Earlier this month I was asked to write a guest post for the Expat Loop blog! Yeah! Being that the holidays are quickly approaching, I wanted to share my story here on Morning Kawa as well. I think it may help you think a bit differently this year. So here it is:
As you know, I currently live in Wroclaw, Poland which has enabled me to meet people from all over the world: France, Sweden, South Africa, Ethiopia, really anywhere – you name it and someone from there probably lives here in Wroclaw! It’s been a great way to open my eyes to traditions and customs beyond that of the US. However, the story that has most opened my eyes is a fairly recent one and I can’t wait to share it with you to maybe open yours during this upcoming holiday season…
…One of my best friends is moving to India next month from America on an expat assignment. While I was at lunch one day here in Wroclaw, someone from India joined our table. In the spirit of starting a conversation and thinking of my friend moving to his home country, I asked him, “What should my friend bring to India when she moves there?”
“Just bring an open mind.”
And that was it. Topic over. He didn’t say anything about bringing pots and pans, towels, your favorite makeup. Nope, none of that. Just an open mind. And in that simple phrase, I thought about what a perfect response that was. Not just for my friend moving to India, but to anyone moving abroad, traveling to a new country, or just visiting a new neighborhood down the street. Wow. So simple yet it applies to so many contexts – including that of the holidays.
During the holidays, we are so stuck in our own traditions that it is hard to want to start new ones. Sometimes that makes us blind and we begin to focus on what we can’t have where we are verses what we do. For example, here in Poland, we had a hard time finding a whole turkey for Thanksgiving – we were so obsessed with this idea that we searched high and low for weeks to find this turkey to ensure our Thanksgiving ‘tradition’ continued.
But if we’re being honest, there is plenty of ham here on every corner. Would it have been the end of the world to serve ham instead of a whole turkey? No. But we didn’t want to change our tradition. When in reality, being away during the holidays is already so far from the typical Thanksgiving tradition that serving ham could have been our new routine here in Poland. We still would have had great friends gathered that we are so thankful for. No questions asked, that would not have changed regardless of what we served.
So all that said, here is my challenge to you this holiday season: Don’t become consumed by what you don’t have where you’re living. This year, just bring an open mind to the table and let the new traditions form. Who knows. You might even like them better. This is your chance to find out. Embrace it.