Text from my sister this morning: Hi sissy! Jake and I are on a ferry, going to take a bus to Logan airport and sleep over there. Our flight leaves at 6 am tomorrow morning.
Wait, what?! You’re leaving for Michigan.. already?? This is when the wake-up call came through and I actually had to pause, take a step back, and really think about what day it was. Not one bone in my body could ever imagine that it is actually the 19th of December and Christmas is a mere six days away.
Coming into this, I knew that I would be missing the holidays. It was something I had to do if I wanted to take this opportunity to teach in Thailand. I felt prepared to miss the holidays when I left, even though I knew it was probably killing my mom and dad to know that I wouldn’t be there on Christmas morning to open up presents and scarf down a breakfast made for kings. My sister and Jake have decided to go to Michigan for Christmas, so that’s unfortunately a double whammy for mom and dad this year. I’m banking on my extended family to get them through (load up my mom with mimosas and white zin!).
Thanksgiving came and went and I survived the holiday with the help of my new friends. I wasn’t very homesick for Thanksgiving and I’m glad for that, because I didn’t want to be homesick when I had only been here for one measly month. There is a lot more time for that and I didn’t want Thanksgiving to be the breaking point.
After I received my first card from Em, I was so happy. At the same time, it was my first feeling of Wow, this is the person I used to spend every moment with outside of work and now we are writing letters to one another. It is a strange realization. Those closest to me are now very distant, and it is not always easy to plan a Skype session, although I feel fortunate for iMessaging and whatsapp, which allows me to text when I have wifi without getting charged for it.
When one card came, others slowly began arriving here and there. I get my mail delivered to school to ensure that it actually gets to me safely. Each time the secretary finds me, my eyes light up and I get a humungous smile on my face. My students crowd around my desk to see what I get and I always show off my letters and postcards to them.
Last Friday, I had a field trip so I wasn’t at school (Let me add, the most horribly exhausting and sweaty field trip of my life. It was Friday the 13th, jokes on me!). When I got home, I had a message from Brittany saying that she had a letter AND a package for me. She knew that since it was Friday, I would have had to wait in anticipation if it just sat at school all weekend, so she was a very good person and took it home for me. I was so much more excited for this package than I ever thought I would be, I think mainly because this was quite a large surprise, and I had no idea that anything was coming for me or who it would be from. So, Brittany and Emily brought me my package and they were just as excited for me to open it and to find out what was inside. If I only could have had a picture taken of us sitting on my bed smiling and staring at this enormous package, frantic about what the contents would be. As soon as I saw the handwriting on the box, I knew immediately that it was from my parents. Leave it to my mom to send me some cheering up on a day that had just stressed me out to the max. Funny how things work that way!
As I fumbled to rip the tape off of the box I heard a bit of jingling, like Santa himself was in the box. Of course my mom sent me Christmas decorations! It wouldn’t be a Christmas living away from home if I didn’t get these from my mom. I should have known! Tinsel, door/window hangings, and Santa hats! I have zero decorations in my classroom and I have zero decorations in my house, so this was an amazing surprise. I think I will be decking out my classroom in these gifts so that I can share my Christmas cheer with my students! The decorations will be appreciated much more in my classroom, where all of my students and parents can see them, as opposed to being hung in my bedroom to be seen only by me.
When I was finished oogling over the Christmas decorations, I went back at the box to see what else was inside. All that I saw was a layer of wrapping paper with a piece of paper on top that read, Don’t open till Christmas J. Santa Clause came a bit early and it will take all that I have to wait another week until Christmas to open this, but it will be well worth it I’m sure. My parents are extremely thoughtful and I am very thankful that I will have something to open on Christmas. As much as I know that giving is better than receiving, receiving will be especially rewarding this year for me, just to make it feel like I am not totally skipping the holiday.
What will make or break the Christmas feeling for me on the 25th is what it feels like to be working on the most wonderful holiday. Christmas is only an observance in Thailand, not a national holiday, so my coworkers and I will have a regular day at work. I am not sure I have come to terms with this yet. Even though I have had many Christmases where my dad was working, and it happens to many people, it just doesn’t seem fair! In my 25 years, I have always had school or work off, and had plenty of time to spend with my family, but this Christmas will be the weirdest yet. I have high hopes that my friends and I will make it a holiday worth celebrating, and why wouldn’t we since we will all be trying to make the best out of what we have to work with. I plan on doing Christmas activities with my students all week long. They may have to be math, science, or English related, but I am determined to dedicate next week to Christmas and I think my students will be on the same page. We also have a Christmas Show on the 23rd, which should be absolute mayhem, and a classroom New Year's party on the 27th. Let's hope these events help me feel like I am not skipping Christmas.
Silver lining: Amelia, Brittany, Emily, and I will be headed to Koh Tao to do our open water scuba diving certification course on the 27th and we get time off for New Year’s, so at least we get a long 5 day weekend. It still would be better to have Christmas off, but I’ll take a trip to a beautiful island as a late Christmas present to myself! Check out where we will be diving and staying at http://www.simplelifedivers.com/!
We skip Christmas, save the money, and go splash in the Caribbean for ten days.
-Skipping Christmas, by John Grisham