Turn Off The Lights On The Way Out

The end (of the year, geez; don’t be so dramatic) is neigh! At the end of 2013, I predicted that my 2014 would be more bull-than-bronco. For all of the ups and downs that we experienced in that time, I think it’s fair to say that my guess was not far off.

As I review and take stock of all the losses and gains, as I am prone to do at the coming of a new year, while I find that my personal life is (okay, not perfect) at least looking up some… I can’t say that holds true for a lot of people, for a variety of reasons.

In the UK, at the end of 2014, there are more people who are and will be homeless; more people in sub-livingwage jobs or sanctioned to the point of destitution; more people needing help from foodbanks; more sick or injured people waiting longer for an ambulance and/or a bed at the A&E; more people at risk of going without heating. Yet, the response from the UK Government seems to be akin to one putting their fingers into their ears and singing “la-la-la-la” to drown out the cries of the vulnerable. Why do I say that? Well, the best example is how the Liberal-Democrats betrayed the poorest voters in the UK by voting to keep the bedroom tax.

Given that the promises that have been made for the 2015 elections in May are already being shown to be pure lip-service, I’m thinking that now is a great time to remind people (not that they needed to be, mind) that politicians will promise anything if they think it will win votes and they are under no obligation to actually commit to any of them once elected. Don’t believe me? Just ask the Conservatives, though I don’t expect them to give you an honest answer since they’ve tried to erase it all from the internet.

Before anyone gets the idea in their head that I’m somehow anti-voting; I’m not suggesting that people do not turn out and vote come their next election. In fact, quite the opposite – I would dearly love for as many people as possible to vote. If only because, it is only when there is a low turn out that jerk-wads like UKIP actually get seats. So, while I suspect he wouldn’t care too much about my opinion on the matter, this is one thing Russell Brand and I will never agree on. The closest he will ever get from me is “don’t vote uninformed” – FFS, at least read the manifesto for the party/candidate before deciding. Very little will chafe me under the collar quite like people who don’t even know who or what they’re voting in. It’s alarming how common that is these days. If you’re lucky, the person in question knows one or two policies the candidate is supporting/has supported. I repeat: If you’re lucky.

But that was 2014 for you and now I really need to start looking ahead to 2015. Looking back should really only be for nostalgia’s sake; especially since (to make use of a saying I’ve heard recently) I’m not going that way.

2015 has a lot of potential for my family, I feel; as I mentioned before I’m far from being in the worst situation in the world and there are a great many others less fortunate than I have been. I can’t be ungrateful for that. We cha-cha’d and zigzagged a lot in 2014 in the hopes that 2015 would give us the freedom to move forward with our lives in ways that we were not able to do before. So I while I am no optimist by any measure, I feel that I can realistically see a lot of good things to come. 2014 was an uphill slog-fest, come 2015 I hope that we have crested the top of that mountain and it will be a wild ride downhill from here.

“But what about the holidays? Aren’t you going to talk about that at all?” To be honest, I don’t really know what to say or how to say it. Perhaps one thing I can add to my original observations back in 2013 regarding my husband’s family’s traditions is that their twelve-days-of-Christmas actually starts 12 days before Christmas, not on the event day itself. Apparently it is considered unlucky to have decorations and whatnot shorter/longer than that. In truth, I had hoped to be in a position to try to integrate and form a merge of traditions between the two of us this year, but… yeah… in a lot of ways, life happened and that wasn’t exactly possible. Perhaps this is the reason why, despite actually being healthy this holiday season (I was nursing a cold this time last year), I decidedly am lacking in the festive spirit department. I’m not being a grouch or grinch, don’t get it twisted; it just doesn’t really feel like the holidays to me.

There is a certain amount of homesickness that should be declared here, I feel. I only say so because the song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas (If Only In My Dreams)” when it came on in the copious amounts of seasonal music that has been playing reduced me to tears when it came on.

That says something, especially so given the fact that Christmas really isn’t my holiday. I don’t need to get into how normal, how common, homesickness can be for immigrants (or anyone who finds themselves away from close friends and family for extended periods of times). Some feel it more keenly than others, some less, to be sure – but it is still a very normal thing to experience and it’s important to acknowledge it.

It’s, all-in-all, rather anticlimactic and unremarkable, I know. Far from an epiphany, to be sure, but that’s the best answer I can give anyone who was curious about the more religious holiday experiences this year. This is the last time, I swear, I will deviate from the topic in this post (and possibly for the year).

In closing: no one really knows what to expect in the future. When all is said and done; regardless of how optimistic/pessimistic/realistic one chooses to be at the start of a new year, all that matters is how one deals with the things that come their way. We will always have things that we will look back at and say “I/we could have done that better,” sure, but dwelling on it isn’t helpful if that’s all we’re going to do.

Learning from the experience is far more important in my mind. And I’ve learned a lot this year. I measure the person I was last year to the person I am this year, and I feel a sense of pride in how much I’ve grown as a human being. My capacity and understanding has expanded exponentially – and yet, there is still so much more I have to learn. Call me what you like (I heard a “nerd” somewhere, and I’ll wear it like a badge of honour, thank you), but to me that’s pretty exciting.

So, to the last one leaving 2014: shut off the lights on the way out, would you? I can’t speak for the rest of you, but I’m not wasting any more energy on it – 2015 has plenty for me to do, as is.

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