It’s the mid-afternoon of December 27th, coming off a 3-day Christmas celebration with family, friends, and a lot of Christmas caroling throughout the nights here in Cluj Napoca, Romania.
This holiday season, I’ve been graced by the presence of my little sister who came over to Romania since I couldn’t go back home for the holidays. (The citizenship issues are nearly resolved – my Romanian passport will be issued tomorrow as a belated Christmas gift to end my undocumented, “illegal” residency here. Glory to the Highest.)
Nevertheless, the prospect of spending the holidays away from home pressed upon me throughout the days leading up to Christmas, as the thought of being absent from the usual family preparations and festivities pierced my present expectancy and dampened my spirits. Being used to having over 100 people come over for the holidays and organizing parties and gatherings to now not having a home to invite anyone to made me rather feel like a placeless wanderer for these holidays. Gone were my usual preparations spending hours glamming up a Christmas tree, rushing around malls for days to find the perfect presents for an entire family, making sure all the invites have been sent and confimred, cleaning and setting up an entire house, and wondering if I “did enough” to celebrate the season properly.
As the song and well-known saying goes, “there’s no place like home for the holidays.” It’s true, the idea of home seems more idyllic than ever during the holidays. However, unrequited longing for home did not overcome. Instead, I learned to cherish the very sentiment of missing others (what a blessing it is to have dear ones to say that you miss, and what a privilege it is to know that you yourself occupy such a place in the hearts of others) and to open my heart to the beauty to be found in the present circumstance.
“Wherever you go, there you are.” While I dearly miss my family and friends back home this season, how grateful I am to have and to have found family wherever I have gone thus far. Between family visitations to grandparents and more distant cousins, and evenings spent with friends new and old amidst a backdrop of new scenery, I am deeply grateful for the families that have taken me in and for the time spent with others. These are new memories being made, adding to the breadth and depth of life experience. This is the here and now. It’s not “letting go”, but rather “letting grow” – letting your heart grow into and cherish the moment and people with whom you find yourself. You can grow in wonderful new ways when you open up your heart to the present moment.
If there’s anything that I’m more deeply recognizing now, it’s that more than anything, Christmas is a celebration of the heart. The very “spirit of Christmas” is the heart’s celebration of the truest Light and Love that mankind has ever known coming down to us so that we may become partakers of hope and live out love every day. May we carry that Light forward as we press towards a new year.