My dear family,

I have been feeling very grateful lately. When I realised that, only this year alone, I have been (and sunbathed and swam) to ten different beaches across Europe. I proudly display a nice tan that I’m trying hard to maintain by either not showering on a daily basis or by lying in the sunny bits of my flat during the day, until sunset.

How fortunate am I to have had three different summer holidays, to have been to Portugal, Croatia and Greece this summer, to have join my sisters and their families there, and to have spent endless days of summer walking in the sand, swimming in the sea and eating gorgeous food? I am grateful for the love I keep finding in my sisters and my niece and nephews, the unconditional love when they come running to me when they first see me after a while. I am grateful that I can re-connect and re-integrate into the lives of my sisters so seamlessly every single time we see each other, even if it’s been a year. I am grateful that they want to spend time with me and make some sacrifices to be with me, come pick me up from weird airports (or bus or train stations) around Europe. I am grateful that I now live closer to them and I can afford to take a short flight to meet them somewhere in Europe. I am grateful that the novelty of seeing one another never wears off. I am grateful for all the long hugs and deep love I feel whenever we see each other. I am grateful for the calls and the messages and the photos. And most of all, the love.

I didn’t mean to count the beaches I’ve been to this year. It’s not the beaches. It’s the quantity and quality of love I receive when I’m around, especially after being away for so long. This year marked my 14th anniversary of being away from my home country, but the connection I have with my family there has never been stronger. It’s not the miles, it’s the feelings. And the feeling is definitely love.

While it’s difficult to say it in front of them, either when we first see each other after a long time, or when we say goodbye until next time, I do love each and every one of them deeply and cannot imagine my life without these wonderful connections that we call relatives. I am grateful for all of you and cannot wait to see you at Christmas, this time at home!

Love always,