Last year was, without a doubt, the worst Christmas ever. For every single one of the previous 22 years, Christmas morning was spent in the living room with my family. We woke up early (usually thanks to the encouragement of my sister), nibbled on some food for breakfast, and took turns opening presents together.
But last year I spent Christmas in Japan and, for the first time in my life, I woke up, put on my suit, and went into the office on Christmas Day. It wasn't particularly different from any other work day, but knowing what a special day for family I was missing out on was really tough. In fact, I would have no problem saying it was hands down the single worst day in my first year in Japan.
There was no way I was going to let that happen again, so by early January I was already starting to make plans to come home this year. I first mentioned it to my boss sometime in April, to which he just laughed. I reminded him in July, then again in August after he had just got back from visiting his own family in California. Every time I was told it was ok - as long as I didn't have any work. I bought my tickets in the fall and made sure that for every project I was involved in, there was someone who would be able to cover for me while I was gone. Nothing was going to stop me.
After more than 12 hrs on a plane, covering more than 7,000 miles, I was finally home and, as planned, Christmas morning went exactly the way it always had. I couldn't have asked for more. There is just something calming and heart warming about spending Christmas with family and I don't know that anything can ever replace that. I know I won't be able to spend every Christmas like this, especially while I'm living in Japan, but it's certainly something I would like to do as much as possible.
More than birthdays or holidays or really any other day of the year, Christmas is a truly special day to be with those you love. I hope that everyone was able to spend today with friends and family, and that you appreciate how truly blessed you are to have those people in your life. Merry Christmas everyone!