Leaving home is no feat. And spending holidays without your people? It's awful. Homesickness will haunt your core. Stress, anxiety, and loneliness will be your three enemies when dealing with constant longing.
Doing travel nursing is one of the best decisions I've made, and I don't know any other career path that is more appropriate for me than what I have right now. However, one major downside of it is being away from your comfort zone. That doesn't get to my nerves anymore because I've been working overseas for three years now. And I love it. Luis, on the other hand, had never left his hometown before we ventured into travel nursing. So it's natural for him to feel more homesick than I do.
This Christmas is his first Christmas away from home. This Christmas is also the same holiday that I'm not in my permanent flat. But that doesn't mean we don't get to experience Christmas, because love find ways. Lol, cheesy❤️
This photo was taken from my permanent flat. I bought some Christmas-themed pieces last November. During that time, I was still convinced that we'd be celebrating our Christmas in the valley. But, here we are in Lufkin just a month after! 😂
I was planning to buy some Christmas lights, at least, to have something in our temporary crib but Luis doesn't like the idea of it because it'd take some space when we move again. And he's right.
So what did we do, really?
Here are some ways to put extra holiday ambience to your temporary home:
Light up those scented candles
Aside from its relaxation properties, candles can also set the mood in your home. While you can choose essential oils and fragrance sprays over candles due to fire hazard reasons, they have been known as Christmas symbol for ages. The warmth it gives to a certain place is just so homey!
We chose Pine and Apple&Evergreen scents because they are Christmas related. My other favorite candle scents are pumpkin waffle (You should try this one!) and vanilla caramel. Get yours here.
Now, you might read some negative effects of scented candles, like it might cause cancer, asthma, those kinds of stuff. (Refer to Huffington Post)
According to Anne Steinemann, an environmental pollutants expert who is a professor of civil engineering and the chair of sustainable cities at the University of Melbourne, certain candles may emit numerous types of potentially hazardous chemicals, such as benzene and toluene. They can cause damage to the brain, lung and central nervous system, as well.
“I have heard from numerous people who have asthma that they can’t even go into a store if the store sells scented candles, even if they aren’t being burned,” Steinemann added. “They emit so much fragrance that they can trigger asthma attacks and even migraines.”
Researchers at South Carolina State University tested both petroleum-based paraffin wax candles and vegetable-based candles that were non-scented, non-pigmented and free of dyes. Their 2009 report concluded that while the vegetable-based candles didn’t produce any potentially harmful pollutants, the paraffin candles “released unwanted chemicals into the air,” said chemistry professor Ruhullah Massoudi in a statement.
“For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma,” Massoudi said.
The National Candle Association refutes these claims, stating in a comment to The Huffington Post: “The safety of scented candles is backed by decades of research, fragrance testing and a history of safe use. The fragrances approved for candle usage — whether synthesized or ‘natural’ — do not release toxic chemicals. Health and safety studies are conducted for fragrance materials used in candles, including toxicological and dermatological tests.”
2. Prepare your favorite holiday treat
For us, it's Christmas meltaway cookies. Meltaway cookies are a soft, lightly sweet shortbread cookie that literally melts away in your mouth. Okay, I didn't bake this one. I got ours from Walmart.
Cookies are Luis' favorite treat. And having ready to eat cookies in our kitchen brings wonders to his mood. Lol. I don't like baking in general so I don't have any go-to ingredients for this. But I was able to search one that matches what we got so HERE:
Yield: 20 cookies
¾ cup butter (1½ sticks, or 14 Tbsp), room temperature
½ cup powdered sugar
½ cup cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 Tbsp milk
¼ tsp vanilla or almond extract
red & green sprinkles
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter with the powdered sugar and cornstarch. Add vanilla. Mix well.
3. Combine the salt and flour. Add to the batter. Mix until dough clumps together.
4. Scoop cookie dough onto silicone lined baking sheets. Flatten dough balls with the bottom of a measuring cup dipped in powdered sugar.
5. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 12 minutes until just set. Do not over-bake.
6. Whisk together the ingredients for the glaze adding extra milk 1 tsp at a time until desired consistency. (Keep it slightly thick, a little milk goes a long way.) Spoon on top of cooled cookies.
7. Immediately shake sprinkles on top of wet glaze. Allow glaze to harden. Store cookies in an airtight container up to 5 days.
3. Have a sip of some peppermint drink
Sorry for the burnt mallows, I just like it toasted (for more caramel flavor). This is by far my favorite experimental drink I've made. I bought peppermint candies, crushed and sprinkled them on top of my Swiss Miss Chocolate drink with marshmallows. This hot drink is perfect before sleeping! We usually drink this after work so we can have a good rest.
Also, I got the idea from Ihop's chocolate drink.
4. Play your Christmas playlist
Click here for the Playlist that we play every morning.
Luis also plays Christmas songs from Youtube. It became a habit that we seriously enjoyed. Although he gets annoyed when I sing along. 😅
Okay, this may not be suited for the holiday vibe of this post but I just find it poetic. The timing is just perfect:
As BBC News reported and Michael’s publicist confirmed, George Michael died Christmas Day at age 53. He is the star beyond the iconic song, Last Christmas.
Mind blowing, right? Of all the days, of all the holidays, he died on Christmas day. We've played this song endless times! I even did my knock knock joke (song related) to Luis!
December 25,2015 who?
Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
December 26,2015 who?
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special
You just never know when your last Christmas will be. But maybe his spirit knew. And isn't a good time to go? With high spirits everywhere, carolers in the streets, happy scenes scattered in malls and in homes, such a good time to be alive, too! It's just me and my poetic self talking. Don't mind it.
5. Order a Holiday special at your favorite restaurant
If you don't plan to cook, go to your favorite restaurant and order their Holiday special on Christmas morning.
We didn't have the time to roam around because we worked both Christmas eve and Christmas night. So we figured going to our favorite breakfast place will do. And of course, don't have to guess, it's Ihop!
Annddd that's about it for this holiday post.
Just kidding. Last but not the least:
6. Gift giving
These gifts are actually from his family. And we love everything in this box!
From cookies to shoes to leggings and pens, they sure know how to make it personal. You see, it's not about expensive gifts. It may be cliche to say this, but it is really the thought that counts. This year, I gave him a leather jacket. He didn't bring one going here because he never thought it'll be cold this season, considering Lufkin's still Texas. Good thing, he left his jacket in my flat and I thought of bringing it with me. That jacket though is not as appropriately insulated as the one I bought. And honestly, he asked for that gift. Practicality goes a long way, they say. We went to Houston and roamed around Galleria mall and found one that suits him best at Macy's. It's INC hooded jacket with removable hood, drawstring closure. Its original cost is
$225, but we got it for only $95.90! If you want to purchase one for you with the same discount, go ahead and click >>this<<< and enter code: JOY upon checkout.
Could you guess what he gave me?
The art of fixing what I thought I never needed. Okay, that's too dramatic.
Last September, we went to HEB after our cruise getaway, and unfortunately, I dropped my phone against a metal bar at the bottom of the ice cream stall. My screen was broken (and it's not the tapered glass you guys!). So for three months, my phone has cracks all over it, I sometimes chip my thumbs. So when we went for gift shopping, we stopped by CELLTECH. It is a one stop for your repair needs, from cellphones, to tablets to laptops. They also specialize in carrying unique and trendy cellphone accessories. They have two trained professionals who patiently assisted us in finding the right case for my phone.
It's almost closing time (0930PM), and I thought they won't accept my phone anymore, but props to their tech team! They repaired it for only 10 minutes. It costs $235, all in all, including my new phone case which is shock and water-resistant. I didn't ask for a gift so my Luis, being the thoughtful guy that he is, paid for everything. I volunteered to pay for the case but he insisted to pay the whole amount. Here is the breakdown: $150 for repair, $60 for the phone case, and the remaining $10 for taxes. The moral of the story: Don't ever drop your phone! And invest in tapered glass! You just never know when your phone's going to give up on you and your tantrums. Lol.
My 2016 Christmas is different from my other Christmases. Last year, I celebrated it with my family and friends in the Philippines. It was fun-filled and I was hyper most of the time. This year, it was quiet and relaxed. Plus, I was with Luis and Pumpkin. During my **single** ages aka boring years, I'd always wish to celebrate this season with someone I love.
You know, sharing a cup of warm drink on this cold and cuddle weather. This year is THAT year. All those years of waiting and praying and hoping that someone is out there waiting for me to be his other half, they just made sense. Love is truly worth the wait.
Christmas time is that time of the year when you acknowledge Christ's presence in your life. Isn't he the reason for this season? Aside from the things that everybody look forward to- gifts, travel and all- we should keep in mind that Christmas is never about the physical things. It's about the never-ending grace from our creator. We live because He died for us and our sins thousands of years ago. We love because He first loved us. We give because He had given us everything. We forgive because He had forgiven us even before we commit our earthly sins. (Related post: Christmas story)
If ever you don't celebrate Christmas, for whatever reason, please know that my happy soul is reaching out to you! It may be Happy Hannukah to you, or just another ordinary day. I don't know, but I want you to feel that wherever you are, whatever season you are in right now, you are loved and adored!
How did your December 25th go? Share your story!