I’m cheating a bit here, but this always happens towards the end of a trip home: a sense of urgency grabs hold as the last few days of my countdown approach, and the harder I try to cling to each moment remaining, the faster they seem to slip away from me. All my noble goals (exercising, writing here, organizing things) fall by the wayside, and all I want to do is soak in my time at home, but I often end up rattling around in a decidedly unsettled manner that makes the days feel blurry and strange.
Luckily, though, I started tracking my time a couple of years ago, and so aside from a gap on the morning of the 31st, I actually can see what filled my time during these past few days: there was a satisfying amount of reading (side note: my father lent me three books a year ago now; I have only now just finished one, which is simultaneously satisfying and disheartening – why didn’t I read them right away so that we could talk about them together?! Sigh), daily movie nights with my mother (we are working our way through season 5 of Modern Family), a solid and efficient amount of translating work, and plenty of other family time – running errands with my mother (a treasured activity, unlikely though that may seem), playing with electric trains with my father (also a highly treasured shared activity), and setting up a new computer for my parents.
The New Year arrived in its usual quiet way at our house: my brother couldn’t join us due to covid concerns and various other calamities out where he lives, so my parents and I spent a cozy evening eating dinner together (I made bolognese ragù atop fresh tagliatelle – NB I did not personally make the fresh tagliatelle – and a blueberry pie. Notes: blueberry pie in the summer was more delicious than I ever expected. Blueberry pie in the winter is not very nice. I am blaming inferior blueberries but it could also be a recipe failure on my part) and then watching Modern Family (and in my case, dozing off intermittently) until the last 5 minutes of the ball dropping NYE show (which is about all we can stomach of that). We wished each other a happy new year, my parents reiterated their delight that we may have acquired a new family member by then, and I slid into my comfy bed. I really love how compatible my family and I are in terms of how to spend holidays.
Now it’s departure day, a day I rather viscerally despise (I mean that quite literally: I have a pit in my stomach). So I’ve decided to go ahead and review my home-time holiday fun list in an effort to cheer myself up.
- A day or evening with my college best friend – the first time I will see her after two full years apart! – Success! It was lovely.
- The Nutcracker with my mother – this did not happen; my mother was feeling under the weather that day and so we decided to skip it just in case of covid. Ah well. Maybe next year.
- Putting up the Christmas tree with my dad – another beautiful, delicious-smelling tree. ❤
- Baking Christmas cookies with my dad – success, and it was as lovely as it always is.
- Go Christmas shopping wtih my mom and enjoy everything about it – the decorations, our conversations on the drive there and back, maybe indulging in a special snack, and of course, choosing gifts for people. – Sort of. We did go Christmas shopping, but my mother was mostly tired and stressed and I was mostly tired and nauseous. Also, omicron. So it was not really as fun as it has been in years past.
- Enjoy movie nights with my mom – yup! We watched Love Actually, The Sound of Music (one of my absolute favorite movies – we don’t consider it a Christmas movie, personally, but since it was on TV one night that Netflix wasn’t working and since I have our copy of the DVD in Italy, we decided to go for it and it reminded me just how much I adore it. Love), plenty of Modern Family, and no Call My Agent because apparently Netflix/my parents’ internet connection was having some sort of issue. That’s okay. It will be a special treat for when my mom comes to visit me and my working Netflix account in Italy!
- Watch A Christmas Carol (the George C. Scott version – recommend!) with my dad – yup! Just as wonderful as always.
- Revel in trips to my good old home library and leisurely afternoons reading for fun. – I did have a lovely trip to the library, and quite a few indulgent reading moments, but I would have liked even more.
- Indulge in favorite home-time treats – Thai food, Indian food, Chipotle (don’t judge), and home-made nachos in lieu of a fancy New Year’s Eve dinner. – Sort of. We did have Thai food and Chipotle once each, but they weren’t as delicious or appealing as usual thanks to first trimester blech. Ah well. I’m hoping for one last pre-baby trip home (assuming this pregnancy continues to be all good) right at the end of my second trimester so hopefully I’ll be in that starving-everything-seems-delicious mode that I’ve heard about and I can scarf down all my favorites then.
- Also indulge in totally frivolous holiday trappings like Mrs. Meyer’s holiday themed hand soap. – Yup, this was a winner. I used the Iowa Pine scent the whole time I was there and loved it. Or rather, I especially loved it at the beginning of the trip. Towards the end, it, like most other things in life, started to make me feel a bit queasy. Sigh.
Pretty good for a covid-infested holiday break! Downsides: we didn’t get to see much family because of covid, and I also felt tired and blah and queasy and just sort of vaguely uneasy for a lot of the trip. This is the price you pay for babies, though, I expect. I definitely am feeling a bit better than the extremely discomfitting ‘what on earth have we done?’ feeling from the beginning of the trip. Onwards! Here’s hoping 2022 will be gentler than 2021.
Photo: Look, I’m running low on interesting photos here. How great is this sweater I spotted in WalMart though?!