This photo of our son, Brian, and me was taken at Christmas in 2007. It’s still one of my all-time favorite photos.
I’ve been a Scrooge, basically, since then because my heart wasn’t really in it. Our son decided several years ago that in order to really learn Mandarin, he needed to live where it was spoken. He packed up and went to China, attending an American language school there, leaving just before they had a terrible earthquake. He came home, but then went back, this time living in Shanghai.
Then he decided that he wanted to live somewhere more quiet, so he went to Chiang Mai, Thailand. He has made it a point not only to continue learning Mandarin, but also to learn Thai. He participates on a regular basis on an app where people can call in for translations between Mandarin and English and Thai. This allows him to get more and more fluent as he tries to help others.
A friend and his wife joined him in Chiang Mai several years ago. They work together doing computer stuff for various clients in the U.S. Before he left the last time, he set up a secure chat program so that we could leave messages or type at each other real-time. We do that on almost a daily basis. He also set up a program called ‘appear.in’ which he and his friend use in conference calls. We can see each other real-time and talk, like Skype or other similar programs, but MUCH better quality.
It’s been three years since he’s been home. We communicate more than a lot of families who live in the same city, so he hasn’t really seemed a world away, though he gives wonderful hugs, and my ‘hugs bucket’ has been empty for a long time now.
Recently he talked about MAYBE coming home for a visit. I put it out of my mind because a lot can happen in a short space of time, making it impossible – although intentions are the best.
He is actually coming home! We will pick him up at the airport on the 10th of this month!!!! He can stay until January 2nd, when he will fly to see other relatives and good friends before returning to Chiang Mai.
I am definitely feeling the Scrooge in me thawing this year. This morning I got out the two Christmas wreaths I kept after my purge of ‘stuff’ in our home and put them up. I then got out one bag of decorations that I’ve put up in the past, when I wanted to look at least a little bit festive. These are up in the dining area now. (I’ll take some pictures to share a bit later today.)
My husband and I decided that this year we would decorate a Christmas tree and get out all the decorations we haven’t used in years. This means we will need to move furniture in the living room to accommodate the tree – plus haul the huge Tupperware bin of decorations and the tree up from the basement – something we haven’t done in a long time. I’ve decided to wait until our son is home to do the tree, so we can do it together as a family.
As the fact that he has his tickets, and we have a flight arrival time now (the trip from Chiang Mai to here will take a total of 28 hours with layovers, etc) the fact that he’s REALLY coming home is starting to sink in. My heart feels full, plus lighter and lighter. I keep finding myself smiling.
The very best Christmas present we could have – except for when I gave birth to him 40 years ago on Dec. 13th…