It's a beautiful, sunny Christmas Eve afternoon in upstate NY. I didn't even have the guts to wish for such beautiful winter weather - it's done wonders in keeping me fairly optimistic during such a big transition. (Who's going to be the dork to comment about global warming and the four horsemen of the apocalypse? I just needed some sun.)
My shipment arrived last Wednesday and I've been swimming in boxes and cardboard and packing paper for days. This is my routine: I roll out of bed, grab the nearest box and start unpacking it, and continue on to the next one after that one is empty. I do that until one or two in the morning, and then I go to sleep and wake up the next morning and do it again. Occasionally I eat or shower. It's not as bad as it sounds because I'm getting a lot done and I get to have my iTunes playing in the background while I work. I can also give friends or family a call when I need a break and not worry about a seventeen-hour time difference like I did in Japan. After ten days my new place is starting to look and feel like home, which is a bit of a miracle.
I've taken a couple of breaks to do a tiny bit of holiday baking (with help from my sister) so I could take treats to the people in the neighborhood who have shown me kindness. It was fun to do and it feels good to already have a small group of acquaintances in the area.
I've heard from so many friends this week, including Japanese and American ex-pat friends. It feels great to keep in touch with the people who made my time overseas so amazing. My favorite "present" at Christmas is always to get Christmas cards in the mail (I think I get this from my grandmother - she used to count how many cards she got each birthday and brag about it for days). I've received dozens of greetings from all over the country and world, and that feels great.
It's emotional to finally be home for Christmas, and so comforting to have all of the familiar American traditions around me. I have great memories of Christmas dinners of sushi and sake, with all of my Japanese friends huddled around an electronic translator so we could understand each other, but I admit to having a McDonald's cheeseburger today and it was perfect! (Just to clarify - that's not an American Christmas tradition, it was just a craving.) Tonight I'll go to my sister and brother-in-law's for pizza and gifts. It's almost too good to be true. :)
Here is another Christmas story that made me feel like the world is a good place to be. Watch the whole (short) video - the last sentence is the best part and hints at a very interesting back story that I wish they'd included. This is in the "pay it forward" realm, which always encourages me.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!