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Two weekends ago I went to one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, Venice. Never have I seen a city that looks exactly like it does in pictures. As my roommate and I agreed, walking through Venice is like walking on the set of a movie—quiet, beautiful, and perfectly constructed everywhere you look. If I had to choose one word to describe the city, it would be “magic.”
This week in particular has been really tough on me. I only have three weeks left on my European excursion—the final stretch has come—and this is the first time I will not be at home for one of my favorite holidays. What I’m having the most trouble with is the fact that I won’t be able to have 4:00 turkey dinner with my mom and dad and sister, or celebrate the tradition I’ve known for 19 years. I won’t be at home when my mom’s stuffing doesn’t turn out so well but my dad has a backup stored in the fridge (it happens every year). I won’t wake up to the smell of migas floating through the house, and I won’t get to watch the dog show that follows the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Instead, I’ll be spending Thanksgiving in Dublin.
So here I am, sitting in my room in a 16th century castle in Europe with three of my best friends, packing for a trip to Ireland, crying. Why? I think I’ve gone mad.
Obviously, Thanksgiving is about being thankful. It’s the time of year when we look back at all the good we’ve experienced and we take the time to think about the true gifts in our lives. This year especially, I have so much to be thankful for: this trip, everything that I’m learning about the world and different cultures, and all of the things I’ve proved to myself that I can do. What I have learned most, however, is the importance of family, and how thankful I am for mine.
I am so lucky to have an opportunity like this. Most people don’t get this chance. I wish so badly that more people could travel abroad, spending time by themselves and learning how to “be.” I have gained such an appreciation for my parents and everything they do for my sister and me. I finally understand the value of a dollar, what it’s like to be an adult (although I’ve only had to deal with myself and that’s hard enough sometimes. I can’t imagine what it’s like trying to raise children on top of that), and what the meaning of “home” is. I guess, what it comes down to, is that I’ve learned how to be an adult. (I will never admit this in person though.)
I’ve been to eleven different countries in nine weeks. I recently spent three days in one of the most picturesque places this world has to share, and I’m spending Thanksgiving in Ireland. There’s really not much I can complain about. And yet I am still sitting here in a castle, tearing up, because I just want to be at home for one day with the people I am most thankful for.
You don’t realize the value of family until you have a chance to step back and look at it from far away. Most people don’t get that chance, and I am lucky that I do. Family, no matter what forms it may take—the traditional form, close friends, a person and their cat—anything is beautiful. And as much as I wish I could be home, I still have a little more learning to do. I’m not quite finished yet.
I have now used 602 words to describe what I’m thankful for this year: this truly once in a lifetime experience and, most of all, my family. Take the time to really think about what is most important to you. Write it down or say it aloud. We all have much to be thankful for this year. Happy Turkey Day!