Headed “Home” for the Holidays

It’s Sunday night in the middle of December. I’m (Matt) sitting outside by the pool in Costa Rica around 10 pm and the rest of the family is sound asleep (which I should be too, but I had to work) because we are leaving tomorrow morning for a journey back to the States, back to our “home”, back to what we grew up with, have developed with and what we all know.. and I’m feeling things. Good things, excited things, and apprehensive things.. all rolled into one perfect little bundle of joyous, conscious reality.

We have been in Costa Rica this Fall for exactly 89 days as of tomorrow (90 days is our limit!) it’s time to renew our visas and it is the perfect excuse to head back to Colorado and see our friends and family for the holidays. I, honestly, am excited to go back to Colorado, to see our friends, to reconnect with our parents and siblings, and to live for a few weeks in our original home that our family grew up in. I haven’t always felt that way headed back to the states in previous years, but this year, I really am excited and open to traveling back north. I’m also feeling apprehensive about what a journey back to the USA means after this three months in Costa Rica.

It’s been five years since we moved to Costa Rica the first time (5 Years as of one week ago!) We’ve been trying to process things as a family, trying to connect about what the brief transition back to the states will mean for the next month.. getting excited to experience the things we have missed in Costa Rica, and also holding on to the things that are so significant about living in our small world in Costa Rica. We’re ready to celebrate friendships and extended family and also want to hold on to some of the pieces of what our life is like when we’re down here in Tamarindo.

In talking to a number of friends, and reading post after post on Facebook (and other social media sites), it seems like some of the dominant feelings (which we have always felt this time of year) are festive excitement, stress and an abundance of energy put into things that are socially expected, many times enjoyed, yet not always things we’re all are excited to do, sometimes simply expected to do. Holiday Parties, End of Semester School Performances, Neighborhood Shindigs, Office Celebrations, Countless hours of shopping, decorating the inside of the house, lighting up the outside of the house, making plans for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and so on. All great things and also all things that wouldn’t necessarily be a part of our experience if we were not leaving our tiny town in Costa Rica for a month. And that doesn’t mean that it’s bad, but it does mean that it’s different, whether good or bad, or both.

Personally, I don’t enjoy (or need) feeling the stress (and excitement) of the last 10 days before Christmas. I’m not overly concerned about making sure that every single person on our list has a gift under the tree, ready for opening on the 25th. However, I do feel very strongly that we should make an effort, take the time and ensure that we see the people that matter most in our lives during this trip to the USA. I want to connect with our friends that we miss. I want to spend meaningful time with all of our families, that feels very important. A wrapped gift in those moments? yes, that might add to the experience, but it’s not something that I think should be stressed about, or forced just because “it’s Christmas” either. Maybe I’m being to casual or blasé about it all, but after spending so many chunks of our years outside of the chaos, I have really come to appreciate the meaning and value of a connected relationship over gifts and hoopla.

I am excited for dinners around the table talking about what has made an impact on our lives and the lives of the people we are with. I’m excited to share a few beers with friends and family laughing about stories and experiences that impacted our souls. I can’t wait to play games, to see our kids reconnect with their friends, and continue to lay the roots of relationships that will be meaningful as the years and decades continue to pass. In the end, that’s what feels like it matters, the connections, the understandings, the relationships, the pieces that are hard to fully grasp in a phone call, email, or text. That’s what I’m really craving and genuinely longing for.

And YES, we will be getting a Christmas Tree when we get back, not because we should, but because of how it makes us all feel when we sit around it. And YES, the kids and I will put some lights on the house (and it’ll be awesome,) because that will help us feel warm and outwardly celebratory of the holidays. And YES, we will have some gifts under the tree on Christmas morning, because that is a piece of what celebrates and reminds us of what it’s like to be a child waking up early on the 25th with curiosity in our dreams. I love every piece of that, I don’t ever want to deprive my kids of those moments, and also, what I really want is to feel connected, to feel like I see my kids and my wife and to know that they see me as well. Looking back on my holidays as a kid, I have very few memories of the “gifts’ I received, yet I have huge memories of the feelings, the connected experiences and the time spent with people I love.

My goal is to keep the chaos and stress at a minimum and to make sure that being connected, being a family, celebrating friendships and being true to ourselves is at the forefront of our next month. Wish me luck, I have a feeling I might need it. 🙂

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