For the first time in five years, I’m spending Christmas at home. I’m not flying in on a 13 hour flight from Tokyo or Shanghai. I’m not spending Christmas in China and Lunar New Years in the states. I’m actually home during the holidays, and it’s a wonderful feeling.
I flew into Salt Lake City on Christmas eve and was greeted to a white blanket of snow on Christmas morning. It was the perfect Christmas present to my morning.
Although I’m spending the holidays in the United States, the month of December hasn’t felt much like Christmas because of Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is 75 degrees and sunny everyday, and I’ve been wearing the same jeans and t-shirt since August. Until my trip to Utah for the holidays, my coat was still packed up in my suitcase from Shanghai.
Surprisingly, I miss bundling myself up in a coat, mittens, scarf and boots. I like feeling the cold against my face and the crunch of snow beneath my feet. I like having seasons.
I guess for me, Christmas is about taking the coat out of the closet. It’s about escaping the cold with a warm cup of tea or hot chocolate inside. It’s looking outside at the snow and feeling the serenity of winter’s silence.
Honestly, it didn’t feel like Christmas until I stepped into Utah. It made me wonder if people in Southern California have a difference perception of Christmas compared to others?
My family is but a small group of four. We only have each other here in Salt Lake City, but sometimes that’s all you need. I spent my Christmas day much like I spent it when I was eight years old–in my pajamas, opening presents, eating, and watching movies and playing games.
Although celebrating the holidays in Utah has been amazing, I miss my “Shanghai family.” I used to feel very lonely and isolated when spending Christmas in Asia, but last year I had assembled such a close and wonderful cast of friends, I found myself with another family outside of the United States. At my humble apartment in Shanghai last year, I had a room full of Italians, Russians, Japanese, Chinese, Americans–it was a smorgasbord of cultures all convening together for one purpose: to enjoy Christmas together.
That’s the worst part about being an international traveler, an ex-pat, a wanderer. You leave a piece of your heart wherever you go, and you constantly feel the pain of that empty space full of the memories of your loved ones, of the family you made in that land far away.
To my Shanghai family, to my Japan family, and to everyone all around the world–Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
And last but definitely not least: Happy Anniversary to my lovely boyfriend. Today marks our one year together and I couldn’t be happier. Although he’s slaving away on Christmas and this entire week, he has been my new family and life here in the United States. Thank you for helping me keep my sanity in Los Angeles, for listening to me complain about work and SoCal traffic, and for being the wonderful, kind, caring, and hard-working boyfriend you are. I’m lucky to have you, and here’s to many, many more years together.