Home for the Holidays

Though when I initially moved abroad I thought I would only ever return home for summer, there was no way that I could miss Christmas in the States this year. Over summer vacation, I was lucky enough to reunite with a friend that I had a crush on for years, and somehow, I convinced him to date me from the longest possible distance. So, in addition to all the excitement of seeing my family and friends and eating loads of sugary treats, I was motivated to endure the long flight home to see my super cute boyfriend.

My first stop was Philadelphia where my beloved college besties, Rachel and Bess, were waiting to pick me up and take me to Rachel’s house for the annual Holiday Gala. We got in some good girl talk time, I went grocery shopping with Matt, and I took a nap before Eli and the other party guests arrived.

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I love these ladies – missing you, Kate. 

After the Gala, Rachel drove me to Christyn and Jason’s to spend a couple of days with the newlyweds, and Christyn took off on Monday to do her holiday shopping and hang out with me. Though jet lag prevented me from being the most entertaining of guests, I was thankful to be reunited with my beloved cousin.

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Outdoor Christmas market in Philly

After a couple of days, I caught a train home to Lewistown and got to spend 4 days of Christmas with the family. Though Julia was disappointed not to get a real unicorn, I think we all had a really nice holiday complete with lots of games and food. The house seemed quiet without Derek’s crew adding to the chaos. It is true though that there is no place like home.

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Christmas morning with the artist, Grant.

Then, I left home to spend a weekend in Baltimore trying close distance dating. I discovered I liked it. Eli introduced me to Star Wars, took lots of long walks around Baltimore with me, and took me to eat all of my favorite foods around the city. After my sleepover with friends from Vietnam, he came to dinner with the girls and participated in a torturous cracker eating contest. While he worked, I lunched with former colleagues, read, and took lots of naps. We spent New Year’s Eve with friends watching fireworks from a rooftop deck.

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Reunited with my crazy friend Rita. 

The following weekend, we returned to central PA for Eli to meet my family and for me to see some aunts, uncles and cousins that I missed on my first 4 day tour. This was also Eli’s chance to meet Penn State. While I am not sure he is quite as charmed as I am, he was supportive of my deep and abiding love for Alma. He even agreed to do a Collegian crossword puzzle with me and pose atop the Lion Shrine.

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So many of my favorite things!

After our weekend away, the few days left before my flight seemed to fly by as I tried to finish some life and school chores and see friends and family. On Tuesday night, we got to meet my newest niece, Abigail.

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Showing off her weird alien hands. Babies are scary, but this one is cute, too. 

Now, I am halfway back to Vietnam. My heart is full of happy Christmas memories, and I will be excited to return to America in June. But before then, I have lots of exciting living to do! Hopefully, I will find a little time to blog about all my adventures.

Happy 2016!

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