I imagine many kitchens are filling with delicious smells at this point in the day...the trees all decked out and aglow in living rooms, maybe fires roaring in hearths. Games being broken out among friends and/or families. People boarding planes or driving to their holiday destination. Turkeys (or ham, or salmon, you name it) cooking in the oven, cookies frosted in all manner of colors or sprinkled in a glittering of sugar, cups of hot drink clutched thankfully in hand. Music pulsing from the stereo. Evening mass at church, candles aglow reflecting on each face broken out in song. To me, just a few of the scene of Christmas. Though there are of course, countless more.
Loved ones, laughing and chatting. Rifts, being bridged or put aside in light of the warmth and joy ushered in with the holiday. People falling in love. Happy couples cuddling close. Babies experiencing their first Christmas. Friends who live far apart, thinking about one another, wondering what their dear friend is doing right now. Missing each other. Yearning to visit in person once again.
And yes, with all the excitement and joy, there are people who, equally, may be going through a hard time or phase in their life this holiday season. Maybe having experienced a recent loss, struggling through a time of hardship, or dealing with emotional difficulty within themselves. Maybe some people have particularly tragic family stories, of which the holidays remind them. Or, they are brought face to face with certain painful things from their life during this season. Whatever the reason may be, I am under no illusion, nor am I here to wax on about how romantic, wonderful and perpetually happy the holidays should be or are for everyone and each year. I know that for just as many people, that isn't the case. That for whatever reason, maybe Christmas is actually a difficult time of year for them. Either temporarily at the moment, or because its a challenging time of year for them annually.
However, whether this is a positive, magical, joyous time in your life, or whether it might be a period that is more challenging/difficult, if each person looks close enough at the nuances of their life, there are unquestionably aspects of each life for which to be thankful. Things in each persons life that are good. Aspects that are noteworthy, for which one is blessed. Yes, at some points in each of our lives, we may have more of these than others. As life goes through phases of growth, rebirth, as well as losses and death. Regardless though, I feel confident that nearly everyone, if they look hard enough, can find at least a couple things in their lives of which there is to be full of wonder about.
So. What are yours?
Having returned almost 5 months ago from living in Germany over the prior four years, there have been challenges within the last handful of months of readjustment, and equally, there have been awesome surprises. Among the challenges have included (shockingly, as this was one of the things I didn't even question would go smoothly) securing a full time job. Despite sinking upwards of one hundred hours into the search for such, this has been an upward emotional and literal battle. Watching the bank account dwindling bit by bit, stomach turning and heart sinking along with it. Awaiting with bated breath when this will take a turn in the direction I've been waiting for. (Which I know will happen at some point in the near future. Its merely a matter of when).
The slowing of my life has been an additional interesting adjustment from life back in Europe. In Frankfurt, things were ever lively and bustling. Working every day, seeing a different friend almost every night (for walking in the city, tea and cake, dinner, browsing the bookstore, brunch on weekends, watching Friday Night Lights, you name it), then often hitting the gym.
Weekends a whirlwind of banging out 4-5 recipes for Sweet. Raw. Free. Then rushing into the city and spending afternoons and evenings with friends, in between punctuated with blog writing, gym and library visits on my own.
Now, life in New Hampshire is quite a bit slower, both socially and activity wise. And while this is ok, as I have always been someone easily contented with my own company and rarely bored, it has been an adjustment emotionally. Finding my heart yearning for the close friends I left in Frankfurt, and a bit more liveliness in my day to day life in general.
Living with my mom has been something of an sweet surprise, to say the least. Having gone into such with reservations and mixed emotions. Feeling somewhat tentative and anxious, based on our history which has been something of a rocky, emotion laden trajectory, to say the least. As a whole though, the experience of living with her, much to my awe and shock, has been one of the high points of having moved back. In the past, throughout much of my life, there wasn't room for me in her home. Much to my heart rending surprise and joy, for the first time in my life, there finally is. She has welcomed me into such with warmth, love, support and open arms.
We have baked and cooked together, gone dancing together several times, laughed uproariously over Stephen Colbert and SNL skits side by side on the couch, gone on bike rides along the lake, exercised at the gym together (all the while, giggling and whispering about a few people in particular with regards to whom, my mom and I have developed pretty fun inside jokes).
Reconnections made with a couple specific friends have been a surprising delight. To name the ones whom I have especially felt such with, Sarah and Derek. Though I have reconnected with other close friends too :-), for which I am equally excited and thankful. These two though, I have been delighted to find our connections have re-forged, close and quickly. That has been an awesome aspect to returning.
|This photo taken? 10 years ago :-D of Sarah and me in college, when we first became friends.
|Sarah and me, present day <3
|With Derek :-)
Another incredibly awesome short and sweet surprise, seeing my childhood best friend, Lindsay Emery, again after nearly a decade of not having met in person. Whoa, was this absolutely awesome :-D. If I hadn't moved back here this past August...this reuniting visit wouldn't have happened when it did.
Equally, I have remained quite close with a handful of my Europe friends, which I hope (and at least from my end, intend) to endure. I talk with a few of them weekly, and a couple others once every few weeks. But I don't feel any less close with them emotionally. Whenever we do talk, I feel just as close as we were when I lived there. And sure, while having returned from Europe just a few months ago makes this more likely (as opposed to if I had been here for say, a year or two, that's when it gets harder staying as emotionally connected), but I know its very possible. I know this because I maintained close emotional connections with a handful of my friends back here in the US over the four years I was in Europe.
And, the last mention in my musing on blessings and sweet surprises, a man I met some months ago. One I certainly didn't see coming, feeling certain (and totally cool with such) that I wouldn't date seriously until having returned and gotten situated with an apartment, ideally in Boston, as well as with a full time job under my belt. Then, I thought, maybe I will date. Some 7, 8, 9 months after returning, who knows. I wasn't especially interested, nor looking with intent or in any rush to find a relationship. Queue this guy entering my life, exactly one month after I moved back.
I have to admit, upon on first date, and even our second, I was leaning more towards no. Where he is introverted...quiet...shy...reserved, I tend towards being more outgoing...talkative...animated and, truth be told, some might even say occasionally zany. Where he is rational, logical, his wildly impressive intelligence especially mathematical/science based, I tend towards being whimsical...imaginative...an idealistic romantic (aka not always very realistic ;-)), finding myself more partial to writing/reading/emotional and social type of intelligence as more my forte (science and math? Don't even ask. Unquestionably my weaker points, for sure). (Though we are both actually introverts, which has thus far been a really nice complimenting).
So, as I sat across from him and we chatted on that first date, my initial thoughts were going something along the lines of, nope. This isn't going to work. We are way too different. He isn't my type, and frankly, I'm probably not his either. Ill have a nice time, be friendly, enjoy his company and we just wont go out again, I decided.
By the end of that first date though, I was very surprised to find myself hoping that instead, he would ask me for a second date. He did.
Having found myself something akin to awed by how much I misjudged the potential between us on that first and second date. I feel myself drawn toward, inspired by, and surprised to find myself falling for this man, both, in light of our differences, the ones I was so sure were why we wouldn't move forward into anything more, and within all the special qualities I am observing in him, the more and more time we spend together. He has been one of the most out-of-left-field surprises of my return thus far.