Those of you in America (and maybe some other places in the Northern Hemisphere) have been enjoying the snow this winter, but since it just came to the south of England, I’m right in that sweet spot of being ultra-pleased that I look out my window and see a winter wonderland! And not a slushy gross gray one, either. Just white. Lovely.
We’re all moved and getting settled back in our old place (coughcough-in-laws-coughcough) and now that we’re here I’m feeling a lot better about the whole thing. Determined. I don’t think anyone pictures being roommates with anyone at all after getting married-let alone with family-but it really is a good opportunity for us to take care of business, and it’s nice of Jon’s parents to welcome us here. So I’m keeping my chin up, dammit. Besides, it was our decision, and even that is a privilege. We are lucky. We will make the most of this.
Snow finally arrived in England the day we left our flat. And it was beautiful. I thought it would be a light dusting, but it just kept coming! If Jon hadn’t been so ill, and if we hadn’t been in the midst of moving, I would have liked to take a seaside walk in the snow. Alas, that didn’t happen.
Just the beginning of the hours of snow that followed.
Pigeons cowering against the building across the street, huddled for warmth.
I love when people use umbrellas in the snow. It’s weirdly adorable.
However, the view is far different up north in the quiet bit of small village that is Lindfield, our new/old home. It snowed all day and we woke up to this yesterday morning…a still, peaceful, gorgeous winter wonderland.
And that vignette, my friends, is enough to cheer any girl up.
Man. You guys, I’m just…… kinda sad. Things are changing around here and not all the changes are what one would call fun, or “good”. I’m hoping for the best. I hope we are making good decisions. I don’t know. Basically, Jon and I are moving back in with his parents in the hopes of saving enough money to buy a house in 2013. It’s a lofty goal, and maybe too overly ambitious, and ya know, who really needs to buy a house anyway? But we’re doing this. We are also suffering through some personal physical issues, but I’m not about to splash that all over the internet, know what I mean? But anyway, that’s the reasoning behind a relative radio silence over here. There just isn’t as much to say in this new year. We’re halfway moved out of our place now, so our flat is particularly sad, which makes me more sad. We will be all moved out on Saturday, and it will be the end of an era/beginning of a new one. I hope we are doing a good thing. I hope we make the best of this grand idea. But right now I just feel….heavy.
The January ennui has set in. And as dramatic as that sounds, it’s a real thing, I swear. After all the bustle of the holidays, it’s to be expected. But it’s not really the holidays or the sparkle of December that I miss-it’s more a feeling that 2013 doesn’t have that much good in store for me. Which is just a crazy cynical way to look at a fresh start, but as of now, is how I’m feeling. Hopefully a year from now I can read this back, the future me who had a fantastic 2013, and laugh and say that was pretty dumb. Hopefully.
I passed the first week of the new year in a bundled up, cozy stupor, spending days one and two at home, on the couch with my books and my laptop and my Jon, days three and four at school, teaching private lessons, then trudging back home. The weather, not too cold and finally dry, in comparison to the stories of extensive snow and ice coming from back home. I would love some snow. The lack of it here tends to give me a sort of seasonal vertigo, where I can walk down the street and completely forget what month I’m in, or where I am at all. It is strange.
Just after Christmas, on December 27th, passed the one year anniversary of my indefinite move to England. It has been a year, let me tell you. And if you’ve read along with me, through this year (and maybe even longer, some of you), you know what kind of year it was. Good, and bad and everything in between. Lord knows I talked about it enough. But those are the things that make a year. It is strange to think that I can’t say when I will go home for good. Maybe I never will, we never will, and the thought makes me sad and nostalgic for things that haven’t even happened yet. It is strange to think that I still say “home” for multiple places. Columbus, Cardington, Brighton. When does that stop? Does it?
I know that home is an intangible idea, but it has never felt as intangible as during these last few years.
This year was bittersweet. With all the stresses of starting a new life in a new country-making new friends, finding a new job….there was a lot going on. And not all of it was nice. Then again, it was our first year of marriage, and despite all the things we had to go through this year, 2012 wasn’t all bad. It definitely had its high points! (Although I hope that next year will have more high points than low points, if I’m being honest).
I thought of doing a big month-by-month year in review, as I’ve done before, but I’m just not feeling it this year. I’d like to quietly say goodbye to the old, and welcome in the new with all the optimism and positivity I can muster.
Some personal highlights of my year:
Travel-Paris with my dearest Lindsey and my love Jon in June. Such an amazing trip, a dream, really, being there with two of my favorite people in the whole wide world. In April I took a long bus journey to Nottingham to see Penny-my first trip to the North of England! Exeter for a fancy -and soaking wet-summer wedding in July. A great Ohio visit with weddings and love in September.
As with so many other things, there are far more differences than one would think between America and England. And when it comes to the Christmas holidays, this is true too! Over the past several years I’ve noticed all the little differences that add up to a very different holiday experience, and here I have compiled them for you. Ta-da!
Movies: As we Americans know, the quintessential Christmas eve films are “A Christmas Story” (you’ll shoot yer eye out!) and the classic Dr. Seuss animated version of “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”. In the UK you get the much more staid “The Snowman”, which is mostly silent and only 30ish minutes long. Anticlimactic!
Treats for Santa: In England children leave a carrot for the reindeer, and a mince pie and some sherry (!!) for the fat man, while in the States we do cookies and milk, which seems far more wholesome if you ask me.
Songs: It seems to me that here in the UK the most popular holiday tunes (aka, the ones I hear allllll the timmmmeeee) are a few decades old: Slade and Band Aid and The Pogues seem to be on a never-ending loop, accompanied by Wham’s “Last Christmas”. In America I think Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is the big song of the season, and whatever other pop songs get released each year (NSYNC and Justin Bieber and Christina Aguilera singing their remakes of classics, plus dudes like Michael Buble doing the Xmas crooning thang). It seems that these, plus a sprinkling of traditional carols, like Silent Night and all of that, make up the American musical repertoire at the holidays. And don’t forget about Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby! (America skips the past few decades and heads straight for the fifties and sixties).
One of my favorite, warm-fuzzy Christmas memories from my childhood was our annual Christmas cookie making. My sister, my mom, my grandma and I, all piled in Grandma Monk’s tiny kitchen, the tiny old-fashioned radio blaring Grandma’s preferred tunes of the 50s and 60s, flour and powdered sugar and colored icing and cookie cutters everywhere. We made snowmen and trees, snowflakes and stars and santas, too. So many tuppperware boxes full of our productions, enough to last for weeks until there were only a few sad, stale little treats left.
I’ve made Christmas cookies every year, in every place I’ve found myself when the holiday season rolls around. It’s my little way of going back to that time, when I was young, in my grandmother’s kitchen, with my favorite women. And some day I’ll do it with my own kids-but that’s still pretty far away, I think.
This year Jon and I invited some of our friends over for some casual cookie making, accompanied by hot chocolate (with a bit of Bailey’s in it) and some mulled wine. We listened to some records, made high art (as seen above, some people are so artistic!) and watched some fun holiday movies and cooking shows on tv.