When you're away from home, you appreciate all the more the little things you might normally take for granted. This is true in my case anyways. Living in Russia is an experience that I'm truly grateful for, and while it's completely unique in and of itself, I tend to get really excited about the little things that bring me small echoes of home.
This will be the first Christmas when Tyler and I aren't with our families. Luckily, our apartment came with a tree, some lights, and a bit of garland, thus making us feel a little more at home. We're blaring Christmas tunes (especially these and these) at all hours of the day and catching up on the classic seasonal movies. There's nothing like a helping of Clark Griswold and Kevin McCallister to put you in the holiday mood.
The other Saturday began as usual, with a stack of blini cooking on the stove, only this time Tyler surprised me with something. He told me to pick a hand. My chances were 50/50 and as usual I lost, but luckily he showed mercy and let me have another go.
In his hand was a maple leaf ornament made of wood that he'd secretly bought when we were in Vermont this past summer. He had been hiding it in his sock since August and brought it across oceans and mountains, waiting until the perfect moment to give it to me. We always pick out a new ornament every year and this one couldn't be more perfect.
Before I left for Russia, my brother gave me a small gift from one of his recent travels to Charleston, South Carolina. I just recently unpacked it, as I'd completely forgotten that I'd put it in the bathroom drawer. It smells lovely with hints of coconut.
If you live in Arizona and are neighbors with California, you have access to a variety of fruit and veggies all year around. When you live in northern Russia, you don't. So, I was especially excited when I came home one evening to find a carton of strawberries sitting on the counter.
I haven't eaten, let alone seen strawberries since we left the U.S. It was a welcomed sight and taste. These babies didn't last the day.
I became a coffee lover late in life. Knowing that we might not have access to our favorite blends, I tucked a bag of the good stuff roasted in Brooklyn, New York into my suitcase and we've been rationing it ever since. The smell of coffee brewing in the morning is both nostalgic and comforting, especially when bacon is frying nearby and bread is toasting. I wish I could bottle that scent right up!
I used to subscribe to a lot of magazines, but I never had time to read them all, so they would just stack up next to my bed. My favorite is Harper's Bazaar, and I've managed to find the Russian version whenever I'm at the airport. I pick out a few words, but mostly I just look at the photos.
I also subscribe to the digital version of Food Network magazine. Instead of running to my mailbox to see what I've got, I just roll over in bed, grab my iPad and voila! A new edition awaits me. It's like a digital butler (kind of).
It's not hard to find the little things that make you feel right at home, regardless of how far from it you actually are (just shy of 6,000 miles in this case).
I hope you all have a lovely holiday surrounded by family and friends. Tyler and I are sending our love from Russia and a bit of snow, too.