Saturday, December 15, 2012

We Get By with a Little Help from Our Friends

As an American expat, I'm pretty much resigned to spending the rest of my life here in the Philippines.  In fact it's unlikely that I'll even be in a position or have the desire to visit the U.S. for quite some time to come, if ever. Yet, I've always felt that it's really too bad that my wife Lydia and I had to leave the States in the first place. However, based on our income as senior citizens, there's no way that we could have afforded to retire there as opposed to being able to enjoy a modest but comfortable lifestyle in this country for the same amount of

So when we think back on our lives in America (Southern California to be exact where we married and and spent 35 years of our lives together) it's with decidedly mixed emotions. Like most couples, we've experienced both good and hard times. But what makes it easy to for us to reminisce about the former are, of all things, the home furnishings that we brought with us to the Philippines, some of which we've had for many years and that have (for us anyway) enjoyable stories behind the way and places that we acquired them. Further, Lydia has arranged them so artistically that they more than compensate for our having to downsize to a small condo here vs. our roomy former apartment in California. 

But what makes our unit especially attractive this time of the year and fires up our recollections of days of old are the holiday decorations that Lydia bought years ago and insisted on taking with us and which she arranges in a beautiful display each December. Some of these items were very expensive and others Lydia made herself out of cardboard, wood,and plastic remnants but which look as intricate as the pricey ones that she purchased back in the 1970's at such places as Bullocks Wilshire, one of Los Angeles' erstwhile premier department stores. 

So if you're planning to move abroad, along with packing the necessities, don't hesitate to also include some of your treasured belongings even if they're nonessential items but ones that you consider to be part of your history. These possessions are of course no substitute for a personal willingness and ability to adjust to new surroundings and culture, and shipping them may entail additional freight costs. But the familiarity and fond memories that they provide can give emotional comfort and a sense of continuity during and after you settle in your new environment that will be well worth it.