Going home for Christmas was better than we could ever have imagined it to be. The most honest way to describe it is that we were utterly and completely spoiled. We were able to spend the holidays with our families and friends we have had for years, in the California sun, and our parents clothed us in completely new wardrobes. We left Scotland with what we thought were suitcases full of gifts for our families, and returned with suitcases bursting at the seams with all the clothes and shoes we were given. Our feet are warm, our coats without holes, and our hearts full to the brim. [sidenote: while we were home, I got offered a job at one of the main hospitals near us! I start the 26th. I’ll share more once I know more!]
We packed our days full to see all the people we loved. Our flight over was a bit long, as we got to Los Angeles for an already long lay over (3 hours), and then our flight was delayed an additional 2 hours. Five hours in LAX when we were only an hour flight from home was a bit torturous. We survived by eating our first American meal at Kogi Korean BBQ truck and trying not to fall asleep on the airport floor. The reunion at SFO with our parents and siblings was oh so sweet (although I think there were a few elbows to faces in all the hugging…). We fell into our bed at the Michelson’s, and I was up at 5:30 am the next morning to head off to… Los Angeles.
I made a whirlwind trip down South to see some of my best friends from college. I was able to get lunch with some of my nursing friends, which was such a great time. It is amazing how even though I am working in a completely different country, how we are all working in different areas, we still come together and tell stories and have that “Oh my gosh, me too!” reaction. It is a special bond we share that I will always treasure (after all, who else wants to hear your grossest nursing stories…?) I spent the afternoon and evening with Bethany and Katie, two of my roommates from college. Bethany got married in September, and it broke my heart not to be there in person, but I was able to see their new apartment and hear all about married life. Just to hug my friends was so worth the jetlagged whirlwind trip.
The rest of our days were mostly spent soaking in time with as many people as we could. Many days I would spend the days at my parent’s house, baking with my sisters, playing Mexican Train, and just being family. Jared’s days usually went something like: coffee, lunch, drinks, coffee, walk, coffee. Each with a different person. And usually our evenings were spent together over a meal with friends and family. We enjoyed time with so many people, and I apologise for the fact that we never really got over the jetlag. We consistently woke up between 5:30 and 7 am, and by 8 pm, I was a zombie. Yet we just pushed through and enjoyed every minute we could.
Friday night the Michelson’s planned an open house where we were able to see so many people all in one place, which was quite the party! It was a bit reminiscent of all the many youth and Veritas events we had in that very space, filled with many of the same people.
Saturday we went to what is still one of our very favorite cities in the world: San Francisco. As we were walking around, Jared said it perfectly, “We have been to Paris, London, Edinburgh… and we still love San Francisco as much as any one of them.” We met Beth in San Francisco and ate our way through the city, as usual. We visited Trouble Coffee, Dynamo Donuts, Magnolia for brunch, Alembic, Saint Frank, and other’s that I’m surely forgetting. We all scored at the second hand shops in Haight, and it made me wish that charity shops in Scotland were as good as the ones in San Francisco. In the evening we met up with some other friends to celebrate the one and only Cris Mendoza. Cris’ birthday was shortly after we left CA, so we celebrated early with dinner at Rogue Brewery and drinks at the world famous Comstock Saloon.
Sunday we celebrated my mom’s birthday with deep dish pizza (yummmm), Nutella mug cakes, and the Hobbit. Birthdays are a big deal in my family and it was special to be able to celebrate my mom while we were home!
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent mostly as quiet days with our families. Allison and I made an absurd amount of homemade cinnamon rolls to split between the Michelson and Gudnason homes, which we all feasted on for Christmas morning breakfast. We all attended the Christmas Eve service at SCBC and then Jared and I got two dinners, Chinese take out with the Michelsons, and homemade clam chowder and crab with the Gudnason’s. Lynn, my grandpa’s wife, introduced us to her family tradition of clam chowder and crab on Christmas Eve, and we all agreed that it is one we should adopt as well!
Christmas morning we were spoiled beyond belief at both homes, with presents and delicious food. We went for a late morning walk with Verve Coffee in hand on West Cliff in Santa Cruz, a perfectly sunny Christmas day. Patty made homemade BBQ ribs, which we stuffed ourselves on, before heading to a Gudnason Christmas meal of stuffed rolled pork (I think), and too much pie. We finished the night with a final game of Mexican Train, and then spent about an hour rearranging our suitcases and forcing Hannah to stand on the scale and weigh them for us.
Our trip back included another delay on our final flight, only this time we were on the plane… taxi-ing around for 3 hours, then refueling, before making our 1 hour flight back to Edinburgh. Although it was bittersweet to return to St Andrews, there is something to be said that even after wonderful time with family and friends, it still feels like coming home. Our hearts are split in two worlds right now, and that is okay. We love them each, and soften our goodbyes with promises of visits, this summer, next Christmas, next summer… Any thing to hold on to to help living in two worlds just a bit easier.