What a whirlwind of emotions this past week has been. From arriving to my Cluj-Napoca, my favorite city so far in Romania, to meeting with friends, baking more gingerbread cookies, caroling from late night into early morning, I suppose you can say my schedule has been hectic and constantly moving– not that I mind. After all, this is part of what I came here for. Blasting Christmas music and baking gingerbread cookies, mixing up the recipes to make one of our own. Going to another friend’s house and drinking tea, catching up on basically everything and exchanging exciting life events which are happening. Game nights which go on until well after midnight. Caroling from the early night well into the early morning. Sharing stories with other family members and showing each other pictures of who looks like what and how everyone is doing on the other side of the world.. It’s the simple things in life which make me perfectly happy. And it’s moments like those that I live for.
Through the tumultuous activities and visiting family after family, I realized how much I really did miss my family back in America; my parents, brother, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends I would typically celebrate the Christmas season with. It was the second night of caroling; snow was softly falling from the sky when I stopped and simply breathed, taking it all in. Behind me was the laughter of many new friends I made while minutes earlier we were singing carols to a home who gave us yet another round of prajituri (probably our 37th plate that night). The line from the Pentatonix song “That’s Christmas To Me” kept playing over and over in my head… “The only gift I’ll ever need is the joy of family.” Family. The Christmas season is usually spent with family, yet I decided to leave my parents behind and spend a cold, white, wintery Christmas in Romania with my sister. I missed them dearly, but I’ve come to the realization that the more I miss them, the more thankful I am to have them and cherish the time I spend with them. They have given me so much and made sacrifices I won’t ever learn about simply because they love me. Their love, unconditional love to even my selfish acts, reflects and reveals God’s love to me constantly. For this, I can’t ever thank them enough.
Train rides, car rides, bus rides. Our sources of transport to see our family. How blessed I am to be able to travel the world and still have a place to call “home”.. I do suppose, however, that home isn’t a building or structure where you live or where you make your memories. Home is the people you have in your heart, no matter how far you may be from them. Home is knowing wherever you are, wherever you have been, you still have them to go to, regardless of need, regardless of anything else, because home is the people in your heart who love you.