New Year

Here it is Twelfth Night (or the day after Twelfth Night, depending on which day you start counting). Besides it being the name of one of my favorite Shakespeare plays and the date my husband firmly beliefs that all the Christmas decorations have to be down, it doesn’t usually affect me much. Today, though, I find myself wanting to bake a king cake, make wassail (whatever it is), sing a few songs, and extend the holiday a little bit more. It also happens to be the one-year anniversary of the shocking attack on the Capitol, which I still can’t wrap my head around or begin to manage my rage that it was possible this happened in my home country. But that’s a whole different post.  And although, I’m not sure I’ll get around to baking today, I still want to feel festive.

Our holidays were pretty uneventful this season. Not surprising – it was the end of the second year of the pandemic with rising cases and a brand-new variant, we had some recent family losses, and had a late stage cancellation of the annual family Christmas present exchange. (It wasn’t Grinch-y; we had just lost my uncle and waited too late to get organized. And, although it wasn’t my sole decision, I’m the one who sent out the email so my niece accused me of canceling Christmas).  Quiet as it was, it was nice. We had a couple of great meals with my in-laws. These small gatherings were perfect touchstones for the time.

New Year’s Eve was a movie at home, a nice glass of wine, and a baked cheese-y thing – there has been a lot of cheese in the house lately. Partly because we had planned a couple of raclette dinners with friends that we had to cancel due to Covid. So, we’re still working our way through that cheese as well as the initial backup cheese we had to buy when there was no raclette cheese to be found due to supply chain issues. If you don’t know, raclette is a type of cheese and a raclette dinner is basically this delicious cheese melted over potatoes served with gherkins and various bits on the side. I discovered the meal in Switzerland and was so excited to buy a cook set a few years ago. Our set has individual trays to melt slices of cheese under a grill and a hot stone on top to warm potatoes or cook veg (me) or a meat (hubs) on clearly demarcated sides. You have to drink wine (or tea) with it, otherwise I was warned that the cheese would form a ball in your tummy. I’ve never had to test that theory.

I don’t think of myself as superstitious, but on New Year’s Day, I have two that I am compelled to follow: never spend the day doing chores like cleaning or laundry (or you’ll spend the year that way), and always eat black-eyed peas for luck (this is a family insistence, but I know there’s more to that story). So New Year’s Eve day, I cleaned the house (for the first time in weeks—we had to keep canceling plans so no one was coming over). I changed the sheets. I got everything prepped. Then in the morning of New Year’s Day, I made veggie sausage Breakfast Braid, sneaking in black-eyed peas, and then we went to the ocean. Going to the seaside makes me so happy. The smell of the salt in the air, the sound of the surf, and the hypnotic way the waves roll in bring peace to my heart. I took off my shoes, rolled up my leggings and dipped my toes. The water was ridiculously cold so I couldn’t stay long, and the rocky beach was murder on my feet, but I didn’t regret it for a second.

The last few days have been easing back into a bit of routine. My husband is closing down the end of year accounts with his job, while I monitor the performance of the recently-published last book in my trilogy and spend the rest of my time clearing, decluttering, and organizing our house for an upcoming transatlantic move. And let me tell you, we have so much stuff. We’re not taking everything because it’s just for a few years, but this means I’m going to have to decide which books I’m taking with me. I’m dreading going through them all and having to pick. I have been ignoring that part and concentrating on everything that needs to fixed in the house and boring stuff like filing and getting things ready for the charity shop donations. Necessary but not exciting. So, yeah, I want to have one more day of festive, one more day to pretend we’re still on holiday. Maybe I won’t figure out wassail this year, but I know we have cheese and potatoes.

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