Thanksgiving came at just the right time this year. Not because I needed a day off work (which I don’t get since this isn’t America), but because I desperately needed the chance to count all that fills me with gratitude. What I learned was that my blessings are innumerable, and I need to start giving thanks more often. This was a pretty amazing year for me, and I am thankful that I got to live it and that I have the promise (or at least hope) of many more years just as spectacular to come.
Just Some of the People, Places, and Things That Deserve Thanks
My Family – Thank goodness I was born into this large and unruly mob of people who love me unconditionally and accept that I chose a life plan a little out of the ordinary. I often marvel at how my very young parents managed to be such talented nurturers of 5 very different children. We really hit the genetic jackpot – not because we love the family history of heart disease, but because there aren’t more loving and generous parents to be found. Even from afar, I have felt your love and support. I love all the emails, FaceTime calls, and mail. I love that I am still included in family events, like the Turkey Trot! I love that I have all sorts of memories to keep me warm. I love that I will always have a home to return to. I love that my siblings and cousins are among my best friends. I am excited to see you all in person this summer and to keep hearing about your adventures throughout the year.
My Friends – Unless Dad’s jokes about paying people to be my friends are true, I really lucked out in being surrounded my whole life with delightful people who make me laugh and help me grow. Moving away has made it tough to stay in touch with everyone, but I am continually amazed and impressed by the outpourings of love from friends across the globe. There is something remarkably special about people who have been part of most of my major moments and who love me because of or in spite of my craziness. I am particularly grateful that I have several friends (including my beloved twin cousin) making the trek to see me during my first year abroad. I am beyond thankful for the friends who have sent mail, email, text messages (I am on GroupMe and WhatsApp; join so you can spend your days texting me!), commented on the blog, and more to stay connected. Life would be a lonely and less interesting place without you all.
New Friends – Moving to a new continent was scary, and I had fears that I would not find a kindred spirit. Those fears were not realized, and I am so thankful that I am starting to build solid friendships with an amazing group of fellow educators here. This week (2 weeks ago now that I am in the editing phase), I am thankful that we had an impromptu dinner party/trip planning/Christmas tree lighting party on Tuesday night and that tonight we are having a Thanksgiving potluck. This year has taught me that the world is full of people to love.
Technology – This is a weird one coming from someone so out of touch with modern conveniences, but I am so in awe of the way that technology has shrunk the world. Even though I am a world away from home, communication couldn’t be easier.
Literacy – I am so thankful that I learned to read and write early, and that I love it. Books have opened the world to me, and my quest to live abroad and explore all the corners was born early in my love for literature. The fact that I could make this passion a career is even better.
Vacation time – I know that there are certainly moments that I complain about being a teacher, but really, we have the best schedule in the world. I am learning to value time off more than ever now that it means I get to explore a part of the globe that is new and fascinating and charming. While I didn’t always have enough money at home to enjoy types of vacations I get to take now, I am thankful that I have always had time to invest in family and friends.
My helper – I never thought that I would be someone who hired a cleaning lady, but I am, and she makes my life infinitely better. My time away from work is no longer consumed by basic life chores. Trang treats me so well, and I always sigh in appreciation and wonder when I open my door Tuesday and Thursday evenings and life is just perfect.
Health – I feel so thankful that I am healthy enough to enjoy life and be active.
Biking – I am really thankful that I relearned how to ride a bike this year and that I am gaining confidence as I pedal around town on my sweet new wheels. I am thankful that I have other teachers to ride home with most days after our workouts and that the weather is nice enough to bike to school year round.
The list could go on and on, but let’s be honest about how long after Thanksgiving it is since I got this far. I think I better hit publish and move on to telling you about my latest adventures in DaLat, a mountain town that I am very thankful exists so close to where I live.