It's funny how, when you're abroad small things like holidays seem like a BIG DEAL. When I lived in Europe, every holiday I missed with my family felt like a knife to the heart. Christmas alone, even when spent on vacation in beautiful Barcelona, is super depressing. Year after year, I hosted different expat Thanksgiving celebrations in order to feel like I wasn't missing out. I also remember remarking sadly to my local friends every year that I had nowhere to go for Easter, hoping they would take the hint and invite me home with them.
The first (and most difficult) of many years of expat Thanksgiving pies! It was my first time abroad in 2009 (though not my first Thanksgiving away from home), and I had no idea how difficult it would be to miss a holiday that had never meant much to me before. But having to go to school on that Thursday really, really sucked.
At my Spanish roommate's family's house for New Years 2013/2014. Thank god for his family taking me in that year, as I REALLY needed some friendliness and familiarity during a difficult year, and especially because it was my first-ever Christmas not going home!
At my French (now ex) boyfriend's grandparents' for Easter 2014. Another lifesaver of a family, they were so sweet to buy me a chocolate bunny so I could feel included in the celebrations!
A depressing-as-all-hell Christmas dinner in Barcelona 2014. I couldn't afford to go home for Christmas that year after an unexpected midyear trip back there for a funeral, so I thought traveling would be the next best thing. I tried my best to have holiday cheer anyway, but it was pretty rough, to be honest.
Watching my little baby students meeting their idols, los Reyes Magos (the three wise men) made me miss my niece and nephews SO much. Even though we don't celebrate this holiday in the States, being alone for Reyes 2015 was still hard.
I had no desire to be alone during these "special" times of year back then, because it just made me feel homesick, imagining all my family was doing back home without me. I was constantly imagining that they were having so much fun, forgetting how boring holidays can sometimes be. Silly brain, selling me bullshit all the time.
But now that I'm back in the US, living close to my family, it was just was Easter weekend and driving the 3 hours up to my parents' place seemed like too much work. I'm too tired. Meh.
Maybe it would have been fun, but I've also been really busy the past few weeks and just felt like I needed a break. So while everyone I know was posting pictures of their children dying Easter eggs and going on hunts for them in their backyards in adorable dresses, I went out on a walk to enjoy the sunshine and the newly-blossoming flowers. While it wasn't the most exciting holiday in the world, and it certainly wasn't what I'd been imagining all those homesick years away from home, it was nice. I felt very happy to just enjoy my own company as well as that of my bestie Aníbal (my camera).
Easter flowers, 2017
So while I'm not leading the life I expected to be while missing my family back in Europe, I'm not unhappy about my recent decision to NOT celebrate Easter at all. It was a nice day spent taking care of my physical and mental health, and I have no regrets about that. After all, isn't one of the true marks of reintegration with a group that you stop feeling anxiety about FOMO (fear of missing out, for my non-Millennial readers)? There will be other Easters, other holidays spent with my crazy family. I mean, don't take your loved ones for granted, because they won't be around forever of course...But do what's best for you without guilt or sadness. At least, that's what I'm learning to do this Easter. Cuidaos, amigos.