every once in a while i think of our move to thailand and what it’s cost. not monetarily – that’s too depressing – but more of what the trade has been (which is slightly more depressing). the value of one rich cultural experience vs. another rich cultural experience, because i do consider the culture of family to be one of great value.
my memories of growing up include so many that are flooded with family. i lived very close to extended family. easter, thanksgiving, christmas, birthdays, random sundays, and many summer days were frequently spent with my great grandmother, grandparents, great aunts and great uncles, my mom’s cousins and their kids. and those memories are wonderful. even though it’s been several years since i’ve experienced a holiday with so many relatives i couldn’t keep track of them all, that’s how i remember them. and that’s what i know we’ve caused our children to miss. that deeply rich experience of knowing and being known by generations of your people.
i think i feel it most deeply every year at thanksgiving.
as we recreate american thanksgiving in a foreign country i’m conscious of wanting for my kids the kind of thanksgiving we had in america. the one where you know who’s coming and what they will bring, because it’s the same thing they bring every year and it would be sacrilegious for them to bring anything different. the kind where you create the sort of memories and inside jokes that become a language spoken only by you and those who experienced them. like the year i flicked whip cream into my mom’s cousin’s husband’s face for no reason whatsoever. and, now, anytime i see pumpkin pie with a dollop of whip cream i’m immediately taken back all those years ago. those memories are priceless. and i wouldn’t trade them for anything.
i can’t count the times i’ve patted myself on the back for being the kind of parent who takes their kids abroad. and just as many times i’ve thought, “man, i wish my parents had done the same for me.” but, when i sit down and really think about what that would have meant – living away from our family, not having the opportunity to know and be known by them, i’m not so sure i really wish my parents had done the same.
don’t get me wrong, i’m not regretting our move. i struggle thinking of someday moving back to the states. but… in a perfect world, there are sacrifices this move would not have cost and spending holidays without family is one of them.