Saturday, December 6, 2008

We are thankful this holiday season

It seems really funny to be home already. Granted, we traveled all day and it took a good 11 hours to get back to Panama. But something around the fact that we were in Breckenridge, CO and four degrees Farenheit on Thursday night and back in 80 degrees less than 48 hours later! We actually enjoyed seeing, tasting, smelling and feeling the snow. It felt clean. Nice. And, yes, very cold to our thin skins too.

But in a strangely familiar way, this time as we came back to Panama, it feels more like home than Colorado does. Now, it is still really nice when the immigration officials tell us ‘Welcome Home’ when we re-enter the U.S. each time. I love that. And while we were back in Denver over the last week, a good friend greeted us with ‘Welcome home!’ and that felt really nice too. But he told me over the last two days in Denver that he was really ready to come home. To Panama. Where Lily and the cats were waiting for us. Where our new lives have taken shape. It has now been nine months. Enough time to grow a baby from start to finish and perhaps that is a good analogy. We have formed and shaped and hacked out even through some very uncomfortable days here, a new life together. With our mutt and the kitties and each other. And, it feels pretty good. So, we are thankful for that and especially thankful this warm December night – to be home.

Thanksgiving Abroad
We were invited by one of our American friends to join their family and some other expat ‘orphans’ for a potluck Thanksgiving. So, she cooked her grandmother’s famous yellow squash casserole. Except that there was no yellow squash to be found in Panama, so the substitute of zucchini did just great! And, also, some creative sweet potato casserole. Again, a family recipe from down South Arkansas. Both were great hits, mind you and complimented by many guests.
Meanwhile, we partook in real Butterball turkey ( no organic turkeys to be found here; we have become oh-so-spoiled with our Colorado natural pastimes like this in previous holidays). But, no matter, the Butterball tasted great to our carne-starved tongues, as well as the tons of other great food – stuffing, Italian casserole, great tasting green salads with cranberries and oranges, cranberry jello salad, and pumpkin pie and cheesecake. Oh, yes, and lots of wine. Lots and lots of wine.

The best part was the company. New friends and colleagues. All with something in common. Our first shared Thanksgiving in Panama with each other. We heard stories from other expats about other holidays abroad and what had made them special and difficult too. We laughed and ate and were thankful. And, it was very, very good. We are thankful for new friends in a new country and the time to share an old tradition in a new way.

Naturally, we miss our friends and family. Very much. This year here has taught us so much. Patience. Letting go. How to enjoy and have fun, even when it is frustrating. New experiences to be tasted and savored. The challenges of new cultures, a new language, a new environment. The beauty of friendships and relationships from afar. The specialness of clinging to each other for comfort and friendship in all the new experiences. Learning. Laughing.

All this to say, we are grateful for the chance to share some words now and then with you. And, for your interest in sharing these tidbits with us, along the way. This is a special time in our lives. We cherish it (at least on most days) and we cherish your friendships and your love that we feel very much this holiday season.

Our thoughts, prayers and love are with each of you. Our very best.
He, She, Lily, Blossom and Elphaba

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