What a change a few years makes! I think back to my first Christmas post 3 years ago, and I, for the first time in my life, wasn't really looking forward to the holidays. We had moved to Okinawa just 3 months earlier, and I was pretty much a wreck. This place wasn't home. I had no job. We had no friends, and no church. There was nothing on my mind except being home in Chicago for Christmas and all of the holiday traditions and get-togethers that we were missing out on. It was a difficult time, to say the least. Thankfully, the holiday season is once again something that I look forward to with great anticipation. And while I miss my family more than usual at this time of year, the thought of spending the holidays without them seems bearable and even somewhat normal now. It just goes to show that change is possible, and I know the time apart is going to make me appreciate the Christmases we will have together in the future so much more than ever before. I'd never thought I'd be saying this, but these past couple Christmases in Okinawa have been some of my favorite ever, thanks to our amazing friends who are more like family. I know these are memories that I will miss in years to come.
Again this year, we had almost a whole week of gifts arriving from the States, it seems! Our families are always so generous, and we have so much fun opening gifts from them. I cannot wait to open gifts WITH them this time next year! Here are just a few snapshots from our gift-openings:
|The most surprising thing we unwrapped this year!!|
|Hot chocolate in my favorite mug I got last Christmas|
|Fun new rain boots|
|One of Matt's favorite gifts - a scope for his guns|
|These adorable scuba diver ornaments with our names on them! The girl diver really looks like me with that shell in her hand - God knows I can't stop collecting those things!|
As for Christmas Day, we got together with our favorite people on the island - the Posada's & the Perez's, of course! Lyndsey also had her parents in town, so the festivities were at their house this year. Her parents, Steve & Renee, are awesome, and it felt a little more like a "family Christmas", which was really nice. We had a delicious cheese fondue, prime rib, and pomegranate champagne followed by our annual gift exchange! The guys took a cue from us girls and actually did an exchange of their own this year, which was pretty funny to watch - while the girls exchanged jewelry, pajamas, and cosmetics, the guys exchanged things like machetes, emergency radios, and field trauma kits.... Hahaaa! We ended up chatting the night away with Lyndsey's parents - until our 11:00 curfew that is. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it in on the blog yet, but over the past two months, all US military personnel living in Japan have been on a strict no-consumption-of-alcohol-off-base rule as well as an 11:00 curfew (you must be back on your base by 11:00). Since our friends don't live on the same base as we do, this tends to take the fun out of things a bit, especially around the holidays. However, I think we made the best of things:)
|Our traditional Christmas pajamas!|
|We had to recreate our picture from last year:)|
|Us and Willis|
Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you had a blessed few days with family and friends wherever in the world you may be!