It’s been 20 years if not more, since I last celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents and brother. Over 20 years ago since I left my little town in northern California and decided to live not just outside of that town, but in a completely different country. After leaving the USA at the ripe age of just 18 years old, I moved to Sweden. From Sweden I have lived in several different countries over the years, with Zambia being the longest at around 10 months. But for some reason I have never come back around thanksgiving. I made this year an exception, more than anything else I wish I had my Swedish family with me; my wife, my two beautiful boys and my dog Anna. However, as things are (school for the boys, work for Elina, and uncertain what rules are for bringing a dog) I opted to go this one alone.

I am getting older, when I left my parents, friends and life in the USA I was 18 years old, I am now 41. I don’t feel much older, my weight hasn’t changed, my overall views have become broader and I’m not as quick to anger or to go head on in a fight, theoretical or physical. But I am older, wiser, a little slower. I am grateful for the life I have, I am truly blessed. I run my own business’s that allow me a form of economic freedom. It’s why I can go back to the states for three weeks in November while everyone else has to work. That is something that age, skill and luck have afforded me. It takes time and planning to get where I am today. I wish I had what I have today when I was 18 or 20. At least the economic freedom part. In any case, the older I get, the more grateful I get with what I have. I am also starting to realize that I won’t be on this planet forever, and honestly, even if drugs existed to allow me to live to be 500 years old, I wouldn’t be interested.

With this realization that I am getting older, I also start to appreciate my parents in a different light, perhaps this is also when I myself got married and had kids. The sacrifice of a parent can’t be overstated. The love a parent has for their kids is immeasurable, my kids will never understand, until, they themselves have kids. My parents will die someday, they like myself and my brother are getting older, wiser and slower. It’s the cycle of life, and no matter how much I wish to avoid it, it is the reality. I once read an article that, of the time people spend with their parents throughout their life, 96% of that time is spent before the age of 16. 4% is left of the remaining years. That certainly is the case with me, while I wish I could spend more time with my parents – distance and life circumstances (mainly having a wife and two kids in Sweden) will make that nearly impossible.

It has been three years since I last visited my parents. I had planned to go back two years ago, but life got in the way with a new Startup and move from one city to another, then a year ago – again life got in the way, this time an adoption process in Zambia that took almost the entire year to complete and now this year, the China virus has gotten in the way. In other words: Life. We can’t plan for every circumstance that comes about, the best we can do is make our plans and hope nothing fucks them up too bad. As I write this I am sitting 35000 feet above the ground on a flight back to the USA in the middle of a pandemic. I have been stressing now for weeks about cancelled flights, lock downs and more. My first two flights had been cancelled, so I rebooked. I then realized my Swedish passport had expired in August. Luckily my USA passport is still valid and I know for certain I will at least be able to fly in to Dothan Alabama. As, Alabama is one of the few states left now during the pandemic that is still allowing visitors. I’m not sure I will be able to get back into Sweden. I have a lot of worries; will they allow me to leave the USA? Will my flight be cancelled? Will Sweden let me in? Will I be bringing Covid to my parents? Will they get sick because of me? The list goes on and on. There is not much I can do about my worries other than keep pushing forward, I am doing my best to not infect my parents, wearing a mask, washing my hands, making sure to keep my distance and so on. I’m not worried about myself getting the virus, I have already had it. It’s not fun, but neither is the Flu. But for my parents it can be deadly.

In the end, being able to spend time with my family during these trying times means more to me than living in fear at home in Northern Sweden. Sometimes risk has to be taken to live a full and fulfilling life. Flying now has a different feel about it, everyone is polite, or perhaps, Thankful. Thankful to be able to travel, thankful to have a job, thankful to just be doing something other than sitting at home. I am looking forward to seeing my family again, it has been too long.

Anyway, thank you for reading my rambling article about me travelling home for Thanksgiving 😊

Posted by Kenneth Shaw

Blogger, photographer and backpacker. If you like my writing or my site don't be afraid to follow me, like or share my posts here on the site. Thanks and enjoy!

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