We spent this Christmas in Illinois with Ben’s family. With his extended family they don’t do gift giving, but on the night of the 24th the whole family comes together and they come up with some fun and creative ideas to celebrate Christmas with, after a delicious multi course meal and a large yule log dessert. ( I am not sure that is part of their tradition but this year we had it and if I can make one suggestion, I think it should be a tradition…It was so good) I really enjoy their Christmases, they always learn something new about each other and it is always very memorable. I am trying to shift the tradition over to the Hungarian side of the family too, I am sure everyone would enjoy getting a little creative 😀 They usually close the night with a card game battle which for me at the beginning was very unusual, because I didn’t grow up playing card games with my family, but now I am at the point where I really just want to beat everyone haha 😀 woops, got a little side tracked, but the point is that this Christmas we all had to share a story about our lives, and here are the 3 main categories:
1. Share a story of a time you received something that truly touched your heart
2. Share a story about yourself that changed the direction of your life
3. Share a story about your parents that has influenced your life (I picked this one)
So here is my story:
…..Being away from my parents is always hard, especially around the holidays, so I decided to tell a story about them, faith, and how much they have been helping me, so I can be here today…….
Growing up I always liked sports and enjoyed being outside so I tried many activities but it was a long road until I found tennis:
- I tried karate from age 4-7, which I loved very much but my coach moved away and the only club in our town got closed down. I loved it so much that if he never moved away, I would have never found tennis and by now I could be the Hungarian female Jackie Chan. But I guess that wasn’t meant to be.
- Then I tried – because I had to find something else – horseback riding, but during the very first lesson the horse slipped out of the teacher’s hands and ran away with me sitting on the top of him…I held on for about 10 seconds but then fell off and was never brave enough to get back on it…if I was a natural horseback rider (like those famous Hungarian ancestors, i.e. Attila the Hun) I would have probably just stopped the horse myself, walked it back to the trainer while everyone around us would have clapped and celebrated me as the youngest-best horseback rider ever and by now I would be a famous movie star and would have not played tennis…but I guess that wasn’t meant to be either.
- Then I tried soccer…not too seriously, just for fun but…that just wasn’t meant to be
- Then one day a tennis coach came into our P.E. class and asked to watch us while we played dodge ball. At the end he asked me if I wanted to play tennis in his summer camp because I look athletic enough…and this is how I knew tennis was meant to be. Because if there is one thing you should know about me then it is the fact that I cannot throw. I can’t throw to save my life. I can barely throw a tennis ball over the net from the base line but he still picked me out from the class…playing dodge-ball, which is all about throwing 😀 I had people tell me to read books like: “Rock throwing for Dummies” or “How to throw an object without looking like an idiot”…nope those are not real books, I just have very nice and polite friends.
But now that we have arrived to tennis…
At the beginning of that summer my parents got divorced so my mom and I moved to my grandparents’ place. My mom had a job in Croatia so she was gone 4-5 days a week. My grandparents took me to school, practice and tournaments. For the longest time people thought they were my parents and when my mom showed up everyone thought she was my older sister and I was just a late child…or an accident as they framed it. 😀
Growing up I never realized how hard my mom, grandparents and (later on) my stepdad worked in the background so I can get the best of everything. A couple years later when I was a 13-14 year old terrible teenager I realized that I don’t have time to hang out with my so-called friends anymore, I can’t go to the movies with them because I am always at practice or on tournaments and they won’t stay my friends if I am not around. So I wanted to quit tennis and keep my friends. I didn’t realize I would throw away not only all the work that I put into tennis but everything else my family had done for me. I would throw away their effort and hard work too. So again, because I was a terrible teenager I told my mom I was quitting. She looked at me and said: you have been working towards your goals very hard. Your friends would not stay your friends anymore?… then they are not your true friends. Are you sure you want to do this?
And I said “Yup!” and went to the movies. I quit tennis…for about two weeks! Then I quickly realized I don’t even like those people that much or at least not as much as I love my tennis friends, teammates, going to tournaments, traveling and competing.
Later on my mom told me it was very hard for her to not force me to stay with tennis…to not tell me that I have to keep playing. But she said that knowing her stubborn daughter (pff..stubborn?! :D) that would have only made things worse. So she trusted the fact that I would come to my senses, find my way back to tennis and would make a good decision. Now I understand how hard it must have been for her.
Then she met my step dad, and him, his daughter, my mom and I became a family. A year later my coach said that he can’t help me anymore but there is a great tennis club/academy in Budapest where I will be in the best hands, they will be able to help me improve…but again it is 2.5 hours away from where we lived…(in America it is a commute I get that but back home it is a huge distance haha) So my parents made a big decision, we left everything behind and we moved to Budapest. Well, we moved outside of Budapest. (And now my humorous friends, who always make fun of me for not being as cool as they are because I live outside of the capital would say: well that is a 2 hour commute too why did you even move??)
At the beginning my parents had a hard time affording the tennis club but they worked really hard to always pay the membership fee. They found me a good school – which eventually didn’t work out in the long run so I transferred to another one but it was for the better. I eventually started making friends and now I have lifetime friendships that I adore to the fullest.
- I never realized how hard my parents worked so I can have great tennis racquets, shoes, clothes, tennis bags…tennis is flipping expensive people.
- I never realized how much my mom was hurting from not being able to drive me to tournaments all the time because she had to work instead.
- I never realized how much I almost gave up when I wanted to quit tennis for friends who didn’t deserve my attention after all.
- I never realized how much patience my mom had/has to deal with a smart-@ss daughter like me.
- I never realized how much my parents were hurt when – after working so hard towards a tennis scholarship in the States – I said I am sick of studying for the English exams and I don’t want to leave my boyfriend behind anyways so I am not leaving anymore.
After graduation I just wanted to work and not think about studying for the exams…luckily I had a full year to get my stuff together. My parents nicely offered that they have a friend who owns a bookstore and since I love books I can help him out there and study on the side. But I was sick of studying, I just wanted to work…The bookstore was under the subway (which they kind of forgot to mention), in a very dark, scary and dusty place. We started every morning un-dusting books and wrapping them in see-through foil so they won’t get harmed by the dirt. I hated my life haha My parents asked me every day with a huge smile on their face: how was your day? And I always said: great, thank you! I couldn’t quit, I wouldn’t quit. But after a month I missed tennis more than anything and I did not enjoy work at all 😀 I picked up the study material again and passed my English exams as fast as I could. My parents totally tricked me into it. Again…they didn’t force me, they showed me the way in a very twisted and tricky way. 😀 I came to the States, eventually my boyfriend broke up with me, which was very hard, but I couldn’t really blame him for it. Couple years later though I met my current husband. We have been through a lot but he has been one of my biggest supporters along the way. I have a lovely family here in the States now and I feel very lucky for getting to know them and for them welcoming me into their lives.
I am so blessed to have such great people in my life. Family is everything and I am more than thankful for them. I am thankful for my parents and grandparents for raising me the way they did, for guiding me, for lifting me up when I was about to give up and for supporting me. I am who I am because of them and I am very proud to walk around the streets and represent them!
…..Being away from my parents is always hard, especially around the holidays, so I decided to tell a story about them, faith and how much they have been helping me, so I can be here today…..