Today was the beginning of a 26 1/2 day long winter break from school. The week has been full of last minute homework, special treats, small gifts and over stimulated children. Today was filled with class parties, a dodgeball game, a middle school talent show, a 5th grade bowling party and holiday appetizers and drinks with friends. It wasn't until I had a chance to sit down tonight that I really had a chance to process what went on all around me.
Obviously I have not been clueless to the different nationalities of expats, as well as the local Japanese, living here. However, today as I watched my kids interact with their friends, I really had a "wow" moment. I never dreamed in a million of years my kids would have friends from all over the world. They have friends from Japan, Canada, Korea, India, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, the UK, Norway, Finland, Belgium, Taiwan, Thailand, France, Iran, Sweden and China. When I was Sam's age I didn't even know these places existed. Chris is one of the only Americans in all fifth grade (He may even be the only one since one of the kids just moved) so he really has had an eye opening experience. Emily has more international friends than Americans.
As I stood in the school today I heard their friends shout "Goodbye! Have a nice break! Happy New Year!" in English and then turn around and say the same thing to someone else in their own native language. Some kids could say it in multiple languages. I heard chatter of "where are you going over break?" "Do you have any plans" and "I get to go home!" throughout the school. There was excitement in the air, whether the kids were staying in Japan, going on a holiday somewhere or going to their home country after not being back for 5+ months. (We have friends who are going home for the first time in over 2 years!)
Christmas has been a very hard holiday since we lost Allison. And when we made the decision to not go back to the states this December for multiple reasons, I felt very secure in our decision. But I have to admit Thanksgiving here was hard. And now that the reality we are not going home for Christmas has sunk in, I am a wee bit homesick. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I feel like a bad parent not being there to visit Allison for Christmas. I miss our holiday traditions.
But, as I sit and think about today, I think of the memories and experiences we are creating for our kids. I think about how much our kids have changed since moving here 11 months ago. I think about the new memories we will create as a family, spending Christmas and New Years in Asia. I hope they will look back on our short time here with fondness, as I do so many memories from my own childhood.