Monday, December 2, 2013

Nostalgia

Nostalgia hits us early in the morning, around 5:15 when the sun is rising over the mountains and the air is crisp at about 57°, coffee is brewing and I ask my son to plug in the Christmas tree. He is quick to ask me, “Am I going to school today, Mommy?” Max, our 4 year old, keeps asking us if he is going back to school today; and we keep telling him, “Not today, no school for Christmas Holidays & Summer Break”. Anyone who has kids knows Christmas break can be as fun and exciting as summer break, especially for kids whom have never experienced it before. But trying to grasp a summer break in December is daunting for me, too. I am barely grasping the idea of summer being in what I always thought of as winter. When we moved our family from Texas to Costa Rica, we researched the education system and school options thoroughly, learning about the differences and what to expect as foreign parents.  We understood we might need to put our children in private school, since the public schools do not have certain necessities like books, computers, and substitute teachers. If the teacher is ill, there is no class. We understood all schools would vary languages, some speaking little or no English and some private schools teaching half the curriculum in English and the other half in Spanish. We understood we would be translating the teacher – parent notices, considering we have not mastered the Spanish language yet. We understood the school year begins February 1st and ends just before Thanksgiving for “Summer Break”. At the time, we thought nothing of it, just go with the flow. Now that we are beginning our “Summer Break” in December, we are reminded daily just how different things are in Costa Rica. Different is good. While I am visiting Facebook, the folks back home are wearing scarves & jackets and showing pictures of their fireplaces, talking about snow in Dallas and 27° weather. We are enjoying afternoon breezes with little or no rain and planning our weekly trip to the beach. Go figure? There is no shortage on holiday cheer here either. Ticos have been decorating for Christmas since October; it is just a tropical style Christmas. Nostalgia hits again when Max asks if he is going to school tomorrow. I never thought I would be explaining to him that he is out of school for 2 whole months for Summer Break, in December. It seems like the more I breathe in our new surroundings, the more I remember Texas, and how different our life is now. Max starts going through his weekdays, “Am I going to school mañana?  Am I going to school Martes? Miércoles? Thursday, Friday??” This is great! I am speaking Spanish with my bilingual son and loving our new home in Atenas, Costa Rica while thinking of Texas looking at our Christmas tree during summer break. It is a lot to take in, but it is great! Not wrong, just different. I hear so many people saying expats get culture shock and don’t stay long. I can’t imagine going back to Texas because the journey thus far has been so enlightening. 
If you would have asked me what I would be doing today, 5 years ago, I would not have answered “living in Costa Rica, celebrating Christmas during a Summer holiday with my 4 year old.” We had a big house and lots of bills and we worked all the time to keep up with it. After our second child was born, we decided to consider an International move, if only to slow down and spend more time together as a family. We understood this would be a life changing journey, towing 2 small children along for the ride. This is our first Christmas summer abroad and we are expecting our 3rd child in February. I would not change a thing. I am so glad we did something that many people thought we were crazy for doing. Now that I am an expat, I can honestly look back and remember the way things used to be and sip my coffee and look forward to the way things are now. We made a difference in our lives and, no matter how different things are, we are growing our family in the happiest place on Earth

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