Monday, December 24, 2012

So, this is Christmas...

As I am honing in on ten months of living in South Korea, I can say, without a doubt, that heated toilet seats in public restrooms are unsettling, albeit cautiously welcome when it is chillier in my classroom than it is outside.

I have spent the better part of my year growing up. I left the United States with two suitcases, one back pack, and an absurd amount of naïveté about how the world works. Since February, I have become more of a woman than I did in my four years at university and two years working in the States. While my family visited in August, we had a very poignant moment in which everyone at the table had a communal recognition that I am, in fact, an adult. There was a universal sense of confusion because I will always be the daughter, the little sister, but now, I get to be a grown up, too.

But, right now, I don't feel very grown up. I have never missed Christmas. I have only spent one Christmas morning away from my mom, and I am really struggling trying to balance emotion and logic.

Looking at my schedule the next two days, I am baffled as to how I will accomplish everything. I have a gingerbread house making party tonight; tomorrow, I have a mimosa Christmas breakfast, and  a Christmas dinner in the evening.

This is far too busy for my liking. I think I triple booked myself so that I can forget that I am not with my family. Or, maybe it is just the opposite.

Being in Korea is the first time I have allowed myself to be freely and unadulterated Kathryn. I have forged incredible, lasting friendships.

I am not cheating on my familial traditions, as I had felt last week. I am cobbling together a sense of self. I am Kathryn Marie Botsford. I bear the name and memories of the men and women who helped raise me. I am a product of so much love, so many hopes and dreams.

I came here with two suitcases and a backpack, but whenever I leave, I will do so with friends as close as family in my pockets and memories stitched on my heart.

The holidays are not a time to sit in my house and grieve what has been and what can no longer be. That is how I've approached these holidays. But then, I remember how much I love the song, 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel' and the Advent season. This time isn't about presents or Christmas trees, or even Christmas itself. It is about being with the people you love sharing presence and creating memories. I don't know when I will be home for the next Christmas, but I know that I send home everything I've learned, everything I know to be true on hope's blustery winds.

Today, my mother wrote to me, 'Merry Christmas Eve, my daughter of the future.' And, I realised that I've become the person my mother had always hoped I would be on the day I was born and my first Christmas, and all of them to follow. Each holiday spent as a family built compassion and dreams and adventure within me, so that one day, her daughter of the future would be strong enough to follow her heart.

So, my mother of the past and father from long ago, these holiday traditions you've instilled in me have been a bigger gift than I could ever fathom. You taught me to live. You taught me to love deeply and without abandon. You taught me to give of myself until there is nothing left, and then give some more. You taught me to love the simplicity of Christmas lights, as well as the complexities of Christmas traditions.

So, for you and for us,  I will be laying under the all of our past Christmas trees tonight looking up through the branches at the ornaments searching for the flying dove that will forever connect me to you.

So, with that being said, "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

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