Holidays away from home can be difficult and social media doesn’t make it easier. The barrage of snaps, Instagrams and status updates made last week challenging at times. I so wanted to be home with family like everyone else seemed to be. I wanted to hug my ninety-year-old grandma and congratulate my brother and his fiancée. I wanted to squeeze into Nanna’s house with countless cousins and bake pies without visiting the American Food store. I wanted to quote SNL’s “Back Home Ballers” and watch football with my dad. I wanted all of the familiar joy and gratitude of the holiday. How foolish I was to think I could only have that at home.
Last week I celebrated no less than FOUR thanksgivings here in Uppsala. I celebrated with friends, roommates, colleagues and students and I ate more sweet potato than I am comfortable admitting. I laughed around a table with so many amazing people. I prepared my first turkey and didn’t give anyone food poisoning. I botched a pecan pie and then made a killer one. I shared in traditions new and old and broke bread with this family I have made for myself. And I regretted my poor, pitiful me routine.
In three weeks time, I will be celebrating Christmas at home with family and my petty homesickness will feel even more selfish than it does now. Truth is, our world is in a tough spot. There are families without a place to go home to, or families whose gatherings this holiday season will be a much more somber affair. There are many reasons to feel saddened or angered, many reasons to feel hateful or hopeless, but I am choosing gratitude. I have to.