Nest Guest #1 [Maggie]

I'm kicking off the week of Nest Guests (cute, eh?) with my adorable cousin, Maggie
Maggie is the perfect combination of home body/ family-gal and risk taker/ adventurer. Case in point: in August she moved to Poland, not knowing anyone, and is working there on a two year contact. But she's also blogging her way through it and our whole family reads religiously. Remember this post that I linked to? And....wait for it... she is coming home for Christmas! Can't wait to celebrate with her and hug the air out of her lungs. So. After that beautiful word picture, I give you Maggie. 

Hey there {our nest in the city} readers!  I’m so excited to be a featured blogger on Emily’s site, or “the blog” as my family lovingly calls it.  I’ve been fortunate enough to know Emily for my entire life and I consider myself truly lucky to call her not only a cousin, but a good friend.   

So what’s my story?  The long and short of it is that in January 2012, while I was working on my Bachelors of Education, I attended a teaching overseas recruitment fair.  Administrators and recruiters from international schools all over the world came held a weekend-long fair, where they interviewed and hired teachers for their schools.  I interviewed with schools from Mexico, Italy, Thailand, Taiwan, India, and Poland, and despite my lack of teaching experience, was hired to teach kindergarten at a small international school in Poland.   

I left Canada and arrived in Wroclaw on August 7th. My move to a new country has been an amazing experience so far but of course, it has been met with some challenges and big changes. When Em made her post asking for guest bloggers to talk about their plans for Christmas, I jumped at the opportunity. Although I am going home for the Holidays on December 17th, it has become pretty clear to me that the way I’ll be celebrating this year will be a bit of a change from previous years - beginning alone in Europe.  

I need to say it: I love Christmas.  You can roll your eyes if you like, but I’m one of those people who firmly believe that the Christmas season begins on November 1st.  I normally find myself putting up trees and baking Christmas cookies in early November and convincing others to do the same, because I just can’t wait any longer.  There’s something so warm and magical about this time of year, something comforting about family traditions.  Each year at the end of November, my sister and I come home from school for a weekend and we put up the tree and decorate the house.  We watch our favourite Christmas movies and scour the channels for our favourite specials all through December.  We make shortbread cookies that we decorate by hand, and they always end up looking bad.  It’s something I look forward to every year.  This year, though, things are going to be different.  

Maybe it’s because I haven’t had the same build up as in previous years.  There’s no Thanksgiving to celebrate in Poland, and no Halloween.  In fact, I spent both of those holidays actively not celebrating, touring Auschwitz and at a music festival in Iceland, respectively.  I’m playing Christmas music in my flat as I write, but there are no dollar stores here to stock up on cheap Christmas decorations for my place.  There won’t be Christmas specials on TV that are in English, and I can’t imagine that much of the Christmas music on the radio will be in English, either.  I don’t have my usual people or resources at my fingertips and given the fact that I live alone, it all seems kind of depressing, right?

WRONG!  In fact, I’m excited to try new things, as this seems to be my year for trying new things.  I don’t have the things I usually have around Christmas time, but so what?  I like a challenge!  I have new people to get into the spirit with – not my usual people, but still amazing individuals: my co-workers, who have become more than just people I work with and are my good friends and pseudo family.  We’re going to a Christmas Market in Dresden, Germany on the first weekend in December.  I’m not sure what exactly a Christmas Market is, but it sounds like a dream come true for a Christmas geek like me (can you say mulled wine? I can!)  We’ll be having a staff Christmas party the next weekend, which will undoubtedly be a good time.  I plan to borrow (read: take) some of the colourful paper in my classroom and decorate my apartment with hand-made paper chains.  Get a little Charlie-Brown tree for my two Christmas ornaments.  Sure, it’s not the same, but that doesn’t mean it has to be bad.  I can sulk about the things I’m missing, but I’d rather get excited for the new things I’ll be doing.

However, what I’m looking forward to the most isn’t anything material.  I’m counting down the days until December 17th, when I’ll finally get to see my family face-to-face after 4 months.  Mom, Dad and Sarah and I (not to forget all of our extended family), together at last.  I can’t wait, because I could attend 50 Christmas Markets, put hundreds of ornaments on my tree, and decorate until my flat looked like something you’d see on Pintrest, but it wouldn’t matter at all unless there were people to enjoy it with.   

One of the things I’ve always loved about Christmas is the way it brings people together, but it’s never felt so important as it does this year. So lovely readers, I hope that wherever you are, however you’re celebrating, and whoever you’re celebrating with, that you are surrounded by special people this holiday season.  Whether it’s family, friends, members of your church, or strangers, I hope that you are able to share the warmth of the season with those most important to you :)

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