Eggs, Butter, Flour, Sugar, Vanilla, and Family

Last night I made one of many batches of sugar cookies. In my family, it's a BIG tradition. It seems that every year about a bazillion or so cookies are baked, iced, and decorated. In fun shapes like santas, bells, Christmas trees, stars, angels, and gingerbread men. (We have a fun game where we decorate some gingerbread men to be anatomically correct :P)

I've been struggling with the Away-From-Home-Christmas blues lately....pretty strongly, in fact, and I needed something to cheer me up and help me feel like I wasn't so incredibly far away from home. I have been sharing my Christmas traditions with my staff and co-workers, in exchange for their Christmas traditions, and I've trying to look at this as an experience of a lifetime....Imagine, spending Christmas 15,000km away from home, in a foreign culture, and amazingly beautiful country. What an adventure. Don't get me wrong....I know I am blessed and I know I am lucky for this opportunity.

But some days... okay, most days over the past week or so... the adventure side of things hasn't really been enough to keep me from being sad about missing my family. So, next up on the agenda was making sugar cookies. What a better way to get into the festive mood?

I'll admit, there were some points during the sugar-cookie-baking process where I nearly teared up, but (surprisingly), I didn't. I started and stopped a few times, making excuses that I didn't have the stuff that I needed, that I was too tired, or that I just didn't feel like it.....

But some how, they got made.

It was very different making sugar cookies without my family (also, I had no measuring cup, an oven with only Chinese instructions/buttons, no cookie cutters, and no cookie sheet!), but they turned out to be a success. They are currently in the freezer waiting to be iced and decorated. I'm going to make a few more batches and then hand them out to some of my Malagasy and Expat friends over the holidays. I'm especially looking forward to giving some out to my Malagasy friends and explaining the history behind them.

So....last night I went to bed smelling like vanilla, butter, and sugar. And I felt pretty proud of myself for trying to do something to get myself out of my Christmas blues.

This morning, I got some truly sad news. Two of my co-workers lost one of their parents over the weekend. This is very tragic news, especially because one of them is from the Philippians and she won't get home for a few days.

I was able to catch my Filipino collegue before she left, I gave her a quick hug and told her how sorry I was for her loss. As I choked back tears, I felt speechless, but somehow I managed to try and stay positive, telling her that she will be with her family very soon, and that I hoped that she was kind to herself and that I would be thinking about her over the holidays. She is in for a very, very rough Christmas. Her mother is passed away, so it just her and her brother. She is a very, very kind person, and I was surprised to realize how much I cared about her and her well being. I guess things like that can sneak up on you.

So while I'm thinking about my holidays and being sad that I'm not with my family, I am at the very least comforted to know, that they are on the other side of the world thinking about me, and that I'll see them in March, and that they are just a phone call or an email away.... and doing just fine.

So this year, even though I'm not celebrating the holidays together, the fact that we'll get to see each other in a few months, is something to be amazingly thankful for.

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