December's been an odd month. I've dealt with a lot of phantom anxiety, found sudden motivation to nail down my new thesis, /and/ found great peace. Christmas last year was a great mess with too much going on and too many emotions in play, but this year has been almost surprisingly calm. I went all out with decorations, wore glittery red nail polish all month, and decided to spend the holiday with A and his family.
Coming from a divorced family spread out over two continents, I've spent a lot of holidays away from "home," but I'd never spent one away from at least part of my family. I didn't quite know what to expect (despite films like The Family Stone telling me to expect disaster), but I know I certainly did not expect everything to feel natural and easy. The short week was surprisingly anxiety-free, and everything about it felt right. Nothing awkward, despite my having interacted with sixteen different people in only a few days! I'm still a socially quiet cookie, so I didn't suddenly start chatting with everyone I met, but I still managed with only one little withdrawal into A's room in the middle of only one of the dinner parties.
My favorite bit though –– other than the moments where I introduced A to a few of my favorite Christmas films (A Charlie Brown Christmas! Miracle on 24th Street! The Year Without a Santa Claus!) –– was when we went on a long walk with A's mom through the countryside near their house. It wasn't a hike by any means, but we passed beside fields and vineyards and walked through part of a forest, and it brought back memories from when I used to go on hikes with my grandparents when I was little. It was brilliant and got rid of all the "athletic" fears I had when I first met A. I'd repressed how much I enjoyed doing things outside over the past decade or so, but now I'm actually excited to think of hikes or maybe even skiing again. We'll see what time brings...
Otherwise, I really enjoyed getting out of the city for a bit and getting to know more of A's family. I also managed to make pancakes for ten people one morning, and I feel oddly proud of myself. Even that wasn't hard (and was even enjoyable?!) and again, excitement! I'm so thankful this year has brought my love of the kitchen back to life.
Here's to more anxiety-free holidays in the future...
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I'm Olivia, a twenty-six year old grad student studying in Switzerland. This is where I share my thoughts on the academic journey, culture, travels, baking, and my daily life abroad. Read More.