What I am going to say might shock you. You know that run for the hills, she must have bumped her head, shock. This is my first Christmas, that wasn't.
I couldn't be more grateful.
I love Christmas. I love the hustle and bustle. I love the shopping, the gift wrapping, the cookies, the candy, the food, and family time. I have never, ever, ever wished for a Christmas that I had none of those things. I, quite frankly, have always been an eager participant of the "hallmarking" of this holiday even though I know the true meaning. I keep my shopping list, which I never stick to, and I get the ultimate high of giving someone that awesome gift that I know that they will appreciate. So how in the heck am I enjoying my day, alone in an Abu Dhabi hotel while the entire rest of the world is eagerly awaiting Santa to bring his reindeer to their homes in anticipation of culminating morning that many Americans look forward to all month. It is simple - I have experienced Christmas for what it truly is supposed to be about. Reflection, thankfulness, and love.
Now, let me not sugar coat the fact that the last three days this girl has been driving the hot mess express because I wasn't sure how to cope with no gifts, no tree, no family, nothing that pertains to the holidays as usual. I have cried, been down in the dumps, and even said I want to go home. It has been torture of another level watching my Facebook feed stream endless Christmas memories that I encounter each year. However, with no lights to look at and no presents to wrap it made me dig deep and figure out how I was going to make it through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day without being a heaping mess.
I decided to be grateful.
While I miss my family, I now know how much I love and cherish them. Each text is answered promptly, important questions are asked.. not just the type you ask to create small talk. It is so much more meaningful now. I can't even express how much I miss my husband - but I know that the empty feeling is temporary. I know how a complete understanding of those who don't have their perfect match to spend time with, how empty, and sometimes painfully lonely, that feeling is. I have a new found love for my husband, one that I wouldn't have discovered sitting at home around a Christmas tree with twinkling lights. I am so thankful for my friends. How often we take for granted the ease of picking up a phone, texting or just dropping by. Now all calls are methodically planned and each minute is savored. How much richer my friendships are now, than if I was still back home.
I tried to go to midnight mass last night (I'm not Catholic) just to have a taste of home, the holidays, something. However, Abu Dhabi had other plans. With limited street signs, my phone deciding maps was not going to work I, instead, took a driving tour of Abu Dhabi and its neighborhoods. I finally stumbled upon the church which every other expat had. The road was closed off, people were parked in the streets an there was no getting to the church. Plus it was a little after midnight. As I sat in the car, I looked around and noticed that most of these people were Westerners like me. It was at that moment, and after a conversation with my good friend, that the message was clear. I am not alone here, as I have been grappling with the last few days. The perfect message for me - it renewed my spirit tremendously. It is about so much more than what I originally thought.
So you see, this Christmas that wasn't, was.