It’s 10AM as I am writing this. The morning started by making my family’s traditional Cranberry Fool (perhaps better known to some as a Cranberry Salad; a dish made of cranberries, crushed pineapple, orange juice and raspberry gelatine with a cream cheese topping) and getting the turkey into the oven and just generally revelling in the delight of having our first Christmas as a family.
Because, despite me having lived in the UK since 2013, that’s exactly what it is. My husband commented on how our lives had been affected by the Home Office yesterday, stating, “it feels like we’re still getting a fall-on ripple effect [from delays in getting my visa].” Being in a state of flux for so long, you tend to lose sight of what normal actually looks like.
Don’t get me wrong, holidays with my husband’s family are nice and all, but they were never really what I had come to see and feel holidays should be, savvy? Christmas never felt like Christmas without snow and Cranberry Fool. While we still don’t have the snow part, we’re at least bringing in our own traditions now and mingling them together like an awesome margarita (stirred, not shaken – we’ve had plenty of that already, thank you).
So there is turkey for dinner tonight and last night we had his family’s finger-food/snack spread of cheese, crackers and what I lovingly call meat-wrapped-in-breadstuff. As I mentioned, the turkey is in the oven after being thoroughly Scarborough Faire’d (i.e. it’s seasoned with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme… you’re welcome) and will be allowed to rest once it is done cooking so we can fit something else in the oven, as one turkey is about all it can take.
What else is in store for the day? Well, after waking up so early, presents were opened (of which the baby now has a certifiable dragon’s horde worth – with more still on the way) and assembled and played with in-between naps and…
Lots and lots of cooking. There are potatoes to “roast” (see: fry in goose fat in the oven), vegetables to steam, gravy to thicken, “starters” to start and Yorkshire puddings to… er… reheat from frozen. We’re not deluding ourselves with the notion that the token salad greens on our plates are going to be doing anything to offset the rest of the binge and more likely just sit there in silent (or I’d hope silent, talking greens are overrated) horror and judgement.
All this will be, of course, largely consumed by two adults. The not-yet-one year old will be sampling everything that gets passed to them, fair enough, but let’s not kid ourselves: the child cannot hold what an adult hopes to pack away, nor do I want to push them to try.
Beyond that, the festivities will be kept on a low-key, if not for any other reason than due to the simple fact that I, like many others, have work to go to in the morning. And I should be grateful for the fact that it’s only a 3/4th day. I’m not actually complaining, to be honest; I’m enjoying the work I’m doing, though I won’t go into any details here about it.
In any case, it’s turning into a happy blend of childhood memories and nostalgia for my husband and me. This year was everything I though it would be, perhaps even a bit more. As we’re swiftly approaching 2016, I’m at the point where I make some sweeping generalisations, ponder my successes and failures and take a stab at what the next year will hold for us.
It won’t be an easy ride. There are a lot of great things happening, to be sure, but as it stands there is a lot of room for improvement. Chief among them is the fact that I am now the main/only bread winner (as far as the Home Office is concerned, they don’t count my husband’s form of income as income in relation to income requirement… I’ll explain on another post, I promise) and I’m approximately £4,000 short of meeting that £18.6k goalpost… and I need to meet it at least six months before my visa is due for renewal. Ick and eek. There is still childcare for us to arrange since moving into South Yorkshire. And a first birthday party to plan. And redecorate the house (our landlord gave us permission. More on that another time, too). And my husband going back to school and, and, and…
You get the idea. Despite all that noise, I’m looking at 2016 and I still find myself thinking: you know what? This might not be so bad.
They say what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger, I don’t know if I believe that or not, but what I do know that once one becomes used to a certain degree of challenging, anything less difficult feels like an utter breath of fresh air. I’m coming to appreciate the hard times, in a way, not because of what they do to me, but by how my perspective changes and my capacity as a human being expands as a result.
If I could make a wish for the next year, I would wish that compared to the other years before it, it strikes the right balance of easy and hard and that we mend more bridges than we burn and that the world is at least a little bit better at the end of 2016 than it is at its start.
But perhaps most of all, I’d wish I’d actually get world peace when I ask for it. If I were to be honest with myself, 2016 will be less about personal experiences and more about everyone else. My story, by the most part, has been told. There need to be more places where those that can’t find a platform to speak get a chance to be heard. I want to host more guest bloggers, in short. Usual contact channels can be used if anyone is interested in being featured on Transplant Monologues. If you lack the confidence to write your own piece, I’ll also consider doing article requests about people or topics.
2016, here we come!