This Thanksgiving, from a distance.

Today is Thanksgiving Day back home, so although it isn’t celebrated here in Scotland (and therefore I still have a full day of school today and a cell biology presentation to give tomorrow), I still want to celebrate in some way or another. I guess this blog post will be my attempt at doing just so. (And we’ll just ignore the fact that this is the first one I’ve written in months. Shh.. I’m a vet student.)

To start off with, I’ll admit outright: I’m not thrilled that the holiday season has arrived. I’m not feeling particularly festive; in fact, those  five words (starting and ending, funnily enough, with the words “I’m” and “festive”) could very well be the greatest understatement on this blog so far.

To clarify: I’m not the Christmas Grinch (that annually mandatory role filled by at least one disgruntled individual each winter). I have always loved glowing lights and reindeer and carols and Christmas trees and the (somewhat two-faced) romance of glittering snow. My problem this year stems partially from these affections–I’m a sentimental person, and I miss what I’ve had for so many years. I miss the thrill of slobbering over the golden turkey approaching the table; the excitement of driving home with a big fat tree teetering on top of the Honda Odyssey; the nostalgic dig through the box of toilet paper-wrapped ornaments; the sneaky wrapping of more-sneakily stashed gifts before stowing them nicely in such a place that basically guarantees the tangling of sticky pine needles in one’s hair and down the neck of one’s sweater; the half-tipsy struggles with the camera self-timer in order to document the gathering of sooo many friends (and then our absolute inability to stay upright until midnight, thanks to our “old age” and tasty beverages); and yes, even that inevitable morning that involves bundling up first thing in the morning to trample outside and shovel cold, heavy, wet snow in a shivering, soggy form of familial solidarity while waxing poetic about how “brisk” and “serene” everything is after a fresh snowfall (although I always felt more “serene” when I was less “brisk”, afterwards with a mug of hot chocolate).

I really, truly miss the guarantee of getting to spend quality time with the family and friends of whom I have grown so fond in the past two decades or so.

And that brings us to where I am now, today, away from home on Thanksgiving, and looking ahead to the next month and some of festive calendar days in a similar context.

As I stomped my way this Scottish grey morning across the ever-wet and ancient cobblestones leading across the street to the bus stop, I found myself repeating “I’m grateful, I’m grateful,” over the cello that serenaded from the trusty iPod my family gave me one Christmas years ago.

And you know what? I really am. I’m grateful to be in beautiful, old Edinburgh attending a prestigious vet school that takes care of its students as well as their education. I’m grateful to be returning at the end of each day to a flat made not-so-empty by a loving new husband. And I am so exceedingly grateful to have such a loving circle of family and friends to miss so very badly, on these special days and every day in between. Life is made by those you love and those who love you, and I’m extremely lucky to have plenty of that to go around. Sure, I might be a bit worse for wear at this very moment, but the unconditional caring and support I have grown to know throughout the years are worth the nostalgia. So bring on the exams, and bring on the holidays: I’ll keep my own brand of sentimental celebration, because you all have made life very much worth living well.

Happy Thanksgiving, every one! I love you all so much.

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