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Starting a New Year...

Eek... despite all of the best intentions that I have had the past month to catch up on my weekly reflections/blogs; here I sit, the 6th of January, and I have made the decision to let my need to stick with my “perfect” schedule go and start fresh this year.

So, let’s leave it with the fact that December turned into a very different experience than I had planned for.  From spending a week and a half in the ICU with a co-worker who was admitted for what has turned into a plethora of medical reasons (but is soon returning to Canada to continue her recovery back closer to home) and learning a lot more about the Spanish hospital system (from insurance to structure to medical vocabulary and more) than I ever really wanted to know, to struggling with adjusting to the Eastern Standard Time Zone for just less than two weeks (which I think I finally accomplished the morning that I left - the first time I was able to sleep in all the way until 7:30!).  Nonetheless, I am thankful for the month that I had, the time here in Spain and the time back in the States with family and friends alike!

In reality I know that there is no way to recount all the joys and challenges that December brought in a way that would do justice to them all.  One thing I will continue to acknowledge, though, is that I have been so very blessed by all the incredible people who care for, love and support me - the beautiful family that I live with here that was always checking in on me and offering hugs and concern during the more stressful moments of running between work, the house and the hospital (even in the midst of health struggles of their own), my family back in the States who checked up and offered medical guidance and support (thanks Mom!), and all those who welcomed me back to the States with open hearts and homes.  I am not ashamed to admit that leaving the US was more bittersweet than I expected it to be - it was in many ways harder to say goodbye when there was so much more I wanted to say and do, so many people I still wanted to see and talk to, before returning to Madrid.  But, as it tends to do, time flies and before long it was time to fly back to Spain.

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With only a small glitch of weather, which led to a total change of flights, I made it back to Madrid - exhausted, hungry, and not ready to lug all my bags onto the metro.  I headed out of the terminal, towards the metro exit/entrance when I heard one of the sweetest sounds as Saúl, the 9-year old, yelled “Stephanie!” and ran towards me.  Raquel and the boys came and surprised me at the airport and drove me home!  I won’t lie, I almost cried... quite possibly a mixture of joy and exhaustion, all rolled into one.  

We made our way home and I couldn’t have picked a more exciting day to return if I had tried... for I arrived on January 5th - the Eve of The 3 Kings Day.  We all had dinner together and then Raquel, Alejandro and I went to the 3 Kings parade in Rivas.  It was raining so it was decided that we would not head into the city for the big parade, but the one in Rivas was pretty fun and Alejandro loved collecting all the candy!  It is a tradition that there is a parade for the 3 Kings on January 5th - it happens in each town and city, getting more elaborate in the larger cities.  The parades each have a theme, so in Rivas the theme was “Alice in Wonderland” with all of the schools creating “floats” with various characters or themes from the story.  Meanwhile, the theme in Madrid was “Inventors and Inventions” and featured a fairly huge Albert Einstein.  The 3 Kings appear at the end of the parade, as they wave and make their big appearance!  

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Then, back at home, we watched the rest of the Madrid parade and played an interesting board game (which the family had gotten for Christmas) called Carcassonne; I handed out the gifts and goodies I had brought from the States and then the boys got everything set and ready for the 3 Kings (and their camels) before heading to bed - including leaving out a pair of their shoes?? (I still have to figure what that’s about).  It was truly an exciting way to start the new year in Spain!

I’ll post my New Year’s Resolutions for my time here in Spain tomorrow, but, right now there is a game with my name on it (and tonight I’m not going to lose!).  ¡Feliz 2018!

-Stephanie
(Is 40:30-31)

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