Remember the days of mass texts every holiday?
"Happy Thanksgiving!! <3 <3 <3 "
I don't remember being someone who sent a lot of those little 2-word texts out, but they are nostalgic for me now. I kind of miss them. As we get older and our people get spread further and further across the country and the world, and sadly as some of them are no longer with us, it makes the holidays feel weightier. It makes me miss "simpler times."
My morning is full of nostalgia, and I am surprised by it.
Today Jake and I are boarding a plane to Texas to spend time with my sister Natalie and her husband Kevin. Two of my cousins, who are two of my best friends, are coming along. In some ways it feels very adult of us - to go our own path for the holiday. To take full advantage of the work holidays, and use it for an adventure. To make new memories.
I knew this year I needed to spend time with family, so I feel very grateful for this opportunity.
Last year, Jake and I stayed in Colorado for Thanksgiving. I thought I didn't need to go home at all, and we were planning on seeing his family for Christmas which is just so soon after it didn't make sense to do 2 trips. I used flight prices being too expensive as an excuse, and we invited some new friends over. That felt grown up too, as I taped the Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer to my fridge, to follow it's instructions for roasting my first turkey. It was with a sense of pride that I told all my new co-workers I was hosting. It was with joy that we placed an old tablecloth over a card table in our living room, and tried to fancy-up paper napkins with ribbon.
But on Thanksgiving morning, I woke up with an ache in my heart. Our clean white apartment felt too quiet. I missed my family, missed our traditions of cramming 30+ people into my grandma's house. I missed the appetizers of sliced baguette and cheese, and the circles I walked around the house, loving every chance to make a loop in the kitchen because the smell coming from the oven was the best in the world. But I couldn't linger because I didn't want to be assigned a task ;) I missed the way my Mom would round everyone up around the dining room table over the steaming plates, to read a Psalm from the Bible and say a prayer, and how those who don't believe in prayer would oblige her. I missed watching my cousins and uncles play soccer or football in the yard, and how the older kids would camp out in the basement that smelled like firewood.
Our Thanksgiving last year ended up being lovely, but still lonely. And I'm surprised to feel some of those same feelings again this year.
I didn't expect to be nostalgic this morning, because we are making new memories and adventures. We will be with family, after all. But still, I'm a little homesick for the whole traditional thing, for how things used to be. It's funny, because as a kid you are so eager to grow up, you don't think about what you will miss.
I think my sensitive heart is probably the ripple effect from watching the movie Lady Bird, and how it struck such a strong cord with me. The movie ends with the main character leaving home, and there's this unanswered question of whether or not she will return.
You can assume she will come home to visit with a new appreciation for her parents, her brother, her home town of Sacramento. At least, that's been my experience. Living far away has given me a chance to see my family more clearly from getting the bigger picture at a distance instead of getting snagged on our little differences up close.
Being apart from my family, specifically living far, far away, has helped bring so much appreciation for them. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. But it's a double-edged sword, because on both holidays and normal, boring days, I miss them.
This morning I'm allowing myself to be a bit nostalgic, not in order to wallow or complain, but to appreciate the gifts. It is the day for thanksgiving, after all. So I'm reflecting on and appreciating my upbringing, my Thanksgiving traditions, my quirky, loud, lovely family. I'm sure people all over the world battle with some sort of nostalgia today, because how can you not compare the present time to what once was? Lucky for us, according to this article from The Scientific American, nostalgia is apparently good for us. Nostalgia apparently increases our sense of social connectedness, helps us feel connected to our past, and brings a sense of self-continuity. This is a good thing because self-continuity brings feelings of vitality (aka "energy and spirit").
I'm sitting with the full bittersweet feels this morning, hoping that soon the bitter will give way to sweet. Soon, I'm going to call my parents and tell them all the things I'm missing about them and the things I hope we get to enjoy together again one day soon, and things I want to carry on to the next generation.
And I'm hoping that this blog post will find it's way back to me next year as I'm booking plane tickets, to act as a catalyst to get me home with my people ;)
Oh, and if you get a "Happy Thanksgiving" text from me, know that I mean it <3