The holiday season is upon us, and I am looking forward to a break and to spend some time with my family and friends. My parents are in town, and I will have a chance to spend Christmas with both my family and my wife’s family, so I am so fortunate, especially considering the fact that many people struggle through lonesome holidays without and/or away from loved ones.
Despite all of this, there is still a piece of me that is a little bit sad. I grew up in Sweden, and spent the first twenty-one years of my life there. When I was younger, my parents, my sister and I would all travel to the far north to visit my grandparents over the Christmas holidays. No matter how old I get, those twenty or so Christmases are etched in my mind and when I think of Christmas, my first thought always goes back to those holidays.
One of the difficult things of being an immigrant is that there are feelings, sentiments, and atmospheres associated with your home country that you can never escape. I am sure that I look at the Christmases of my youth through rose colored glasses, but still, these memories remind me of the difficulty of leaving one culture for another.
Do not misunderstand me. I am so happy to live where I do, and I would not want to change my current life for anything in the world. I have the most amazing wife that I still cannot believe actually agreed to marry me, my wonderful sister with her family lives nearby, and my parents make frequent trips from Sweden to visit. And yet, a small, small part of me still misses that very cold air as I stepped outside of my grandparents’ door to go cross country skiing. That same part sometimes longs for all the traditional Swedish Christmas food. It even misses the omnipresent darkness during the winter months in Sweden.
I am fully aware that I am being nostalgic, but then again, it is that time of the year. But, at the same time as I feel a tinge of sadness, I am grateful. Grateful that I had those experiences when I was younger. Grateful that I am now living in a wonderful city with a wonderful family who is helping me make new Christmas memories. Grateful that I have had the privilege to get to know two countries and cultures very intimately. Grateful that I have fond childhood memories to think back upon.
So, on Christmas eve, I will call my grandparents and ask them how they are doing, thank them for all that they did and continue to do for me, and then move on to enjoy the blessings of my beloved family. In the end, I am thankful for the little bit of sadness as it reminds me to appreciate all that I have had and continue to have. Not all of us are fortunate enough to make joyful Christmas memories, and the memory of the crisp snow under my feet as I walked through my grandparents’ city helps me see the larger picture. Yes, it is ok to miss my home country. But, more importantly, these memories help lift my spirits as I realize how incredibly lucky I am to be living the life that I do.