02 January 2014

Hooray, hooray for a new year!

This past year has been bloody hard. It has been filled with many accomplishments of which I am rather proud, but hopefully Future Expatova will be less ambitious than Past Expatova and decide to space out some of these exciting events over a few years - or even decades - rather than a few short months.

Also, while I love my in-laws and really appreciate all of their help and support, I really, really hope imposing ourselves, our cats, and all our earthly goods on them for a few months (ehem, FIVE) on end won't be necessary ever again.

So, in other words, good riddance to 2013. May you never be repeated.

I've spent all but one of the past eight Christmases in Prague and so in some ways, this year was very much in keeping with our traditional celebrations. We had the mandatory four days of family, food, cookies and bubblies which were invariably followed by several days of anti-social recovery time. We also got the time-honoured cold/flu which has graced us for nearly every Christmas (so it seems it wasn't something we caught on the plane after all).

In between all of our busy social events, cleaning the house, entertaining Smalls, baking cookies, trooping to the post office, and other vital holiday activities, I snuggled down in bed with handkerchiefs, tea, and cough drops and read my rather battered copy of Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island. It was Mr. Bryson's reflections on the UK that first helped me settled into life in England when I stumbled upon his book seven years ago with his fond and pithy observations on all that is lovely and annoying about the UK.

And this year, my second reading of it helped me let go of England.

I was surprised with how much the fact that we weren't going back to England at the end of the Christmas holidays has made me feel melancholic and a little lost. So, while we celebrated Christmas pretty much the same as usual, the fact that we were, in fact, celebrating at home was odd. And it was very strange to meander through Prague at Christmas (a very lovely sight even without snow) and have it be my Prague all lit up and bursting with people. None of this was in any way bad. And certainly, avoiding airports at Christmas has been glorious. And snuggling in my own bed when battling the Holiday Cold has been extra nice. But it's all so strange, new and not-new at the same time.

As I mentioned before, I've been struggling with a frustratingly illogical homesickness for England. I keep hoping I'll find some sort of magical single explanation for it - such as that my homesickness is really just me missing cheddar cheese or buses that don't come on time or living close to a large body of water or maybe even a chemical side effect of the persistent black mould finally getting out of my system. Something ideally that can be remedied by more cheese consumption or a disregard for tram timetables or possibly a series of very cold and salty baths.

While the root of my England-sickness seems to be caused my more than just a single thing, the remedy to my homesickness seems to be composed of Notes from a Small Island, lots of tea, and very relaxing New Year's celebrations at the family's cottage in the woods. I have entered 2014 as a new woman, my friends, and ready to properly settle into this new phase of life.

Note to L.: this is not to say that I don't think you should sponsor me for a grand 7 week tour of the UK, as it would seem Bryson's wife did. And she single-handedly looked after their four children while he did it. Just saying....

Note to others: L. largely sponsored my reading and recovering time by uncomplainingly getting up with Smalls and also bought me two kittens as compensation for his month-long work-trip to India several years ago and therefore, I am not looking to replace him with Mrs. Bryson any time in the future. 

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