You’d think the knowledge that I’ll be moving home soon would eliminate my pesky homesickness right?
I mean, this time next year I’ll be looking forward to a long weekend, the Macys parade, football and leftover cranberries and stuffing. I’ll be cuddled up with my husband and son, possibly watching snow falling outside, enjoying the mini-vacation that preludes December and New Years festivities.
But now, here, in the present, I’m having another autumn devoid of cornstalks and hayrides. No scarecrows, no mounds of little pumpkins and gourds, no rich tapestry of red and gold leaves.
Halloween isn’t an anticipated night of costumes, candy and trick-or-treating.
Thanksgiving doesn’t exist to break the bleak weather with the warm glow of family and gratitude.
This hits me every year around the end of November. This constant lump in my throat, this longing for home.
December in Belgium is a festive month, kicking off with Sinterklaas on the 6th and continuing through Christmas, New Years and often not fully settling back down until the end of January.
Those days are full of spiced wine, rich foods, sweet treats, outdoor Christmas markets (which I adore), and overall good cheer. Those are the days I’ll probably miss in America where repetetive music, gaudy lights and commercialism have redefined “holiday spirit.”
But now, here, in the present, I stare out the window, imagining my family: my mother spending the whole day preparing the turkey, my father cleaning the house for the guests, my brother and sister-in-law, my grandpa, my aunt, uncle and cousins arriving in a flurry of bulky coats, settling down around the table to squabble over the crispy corner pieces of baked stuffing or to praise this year’s new recipe, my grandpa snoring in front of the television while the other men yell at the football game and the women clear the table and do the dishes.
I think of those things, images hovering over me like a warm fleece blanket, a blanket that never quite settles on my shoulders, a blanket that waits for me across hundreds of miles of Atlantic Ocean.
And the lump stays stuck in my throat.