically celebrate the holidays. I have so much to be grateful for! And being grateful doesn’t always constitute doing all the lovely and wonderful things associated with Thanksgiving (read: football, apple pie, running the Gobble Wobble, KC lighting ceremony, mashed potatoes) but being thankful for where you are in the moment. So here’s to being in the moment- and here’s to the holiday season!