By the time I got to the shops on December 26th, the Christmas decorations were completely gone and it felt like a mercy.
I’ve been homesick often this year. There are always times that trigger it for me, but this year has been particularly bad for prompting it. There were the friends flitting in from summer last February and the morning sickness in March when the only foods I really wanted were from Australia. There was my uncle’s death in April and the funeral I couldn’t attend, the challenge of moving in May and the alienating prenatal classes in July. There was the partial bedrest in September, where I binge-watched “Offspring” and saw scene after scene featuring the streets of my home city. Then, October gave way and there was the shock of November, of feeling lost and oh so alone as I clutched my newborn and wished desperately that I could be finding my way as a mother in Melbourne instead of realising yet again the impossibility of picking up mine and R’s lives here and putting them down in my homeland instead.
And now, December, and with it has come its own difficulties. December is Christmas and Christmas is huge for my family. Normally, this is when I actually do go home and I have watched the dates tick by, remembering what I might usually be doing. Now I would be flitting off to an Asian city, now I would be landing in Melbourne. It’s Christmas Eve and I would be bored and restless now, and then I would be shaking my head with my family at just how crap Carols by Candlelight has become. Christmas Day itself was a bit of everything. This is when I would be opening presents. The carols would be playing. This is when we’re having Christmas lunch. By now we’ve all retreated to our rooms to rest and it’s all effectively done.
All of that is what I think of when I think of Christmas, and this year I haven’t had it. I did try. I sent some Christmas cards, bought presents, and eventually put up the tree. I even wrote about Christmas in Japan, more than once. The problem is that my baby is only just turning two months old tomorrow and we’re all still adjusting. If November was about learning to cope, December has been about pulling some threads of normalcy out of the chaos and setting about carrying out what is now regular life. While I have wanted badly to get into the festive spirit, actually planning to do so kept sinking beneath the dishes and a mountain of laundry and sleep on what feels like a neverending to-do list.
It’s easier now that we’re on the other side. It’s the 28th now and that means I would normally be focused on getting ready to return to Japan, rushing around organizing whatever it is I need that I won’t have ready access to for another year. On the 30th, I will imagine packing and panicking and crying through all the goodbyes I must clear before I can even get near customs.
Maybe I’ll feel some relief at that point. If there’s an upside to missing out on a trip home this year, it’s not having to go through the dismay of having said trip draw to an end. December will give way to January and then I can focus on next year and the trip that may, can, must happen then instead.