As the end of the calendar year is approaching, we are beginning our second year in Granada. Here are my random thoughts of the changes we have experienced since our move to Granada in 2018.
Holiday traditions remain unfixed
We don’t have a fixed tradition for the holidays and I am fine with that. We remain flexible and make things up as we go along.
Last year we went back to Dallas for Thanksgiving; For Christmas we had an all-day game with our expat friends. And to bring in 2019, we ate 12 grapes as the clock sturck mid-night in Granada (and learned the important lessons on how to eat grapes fast!).
This year, for Thanksgiving, Jim went to Chicago to see one of our sons while I enjoyed playing three-hours of tennis with my new tennis friends group. They are Japanese, Russian and Granadinos, but we all love making a racquet together!
This year, we will celebrate Christmas in Granada (how is to be determined) and then hop on the plane the next day to celebrate the new year in Dallas with the boys.
Where is home?
Today, Jim and I live far away from our families, extended relatives, and long-time friends; they are spread all over the world, from Asia to America. It is very difficult and almost impossible to see everyone who is dear to us in the same place at the same time, which makes me a little sad at the thought of it.
But I am thankful that the advances in technology mean that I can stay in contact with all of them no matter where we are. We email, talk on Facetime, Line or WhatsApp regularly. It takes effort to keep in touch with those I love. Sometimes even the stars align, like this year where we have successfully negotiated a three-country agreement among Spain, USA and Japan residents to meet both boys in Dallas to bring in the year 2020 together as a family.
This makes me reflect on where exactly home is now. Jim often jokingly (but somewhat seriously) says home is where the cats are. As for me, it is not that simple, as my parents and my brothers are in Thailand and the US, the boys are in Japan and the US, and while we live in beautiful and mystic Granada, I feel like a part of me is always with the rest.
For me, home is not just a place; it is a state of mind, wherever we are mentally as well as physically.
So, with that being said, being with our sons means we will be “home” for the holidays.
Other random thoughts about family (cause that’s what the holidays make you do)
It is a bittersweet feeling to see the boys do so well in their respective fields after university. They are financially and mentally independent; they are on their own and no longer need us.
Parenting is the only job in the world that if you do it well, you call it a success to be dismissed because you are no longer needed.
So, Jim and I congratulate ourselves for being fired (though we stick around as independent consultants)!
At the same time as my children are no longer needing me, my father needs a lot more help, as he is in his last stage of Parkinson’s disease. It has been a tough two years seeing one of my parents deteriorate so quickly. I am extremely grateful for all my brothers, especially John, who took my parents, as well as a full-time caretaker, into his home while providing updates and coordinating with doctors for the rest of the family. We all contribute where we can and support each other as we have gone through this together.
It has made me appreciative of focusing more on time and health than money.
Finding my voice
While I may be retired in the sense that I don’t work to earn money any more, I feel that I have just started to say what I want to say through my writing. I am definitely not just sitting on the sidelines, out of the game; I am now raising awareness regarding the gender gap issue (see my interview on gender gap).
I first discovered my own voice by writing a three-part series (Mind the Gap, Not so Fast, Odds Against) on the financial website Humbledollar.com, and I was so taken back by the push-back, and even denial, from both men and women, that it has spurred me on to advocate even more.
It reaffirms to me that we can’t solve this problem if people (40 % of men and 17 % of women according to Ellevest’s 2018 Money Census) don’t acknowledge that we have a problem. Therefore, I will continue to be persistent by writing about it.
Over time, it is my hope that as more people acknowledge this problem, we can start working together toward eliminating the gender bias women face around the world.
Enough about serious subjects. This is our last post for the year. We will be back in Granada, and back to the blog, in the new year.
Happy holidays, every one, wherever you are, whoever you are with, and however you celebrate it. Felices fiestas a todos!
How about you? What are your thoughts as you wrapping up the year end? Where is home? What is your tradition for the holidays? Please share. We’d love to hear your thoughts.