Turkeys and Tears

I have always been emotional around the holidays. I’m not sure why. I think maybe it’s that I feel unbelievably grateful for my family and life and then immediately feel unbelievably guilty. I really hate people who constantly are doing the #humblebrag and are so BLESSED. I try to stay away those words. I think it’s a little condescending, obnoxious, boastful…whatever.*** But trying to explain why I’m emotional…I had a pretty choice life so far (still a long way to go…and yeah I’ve had struggles, but I mean, I can’t honestly say I’ve had a hard life) and that just leaves me feeling awful. That life’s not fair. Other people are more deserving of this set-up. I’ll walk past a homeless man in Chicago and am embarrassed by my engagement ring and my stupid Uggs. And I can go pretty far down this shame-spiral (as my fairy Godmother calls it). So I’ll stop here.

So that’s working against me. And my father died a couple days before Thanksgiving 2 years ago, so even though the date varies, Thanksgiving is kind of a sad reminder of that time. Then you go right into Christmas…and I really just can’t express how much I miss my father on a daily basis. So I’m extra emo during the holidays.

And now this is only the 3rd time I’ve ever missed Thanksgiving with my family. The first time I was in London studying abroad (E came though!), the next time was the year immediately following and we were in San Diego and poor. Not really poor, but our poor. And we couldn’t fly home so we drove to Phoenix and spent the day with my Uncle/Godfather and my Goddaughter. So at least we were with family, football, and someone else cooked.

This year, I’m cooking. And there’s no family. And I’m still adjusting to life as an expat. We invited a friend so I’m not going to all this trouble for just us two. And actually, another couple might come as well. And I’m going to do my damndest to make it feel like a big, happy, American thanksgiving. And we’ll be watching the Bears! Everyone else sadly has to work all day…so it won’t be until 7pm…and they have to work the next day so I might be the only one over-indulging in the wine but that’s okay.

Yesterday after running around Aberdeen to 3 different stores (and I have another trip to make today) I got pretty stressed about the holidays and homesick and whiny and teary. So I needed to fix stat and the best way to do that was to Christmas-ize our house. Not anything crazy…but I needed a tree.

It should be noted I had a bunch of boxes of Christmas decorations in the states, a whole huge ornament case holding about 200 ornaments that I left in my parent’s basement. Why? Well, E will admit he probably put his foot down that we a) wouldn’t have the space to store it and b) we’re coming home for Christmas anyway so we don’t need em. And I guess he won that battle because the decorations in large part are in Indiana. I did bring a small box of random stuff and our stockings. But it wasn’t enough. I went to Dobbie’s garden center and came home with lights (holy hell, lights here are 100% more expensive but a 100% nicer. But seriously I spent about £70 on 3 strands of lights), a little Christmas tree, a big poinsettia, some snowflake decals, and ornaments.   And then proceeded to insist that all of those decorations must be put up right when I got home, lights hung, tree decorated, Christmas music blasting. E thinks I’m insane. But we got it all up and I did feel a lot better (also helping the fact was the case of Apothic Red we snagged at Costco last weekend- yay American wine!).IMG_0775 IMG_0774 IMG_0773










So, I feel like we should have brought all of our Christmas stuff…but it’s okay. But take note future expats, you’ll think “Oh, we’ll be in the states for Christmas, it doesn’t matter.” But it does! It will make you feel more at home. And now I can enjoy it all 13 days I’m in Scotland before I leave for Christmas. Ha!

***I used to have a valet from Nigeria. His wife and son were still in Nigeria. He worked 2 valet jobs to send money to them and work towards bringing them to America. He had terrible, deep scars all over his face. And everyday when I asked him how he was doing, he gleefully (seriously, gleefully is the best word to describe it) would say, “Blessed!” Wouldn’t matter if it was -20 wind-chill or 100 degrees, or how many people were waiting for the car, or how many drivers were honking. He was “Blessed!” and I thought it was the best thing ever. I don’t think the word blessed is necessarily a sham…but I hate the #blessed I see all over social media.

This is Erik's most hated snowman.  Of course he made it to Scotland :)

This is Erik’s most hated snowman. Of course he made it to Scotland 🙂


  1. kelly

    Hey Lauren,

    I came across your blog from your instragram at some point a few months ago and have been lurking. I’m an expat myself, living in Norway for about 2 years now. After reading some of your recent posts, I thought I’d send you a comment.

    I just wanted to commiserate and say that being an expat is hard and there are plenty of ups and downs. But I (humbly) think that they best way to make the most of your experience is to step away from the comparison to the US. If you always compare it to the US, Aberdeen (or anywhere else) will always lose because it isn’t the same and it isn’t what you are used to. You need to set your expectations aside and see you new home as someplace different from home. It is supposed to be different.

    Recently someone told me – if you find yourself someplace where people walk on their hands, ask not why don’t they walk on their feet, but instead why do they walk on their hands. I try to go back to this whenever I am frustrated about they way things work here as a way to remind myself to be culturally open (doesn’t always work but I do try really hard).

    Embrace new things and new ideas – so that someday you can look back at you time in Scotland and talk about how different your life was there, not that your life was just like it was in the US. Can’t find a turkey? Have a Thanksgiving ham instead. Celebrate on the weekend so that people don’t have to work and you can all enjoy the wine (and invite all your friends over to help learn to cook the traditional dishes with you). Don’t have you favorite Christmas ornaments? Start collecting new ornaments on your travels. Don’t enjoy British TV? Read more.

    Holidays are definitely hard (I miss my family today too), but as you settle into life more and make some more friends, things like this get easier. My suggestions – embrace the differences, move away from your US expectations and have a positive attitude toward immersing yourself in Scottish life!

    And have a great thanksgiving! Even if it is different from Thanksgivings in the past, that doesn’t mean it can’t be as special!

    (PS – and I acknowledge that blogs are often good places to dump out all your feelings, so even if the past few blog posts have seemed a bit negative, it doesn’t mean that your outlook on life in Scotland in negative).

  2. kelly

    PPS – my comment is not intended to be mean or judgmental or anything like that. I hope it isn’t taken like that! But instead to say – I know it is rough sometimes, it gets better, and here are some of the things I did to help me adjust.

    1. Lauren (Post author)

      Thanks for following! No- I totally get it. And it is hard when I go to the blog to dump all of my energy…which at the end of the day could come off as a negative tone… Initially I thought of this blog as helping future expats know what to expect in Scotland which I think is why I compare my experiences- just so anyone ‘out there’ knows and understands. I hope in the next few months there will be less ragging on Scotland and more just adventures in Scotland. It’s also a blessing and a curse that I’ve only been here (going on) 5 months, and yet I’m about to head back stateside for the 2nd time! I think come 2015 when I’m good and settled here… I’ll stop longing for the days of old. Thanks again for reaching out- I like the walking on the hands bit. It is so important to try and remind yourself to be culturally aware and open!

  3. Stan

    That is the worst snowman ever.

    1. Lauren (Post author)

      Erik agrees… I think he’s cute.


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