Thursday, December 29, 2011

Going Home for Christmas

(note: written from the plane from Atlantic City, NJ to Fort Lauderdale, FL)

There are crimes of omission. Guilty as charged. I failed to mention to my readers that I would be venturing home to the United States for Christmas. Although I am sure that most of my loyal readers actually knew I was coming home because they saw me (aka my readers are my close family and friends). But still I failed to make public that I would be returning home for the holidays. Why? It seems like something I would want to celebrate and announce to everyone out of shear excitement and happiness. Well the truth of the matter is that I felt (and still feel) quite a bit of guilt and shame in my decision to go home and I really did not want to admit that to the world. However, I pride myself on being honest and “real” on this blog, so here I am.

There are a variety of reasons why I have (had) these negative feelings associated with returning home for Christmas. Here they are in list format:

1. Returning home to the United States so early in my service (6 months in)

2. Using a good chunk of money to do so

3. Using vacation time

4. Leaving my community and new home for over a week and for the holiday

5. Missing out on celebrating with my family in El Salvador and experiencing a new culture

6. Worrying about what my community thinks about it.

7. Worrying about what other volunteers think about it

8. Worrying about what people at home think about it.

9. Dealing with readjusting again

10. Forcing family and friends at home (especially my mother) to say goodbye again.

I am sure that I could think of more reasons but those are the ones that come to mind first. Also, it feels nice to list the perfect 10, so I will leave it at that. I guess the question now becomes how did I rationalize going home? Once again in list format:

1. I love Christmas

2. I love my birthday (Christmas Eve)

3. I love celebrating these holidays with my family and friends

4. When else am I going to go home and see everyone? And I mean everyone!

5. I can’t bear the thought of not going.

6. How depressed would I be in El Salvador?

7. I get to bring sweet swag back!

Okay, so I have considerably less reasons to go back home. But the human mind is complex. Also, it really is quality over quantity. Plus just to make myself feel better, I only used 7 vacation days out 24 for the year and I am 6 months into service, it was not that expensive, and luckily most people (Salvadorans and other volunteers and Americans) understand the importance of going home and visiting ones family, especially during the holidays. The main issues I have to face are readjusting and making up for the fact that I missed a holiday and some bonding time with my family in site. But, I am heading back to site for the new year (which some say is more important that Christmas and a bigger deal) so that will help.

So that is why I ended up at home for the holidays. Worth it? Definitely!! I had an amazing time with my family and friends. Thank you all so much for making my week at home so special. I have the best support crew I swear.

*Special shout out to: my mom, Mommom, Julia, Hannah, you guys’ families, Aunt Laurie, Uncle Lee, Nick, Emily, Zoe, Oliver, Grandma Albrecht, Aunt Tana, Uncle Joe, Craig, Michelle, Sarah, Aunt Dana, Uncle Bart, Aunt Karen, Uncle Steve, Aunt Kathy, Uncle Charlie, and my dog Hailey! I loved seeing you guys<3

But this wouldn’t be an honest blog if I didn’t mention that I am still struggling with some guilt and shame (see reasons 1-10). Also, I’d be lying if I said it was easy to get on the plane tonight and return to El Salvador. I cried a little bit after I left my mom and went into the airport. And trust me when I say, I don’t typically cry. It is not that I am sad to go to El Salvador, it is that I am sad to leave America. Life in the states is so much more comfortable. And I am going to miss it: 7 full days of my favorite foods (Grandma’s rolls and red velvet cake being pretty high on the list), coffee, warm showers, my family and friends, relative ease walking down the street, my own language, my home turf, etc. The trip reminded me of how I am so lucky to call America my home.

As lucky as I am to call America my home, I also know that I have my whole life to live there. Even more important, I made a commitment to the Peace Corps, to Upire, to my family and friends in El Salvador ( I can’t wait to see you guys!!!), to my new country, and above all to myself. Vacation over. Time to get to work. And I am heading back to work feeling rejuvenated, happy I spent the holidays at home (and not depressed in El Salvador wishing I had gone home), and ready to start the new year in Upire!

Watch out El Salvador, I am coming back.

Hope your holidays were filled with love and cheer everywhere around the world.



  1. My niece, I love you. Thank you for making the trip home, especially with all of the complex feelings you were (and are) experiencing. Peace be with you. Love, Aunt Laurie

  2. It was great sharing those few days with you. I understand completely the conflicts in your brain. I remember leaving India to come home for 3 weeks thinking 3 weeks would be too long and of course for complicated reasons I never got to return. I often contemplate what my life would have been like if I returned. You have the joy of the responsibility and adventure of being part of Peace Corps and you will surely treasure this all your life. Another 1 1/2 years will fly by too fast. Hope you will always feel as closeby as we feel you are and meanwhile enjoy the love of your host family.Feliz Ano Nuevo. XXX Aunt Karen