Since I’m abroad, I unfortunately had to miss my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving 😦 So I’m going to make you all a list about the things I’m thankful for because 1) I am thankful and 2) I like lists. ***WARNING! THIS IS AN INCREDIBLY SAPPY POST!!!!***
Despite missing Thanksgiving, I honestly had the best Thanksgiving away from home I could have had…. Except I had it on the day after Thanksgiving, because I was busy studying for a test (which I got a 96 on, thank you very much!) and writing a mini-paper. BUT! it was still wonderful.
I managed to stay up late enough on my Thanksgiving in order to Skype with my fam back home, just in time for Thanksgiving breakfast! It was perfect. I love my family and I loved that I talked with them for so long, it was almost as if I was actually at the kitchen table eating breakfast with them. They even fed me bacon and everything. AREN’T WE ADORABLE?! ❤
Seriously, best family ever. And so here we go, starting with the things I’m thankful for…
- These guys. Like, let’s be serious, they’re cute and awesome and I couldn’t ask for a better, more supportive family.
- The fact that they are just super chill with me traveling and whatnot, and they aren’t even weirded out by the fact that I’m missing Christmas… for the second time. Yeah, it’s kind of weird, but we’re gonna make up Christmas when I get back, so it’ll be totally worth it. Mom’s gonna keep the tree up and everything (riiighhhhhhttt?!??!) And I’m STOKED.
- I’m thankful for my hometown. This is not something I say nearly often enough. In fact, I’m usually more inclined to make fun of or criticize where I’m from, but I need to just take a second to own up to the fact that YES, I am from a small little itty bitty town in the middle of nowhere in Illinois, but I love it. It’s where I grew up and it’s where I call home and it’s a place I know like the back of my hand, near and dear to my heart. “Why are you getting all sentimental about this, Lauren? You usually don’t care so much about your hometown!” Why yes imaginary questioner, thank you for asking! I will tell you why!
If you haven’t heard (and you probably haven’t if you aren’t from near/around my hometown), there was an F4 tornado that passed through Washington, Illinois. A town not 10 minutes away from my hometown, Morton, and the town that my father grew up in. And a town that many family friends and acquaintances live in. And it wasn’t just any old tornado… it was a big one 😦 Here’s a photograph of just how big it was, one that’s been circulating the internet for a while:
This happened just a few weeks before Thanksgiving, and it couldn’t’ve been more of a wake-up call for me when I found out about it. I woke up at about 7am one morning, checked Facebook on my phone, and was absolutely shocked to see some of the images I saw. My heart just about jumped out of my chest thinking that my family might have somehow been affected, but was calmed once I got a text from my mom, saying they were without power but OK. I couldn’t believe what had happened.
And then shortly after that, I found out that a classmate of mine from high school had passed away (in an unrelated incident).
I’m not sure if any of you have felt this way before, but at that moment I wanted nothing more than to be at home with my family in Morton, even though most of the people I knew affected by all of these tragedies were just acquaintances; I felt like just going around the community, just being there, to somehow express that I love and care about all of those people and their families and I have so much sympathy for how they are feeling, because none of that should have to happen to a community; people so young and joyful and good shouldn’t have to pass away; perfectly kind and loving people shouldn’t have to lose their homes and literally everything they own.
I had a rough week that week. It’s hard to pay attention to things right in front of you when things like that are going on back at home. It was tough.
But a few days later, I started seeing how the cleanup efforts were going. People from all over the state were jumping in their cars to go volunteer; others were organizing donations, spaghetti suppers, concerts and benefits; and local businesses, including my mother’s, were giving all sorts of offers and donations to those who had lost everything. And it really made me proud. I am so proud to be from a community like that.
Not that I don’t think any other community would do the same—I’m sure they would. But just directly seeing people you know and love and care about being so open and loving and giving is just so cool. I know this is weird and sappy, but it’s true. As much as I missed being home and wanted to go back just for a day or two, I was also just so proud to call Central Illinois my home. Because those are some freaking awesome people. I’m proud to be from a place full of people with such ginormous hearts.
- I’m also just plain super super super thankful for the people I’ve met here in China.
- I’m also thankful for the freaking amazing Thanksgiving celebration we managed to have! On our Friday after Thanksgiving day, we had the most wonderful Thanksgiving get together. Everyone brought something for our potluck – we had stuffing, mashed potatoes (like 3 different kinds!), apple crisp, chili, a really freaking amazing makeshift green bean casserole, fruit salad (with STRAWBERRIES!), and even a TURKEY!!!!!!! I bought cupcakes to share with everyone. It was deliciously fantastic and even gave us the sleepies, which is pretty much the point of Thanksgiving. I had a super super nice time just chilling, eating, and talking with everyone and just enjoying being in the here and now. Here are some photos from the evening:
Lots and lots of good times had by all that evening – I felt so at home 🙂
- Of course, I can’t finish this post without mentioning how thankful I am for my Chinese class (the last picture, above). At the beginning of the semester, I never would have guessed that we’d be so close by the end, but we are basically like a family. We’ve all learned so much from each other I think (and not just because we’re in the same Chinese class), and our class honestly has the most fun dynamic (us in combination with our teacher, Gao Laoshi, is just simply the best). I also love that we can all just talk to each other in English OR Chinese, no problem – it’s probably just as efficient in either language haha. To show you how awesome our class is, you’ll have to watch our class video. We just got done shooting for it, kind of like a final project for Chinese, and I can’t WAIT to get it edited and uploaded to Youtube to show everyone. CAN’T WAIT. It will go on the blog, and we will put subtitles so you know what’s going on in it. Just wait for it.
- And finally… I must say, I am just so stinkin’ thankful for this experience! Just the opportunity to live in China.. and man what an adventure it has been! I can’t believe how long I’ve been here… and I can’t believe the semester is nearly over. I literally knew NOTHING about China before I came here, and now it all just seems so commonplace. It’s a really cool feeling. I’m so excited to live it up these next few weeks and finish out strong. But I definitely don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave these freaking amazing human beings that are so cool and I get to hang out with on a daily basis! But I also want to see my friends back home! Can you get nostalgic for things before they’re gone?? Saudade? Ugh 😦
But really, I have so much to be thankful for. This entire list and more and more. It’s so easy to sit and complain and whine about all the things that you don’t have in life, but honestly! Make a list or two like this describing the things you’re thankful for and you’ll feel pretty freakin’ lucky. I sure do.