Dear Family and Friends,
Wow. This is the third Christmas letter I’ve written from this side of the Pacific. The first, I was not even three months into my first teaching contract in South Korea; the second, I was soaking in the sun on an island beach in Thailand. Now, I’m back in Korea more than three months into my second teaching contract. To say that I miss being home for the holidays would be a huge understatement. Despite the homesickness that always accompanies the holidays away from home (at least for me), I am soothed by three things.
The first is the group of wonderful friends who surround me here in Pohang. The memories we’ve made together have been the main reason for my decision to return to Pohang in September. The bond we have goes beyond our shared circumstance; most of us are kindred spirits ill-suited to a life stagnating back home, wherever that may be.
The second is the knowledge that the decisions I’ve made over the past year have been good ones. I started the year in Thailand and moved on from there to: Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Mongolia and–finally–back home to the USA. Walking up my parents’ driveway, gaunt and weary, was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve had. Over 19 months had passed since I’d left, yet it still seemed like no time had passed. Even so, I changed so much during that time. With the exception of some severe weight loss, I was a better person than before. I think that was due, in part, to the fact that despite the discomfort and heartache, I’d managed to follow my dreams. For me, that is enough–no matter the cost.
Finally, I am looking forward to 2014; the first time in four years when I will actually spend the holidays at home in Mount Vernon, WA. Words can’t begin to describe how much I’m looking forward to that!
As much as I look forward to the future, I need to stay in the present. I am thankful for the wonderful year I’ve had, as well as for all my amazing friends and wonderful family. I would not be where I am now were it not for their strength and encouragement. I’m thankful for having a job I actually enjoy, as well as the co-workers and kids who make it awesome. I’m thankful for my health, as well as for the opportunities that have come my way. With all of those things and more, I think I’m a pretty lucky guy.
To everyone back home, I miss you more than you know. Out of the past three Christmases spent away from you, this one has been the hardest. I love you to pieces and can’t wait to see you next year!
PS… here is a little Christmas treat for all you family members who remember my last abysmal venture as someone fat and jolly:
…I did a little bit better this time! =)