December 23, 2016 – January 2, 2017
S U R P R I S E !! . . . Well it was a surprise for the Mitchells this Christmas when I showed up at the front door one day before Christmas Eve. I had planned and booked this trip home in September when my grandma passed away and when the homesickness really set in. I had begun the day-by-day countdown, especially after Megan and Ryan left in November. My friends knew I was coming home, obviously, since they picked me up from the airport. I even managed to keep the secret from my sister when she was here visiting.
When I left in March I had no intention of coming home for a visit within the year, but this was when I thought I was only staying one year … ha.
It was EXTREMELY hard to not tell Mom and Dad on our weekly Sunday Skype dates, especially when I was feeling sad or when Mom would start to talk about Christmas plans. Keeping the secret was totally worth the surprise.
There were a couple of times where I nearly spilt the beans, one being right before I caught my flight out of Abu Dhabi and Mom wanted to Skype.
I flew from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam, where I had a six hour stopover and then from there directly to the white winter wonderland, Calgary.
My girl friends picked me up from the airport, and actually had perfect timing despite the snow storm that hit the city that afternoon. With Santa hats on, a bouquet of flowers and a sign in their hands it was a very warm welcome!!
Of course, the highlight of the whole trip home was the big SURPRISE <—- take one minute to watch 😀
There was the big surprise (seen above) and then surprising Dad. I had to go out and get my rental car before 5PM . . . then drive back in the snow :\ I was home in time to give Scott a surprise too!
family before catching up with friends … Well it was family time only after I met my friends the night I arrived to go have a caesar and socialize hehe.
Normally, I don’t get overly excited about Christmas. My preferred holiday is Thanksgiving (which is like Christmas without the gifts and snow [usually no snow]). This year was different and actually really had a deeper meaning towards family and friends than the material part of the holiday. One thing I can remember from this Christmas, though, was my jet lag – I was EXHAUSTED and could barely keep my eyes open for turkey dinner.
Once Christmas ended it was full steam ahead with visiting friends and being out and about. I keep in touch with friends through texts, Snap Chat, Facebook and Skype, but none are quite the same as sitting down and talking face to face. I did some authentic Canadian things like skating in -15 degree weather and the other “normal-life” things like eating out and watching movies. I went to my old work and saw my coworkers and I got big news about a best friends pregnancy. Some news isn’t meant for Skype!!
Time to ring in 2017! An excuse to dress up and wear strappy heels in 6cm of snow 🙂 No goals made this year, no resolutions to change myself or stop a bad habit. We just enjoyed the night out with each other.
The best part of New Years Eve was the next day and just hanging out with my friends watching tv and eating A&W (finally fixed that craving).
I spent the evening at home, packing and relaxing.
My flight was at 3:00pm the next day. I slept in (alone, in my own bed, in my own room. There is a story along with this, so if you’d like to hear it, just message me … can’t write it here because of the fear of my sister 😉 BUT I should say that I did pay $50 for that final night). Went over and said my goodbyes to my friend and her family.
We headed to the airport early to drop off the car rental and sat in Tim Hortons with the family (excluding Scott). Did the dreaded goodbye, tried to make it short and sweet and made sure they didn’t hover around security so when I looked back I wouldn’t see my family standing there sadly and start my flood of tears over again.
If it’s possible, it was easier to leave Calgary after an amazing visit home than it was to leave initially back in March. I am coming home in July for my best friends wedding, so the countdown to returning started before I was in the air.
My travel back to Abu Dhabi was tiring, after 18 hours of flights and airports and knowing I had to work the next day, I was completely exhausted. My warm (both weather wise and emotionally) welcome back to Abu Dhabi helped the post-home blues!
Looking back, I believe that my timing on my trip home was perfect. I was beginning to fizzle out a little here and was getting quite homesick, especially with it being the holidays. Talking with my friends and with people I ran in to that I haven’t spoken to in years (but follow on Facebook) when I was home changed my attitude on living abroad. The low times here are very low, it’s the lack of close support network you’re used to that makes things a little harder to handle. Speaking with people and hearing how much they admire (#humblebrag) what I’ve done and where I’ve been, made me realize that I am truly lucky to be doing what I’m doing here. I think it was these conversations that made it slightly easier to step back on to that airplane.