I love my family. I love them so much that loving them over logic became a detriment to my health. There isn’t a family that is perfect. I recognize that. Over the course of this blog, you’ll begin to understand my paradigm shift, the guilt that I struggle with, and the lessons that I continue to learn. I concluded that letting go doesn’t mean that I love my family any less. Letting go isn’t a physical expression but more of an emotional process. I continue witnessing a lot of talent in my family fall by the wayside. I see their fears and anxiety smothering them. It’s hard to watch. It’s like looking at a toddler learning to walk with scissors, and you can’t take the scissors away.
The Time that I Missed Thanksgiving
I have a tremendous amount of love for my family, therefore when I see them in pain or struggling it eats away at me. There has been a lot of unnecessary suffering in my family. In the few months before I left Thailand, I saw a therapist. One of the issues that we worked on was dismantling some of the beliefs that I had about my family. That experience helped me to clarify a lot and come to grips with the truth. Everyone has their personal pain story. My family continues to struggle with narratives that no longer serve them. The topic of family is a very delicate topic for many, and many of us may at times feel behooved to them because they are family. But all relationships need boundaries. Boundaries help to maintain our emotional health.
I didn’t make it to Thanksgiving this year; this was my first Thanksgiving without my family. Although this isn’t an official holiday in Haiti, we have been celebrating it since we emigrated to the United States. For some cultures it’s Thanksgiving all of the time as sharing meals together is a form of intimacy. For example, the Thai people consider their meals as “happy hour” that stretches out for hours at a time. With some cultures, food isn’t simply something that you pick up and eat on the move. Not a lot of cultures eat on the run. While I lived in the States, I found myself on many occasions eating on the run, and in my car!
Our Thanksgiving in Massachusetts is well-known. The phone rings incessantly for weeks at a time. People would ask us, “When, where, what time, and what should I bring?” It’s a gathering that extends beyond family and into friendships with strangers. We welcomed anyone that came through our doors. I remember the very first time that we had Thanksgiving without any adult supervision. I was ten years old. It was just my cousins and I. We decided to have our Thanksgiving dinner the day after Thanksgiving; this gave many of our friends an opportunity to join us.
My aunt began picking up extra shifts during Thanksgiving, so we were left to our own devices. We would first help my aunt cook in the morning, and then we would set the table. That evening we turned Thanksgiving into a blockbuster party! Honestly, when I think about it, we should’ve charged people at the door! It became a bashment! The word bashment is a Caribbean term for a wild and crazy-ass party.
We must’ve had at least 20 kids in our home. The music was loud. The dancehall reggae was raging through the speakers. Everyone was on the wall grinding and being lewd. It was a straight up house party! One day though my aunt came home earlier than expected. We thought she was going to flip out, but she was friendly. It became a tradition for many years to come that we would have Thanksgiving the day after. Every year Thanksgiving would be at my Aunt I’s house until my cousin S bought a house.
We would spend all night prepping and helping my cousin prepare Thanksgiving dinner. We hated each other in the midst of preparation. It was exhausting: from the cutting, the dicing and the seasoning (but we weren’t exhausted from the tasting). The cleaning though was horrific. Over the years my cousin D started to create his infamous red and white sangria. He would soak the sangria for at least two days with premium top liquor and wines. He would add fresh, delicious fruits and limes to balance the taste.
Attending one of our Thanksgiving’s was a big thing. People would bring their Tupperware and fill it up at the end of the night. Many times, we had Thanksgiving it would turn into a full-blown house party. Other times, we would talk until the sun came up. I would drink too much as always. Then the jokes would out faster than I could pour a new glass of sangria! Then, I would eat like a gluttonous animal and lay down in regret because of an unbearably full stomach.
This year my sister M and my cousin S sent me video messages from folks wishing me a happy Thanksgiving. Here’s a video below of our friend R sending me well wishes. R and I always fight over the last piece of lamb.
It was the most heartfelt gesture ever! I was able to FaceTime everyone. Although I missed my family this year at Thanksgiving, I still wouldn’t change a thing. I would still be here, exploring Thailand and other countries. There’s nothing more crucial than getting out of your environment. I don’t believe in remaining static. Hence, why my son is studying college in Florida and not closer to home in Massachusetts. When one decides to step outside of one’s comfort zone consistently, one will reap the benefits of a strengthened social growth and increased emotional intelligence. I firmly believe this.
When one continues to stretch oneself, there is no going back. That’s a great thing. In the small town that I grew up in, I’ve known people who have never left, even if it means just to live one city or town over. There is no judgment. People work through life at their pace. But experiences beyond what’s familiar helps you to grow. The one begins to see the world with new lenses.
As I get older and continue to make many changes in my life, I realize that I am less attached to traditions. Being a Libra, I look forward to new experiences. I am hoping that my family comes to visit me soon. Together, we can have new experiences and
Which tradition would you miss if you were living abroad? What are some things that you are or have learned about with your relationships with your family? And if you are living abroad currently what are your thoughts about tradition and family? I would love to hear from you!
Lessons that I’ve learned:
- Leave the nest, even if it’s just for a little while. If nothing else you can always return home.
- Loving myself is loving my family.
- Boundaries are necessary for everyone, including family.
- Despite being homesick, and experiencing some level of discomfort, I’m sticking with being abroad and I hope to change into better versions of myself.