Aloha is....a surprise in the mail from my British Bestie, Nadine, when I'm homesick with the holiday blues.
I swore I would never be one of those people who get the holiday blues. I mean, it's the most wonderful time of the year, right? Yet, I have memories of my mother getting cranky and homesick every holiday season when we were kids. I couldn't understand how she could be so moody and angry with my father or us kids for her being so far away from her family during the holidays. I mean, she was an adult. She made the decision to leave, right? I didn't tell her to leave. Surely, it wasn't my fault. So, what gives?
Well, that was then. And, this is now. All those times my mother warned me, "Just wait until you have kids. You'll see."
Well, I've been eating my words ever since.
Every since I moved to San Diego at 40, I've grown increasingly homesick and grumpy with each holiday season. I couldn't believe it. I never thought it could happen to me. I also realized I'm now the age my mother was when she was at her worst for homesickness.
Fast forward to this year: Sure enough, like clockwork, as soon as I started pulling out the holiday decorations over Black Friday weekend, here comes the first (mood) swing! As much as I want to be happy, humming along to the Christmas songs I pulled up from YouTube, I can feel the inevitable sick feeling in my gut as I pull out the garland from the storage bins. As I drape it over the living room curtain rods and the tops of armoires, deep down I'm only trying to slow down the inevitable and overwhelming waves of guilt about to pull me under for leaving my family to create a new life in San Diego, the land of palm trees and sandy beaches!
It feels so wrong to be in Southern California during the holidays, so I vowed to myself that I would make every Christmas a "New England Christmas" by decorating the whole inside of the house like a ski lodge, complete with a real Christmas tree (bought at The Home Depot parking lot, of course - not exactly the same hike up the mountain like I used to do with my father as a kid), pine cones, fake pine branches, mistletoe, poinsettia plants, and buffalo check designs all over the pillows, blankets and napkins. I even gift-wrap all the kitchen cabinet doors and the hanging art work with paper designed with deer, snowflakes and more buffalo check, finished off with a bow of twine or ribbon with a small twig off the tree inserted in its center.
Why do I put in so much effort? First, it helps to distract me and keep me busy. The amount of decorating I do easily takes several days if not weeks, as I'm always adding something. And, In a way, it's a form of holiday self-care for my mind, body and spirit. Secondly, it's the least I can do to make the holidays cheery and bright not only for myself, but also for my family. I can't take out the choice I made to start my life over on anyone else. So, instead I focus on making our house as beautiful, bright and homey as possible using nine bins of decorations to help create the right "home for the holidays" atmosphere in the hopes that some day my stepsons will look back with fond memories of my efforts to make their Christmas "East Coast style" special.
This year, as I'm decorating, I can hear the dogs bark incessantly at someone outside. Sure enough it's the delivery man with a package for me! Inside is a beautiful collection of pears and apples from Harry and David from my girlfriend, Nadine, in St. Petersburg, Florida! This is not the first time she's sent me a thoughtful gift in the mail during the holidays. In fact, she's made it a point to send me something every year because if there's anyone who understands the homesick holiday blues, it's Nadine. An American citizen now, Nadine is originally from England where her parents, brother and sister-in-law live. I can only imagine how homesick she feels with her family out of the country!
I met Nadine over 15 years ago when I worked for the American Institute for Foreign Study, a company with an office in Stamford, Connecticut and headquarters in London. I worked in the work travel department where I placed international college students in summer jobs in America. We placed students as camp counselors or support staff in the summer camp industry as well as support staff at resorts nationwide. Nadine was one of my clients who was in charge of hiring our student applicants for her all-girls summer camp in Connecticut.
Since Nadine was so far away from home and she worked in a remote area of Connecticut where it can be hard to make friends, we became friends. Having a mother who's from another country and remembering the trouble she had making new friends in a new environment, I felt compelled to reach out to Nadine and offer her my friendship and assistance while she was in the States. Well, we've been best friends ever since! I was even her maid of honor at her wedding.
It's hard being homesick, but it's definitely easier being homesick with someone else who's homesick, too. It's good to share your feelings with others who can offer you love, laughter, kindness, compassion and empathy. I'm so grateful to have that in Nadine.
That also just goes to show you that you never know when and where you can meet a friend for a lifetime. In my case, Nadine is my family. And even though we live on opposite coasts now, she is never too far away from my heart and I in her's. And, I have pears to prove it!
Thank you, as always, for remembering me and my homesick holiday blues and thank you for your aloha spirit.
Happy Christmas, Nadine! xoxo
Live, Love and Lead with Aloha!
Nadine Kostak when I gots the homesick holiday blues! Thank you!! Xoxo