COLUMN: An unordinary holiday season


On the shores of Playa de Matalascañas in Huelva, Spain, columnist Lauren Saxe spends her 21st birthday at the beach. Though much different than a typical celebration, Saxe enjoyed the new experience with her host sister, Miriam. Lauren Saxe and Lauren Saxe

The fall semester is more or less a continual celebration — Halloween in October, Thanksgiving in November and an abundance of holidays celebrated in December.

When I chose to study abroad during the first semester instead of the second, I knew that would mean giving up a lot of these special occasions, at least in the traditional sense I’m used to.

Traditions bring us together and allow us to revive precious memories, but there is something to be said for 
creating new ones.

Throughout the past few weeks, I have celebrated both my 21st birthday and Thanksgiving (or as I like to call this year’s version, Spainsgiving). Let’s start with turning 21.

A tiara, a sash sprinkled with glitter and making a beeline for Kilroy’s is how I might have painted the portrait of a 21st birthday in Bloomington. I’d imagined mine might include at least one of these things, but it did not include any. And it was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had.

My host sister, Miriam, and I hopped in her car Sunday morning and drove to a city about an hour and a half away called Huelva.

Armed with a giant umbrella, Cruzcampo (a beer produced in Seville) and a sunny forecast, we spent the day soaking in the sun, napping in the sand and chatting with the sound of crashing waves behind us.

Though I’m looking forward to walking through the doors of KOK come January, all you really need is a good friend, a comfortable breeze and a cold beer to feel blessed and at ease, ready to celebrate.

Fast forward to two weeks later. My family and all of my relatives are in Pennsylvania to have Thanksgiving together, and while I can’t get enough of my jamón serrano here, nothing quite beats a carved turkey and my great aunt Jane’s 
recipe for cranberry sauce.

Although Thanksgiving is not a holiday celebrated here, my fellow American students and I went to El Contenedor, a restaurant in the neighborhood where we live, for a nice dinner. Afterward we headed to the Alameda, a popular area with several bars, to relax and have a drink.

I know what you’re thinking — what about the stuffing? What about the pumpkin pie? You’re doing it wrong.

However, this holiday is about celebrating what you’re thankful for and being home. Seville has been our home for the past three months, and I think we were all thankful to be with each other.

Our generation seems to have this perpetual fear of missing out, popularly known as “FOMO.” My advice to you: don’t.

Instead of worrying about what everyone else is doing, take some time to appreciate and enjoy the things you’re doing. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend the fall any other way. Because if things always stayed the same, well, would we really be living?

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