The holiday season in Bangkok has been a challenge. Skyping with my mother at the beginning of the month, and she said something about how I “am Christmas.” I do the decorating. I sing Christmas songs while I’m working, while I’m showering, while I’m partaking in daily conversation. I put a Christmas movie on nightly, and I am very serious about seeing an appropriate amount of Christmas lights throughout the neighborhood, the city, the state. Heck, at 27 years old I was still trying to convince my brother to camp out with me in one room, and when he refused (as he started doing at age 15), I still jumped on his bed at 7am. Singing, of course.
This year, I’m in Thailand. I’m living minimally, so there aren’t many decorations – just a minuscule tree from Ikea. I still sing all the songs, but they aren’t playing anywhere besides my Spotify account. I work six days a week and have yet to stay awake through one whole Christmas movie. There are a few spots with lights here, but it kind of looks like someone threw them on the buildings and bushes like you do spaghetti to a wall to see if it’s al dente. And, the blatantly obvious, my family and childhood friends aren’t here. There will be no Christmapalooza with my Quadpod.
Until now, I have never really been homesick on my travels or while living abroad. However, I also have never missed a Christmas and it has really messed with me.
But then I can’t help but think – I am so lucky to have wonderful, joy-filled past Christmases to miss. I know not everyone can say that, and many people are separated from their loved ones for years without the choice or option to see them at the holidays.
I am in charge of the huge Christmas party at my school, and it’s been a total mess – I was being a real Grinch because of it, but got out of bed today on Christmas Eve and made a conscious decision to wake up that Christmas spirit I know is still in there somewhere. I smiled and said “Merry Christmas!!” to random Thais (whom I probably frightened), I danced with and cuddled my kids (in their huge jackets, because, you know, it’s 75 degrees here) and I made time to just be with some of my Bangkok people.
It worked. While I was still 9,000 miles away from my family, I realized I have a little travel family here…and it finally felt like Christmas.