Living away from loved ones can be tough, especially at Christmas. FaceTime and Skype are great, iMessage allows me to send photos of my day to my parents and the internet means it’s not hard to keep in touch, but there’s really no match for a huge hug and after-dinner chats with the people you love most.
As Christmas approached, it marked almost six months of not seeing my parents and I was really feeling it. I’m very close to my parents and my Nana, so people naturally ask questions when they find out they live in another country. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve answered the usual “don’t you miss them?” or “how often do you get to see each other?” but what people don’t often talk about is how to adapt your thinking and shift your perspective so that long distance family relationships become a blessing, not a curse.
I feel lucky that I not only have a lovely family, but that I have two others – Matt’s family and also the one we have created for ourselves. Matt’s family have always welcomed me and made me feel at home and I am fortunate to have two sets of people that mean a lot to me, as well as the little family unit Matt and I now have with our dog Maddie. I have two sets of lovely people to share life and experiences with, and over the years we have taken it in turns at Christmas, spending it with Matt’s family then mine.
This year we spent Christmas in Cheshire with Matt’s mum and sister and had a lovely time. It was Maddie’s first Christmas with us and she even had a cute little dress to wear for the occasion, as you may have seen if you follow me on Instagram! The plan was to visit my parents just before Christmas but flights, work holidays and sorting out Maddie didn’t all align, so we decided to meet up in January instead and meet elsewhere.
As a lot of you long-time readers will know, I used to call Valencia home. It stole my heart then and still has it now, so we thought it would be nice to go back and rent a place there for the holidays. Although Spanish people do mark December 25th, their festive season is longer than ours (my kind of people!) and children open presents on January 6th, brought by the Three Kings. It worked out perfectly as not only did we have a wonderful Christmas with Matt’s family, we also got to still feel Christmassy whilst we were in Valencia too, there were Christmas lights everywhere, plus ice skating and processions taking place around the city.
Valencia is such an underrated place, it’s got everything in my book and is well worth a visit. Walking through the park and down to the beautiful City of Arts & Sciences brought back so many good memories and the sun definitely helped shake off the winter blues that had been accumulating! We went to the beach one afternoon, mainly so I could show Matt, and although we were in jackets we could sit there quite happily for hours on the sand at the beginning of January – perfect!
We rented a lovely AirBnb (this one – highly recommend!) in the old town, really close actually to my old apartment which we walked past one day, that was surreal. It was my second time using AirBnb and both experiences have been really really good, you get so much for your money. All in all it was lovely to show Matt a city that means a lot to me, to catch up with my family and continue the festivities. Coming back to England was strange because I felt like I celebrated New Year here then went back to Christmas, it’s been odd getting back into the swing of things to say the least!
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday whatever you celebrate and I’m looking forward to what 2016 brings for us all!
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