I came to Denmark thinking that my life would completely change and, for the most part, it has. I know that when Aaron and I were considering such a profound move away from the place we grew up, we both agreed that change was something we needed in order to move forward in our lives. As we walked to the train from our friend’s home; friends that invited us into their lives, fed us, comforted us and have been truly welcoming, our faith in this incredibly difficult decision was affirmed.
Aaron said to me that “if it was so wrong to make such a tremendous move than things wouldn’t feel so right…” and I agree with him. In the darkest moments of these times I still feel like we made a good choice in risking everything to be in a new and challenging place. To feel such desperation met with great kindness and openness has been awesomely enlightening. I felt, in a lot of ways, that I was a burden back in California as well as being burdened. Like the life I was creating for myself was mostly refusing to grow up and actually be an adult.
I mean, I knew how to pay my bills… I knew how to get to work and how to get work… I knew how to set up accounts and be somewhat self-sufficient… I even knew how to file for healthcare and get to my doctor’s office. But when it came to bigger things, harder things like moving through my life without a supportive backup plan and how to make friends from random visits to coffee shops… how to prepare a resume in a foreign language or just asking for help from people that are not your parents. Saving money and being responsible with that savings… seeking work just to break even… heck, even just spending Christmas thousands of miles away from family…. Suddenly I realized that I was just a child raising a child, and now I feel a little more like an actual adult.
Aaron thinks that sounds funny, finally feeling like an adult, but it’s true… this is the first Christmas I’ve ever spent away from my parents. This is the first Christmas where I haven’t had my mom’s cooking or spent hours at the mall trying to figure out what to get my dad (the man that has everything), this is the first Christmas where I didn’t go to church with my family and the first Christmas without Pillsbury Orange cinnamon rolls. I love to think of Christmas as a holiday built on traditions but I realized, being so far from what is familiar to me, that Christmas is more about being able to spend time with people and feel happy about the time being spent.
I spent what is usually a time for my family with two new families that I feel like I can now adopt as my own. They welcomed us into their homes, made us ridiculously wonderful food, bought us presents, and helped us cope with the strange and unfamiliar territory that is being broke and alone during the holidays… I’ve never had that before. I’ve never had someone message me, without having actually met me and invite me over for a meal let alone providing my daughter with presents I could not buy her. It felt wonderful and heartwarming and… it felt good, it felt really really good in a time when we really needed it.
I know that my husband also misses his mom and, sadly, his father. I know that he hasn’t really spent Christmas away from his mom most of his life in the same way I haven’t been away from mine and that we were both having a hard time moving through the holidays… but then we keep finding our lives touched by people who care that we are alone… and that’s really important. That means there are people out there that care about us and what happens to us beyond our families… and that feels so freaking amazing I can’t even explain it. That’s love we have earned from love we have shared. I wish I had more than love, I wish I had gifts and duck and wine but I don’t… and for some reason, it doesn’t matter and I could not be more grateful for that.