Wrapping Up 2016

A few updates to wrap up the year that was.

We spent Christmas week in Prague. That was a bit star-crossed. My daughter and I managed to miss our flight from Milan and spent the first night in an airport hotel, joining my husband and son a day late. Then I caught some awful crud (maybe from spending 24 hours in an airport?) and was pretty much couch-bound for the 25th and 26th. I’m still coughing now. Yeah, I’m that person who takes weeks to get over every cold. It’s good thing I travel a lot, right?

But, Prague is as beautiful as ever, most things were open most of the time (unlike Warsaw, which is basically shuttered for three days straight over the holiday) and there were great Christmas markets. Most importantly, both our kids were there: we realize that might be harder to accomplish during the holidays from now on!

Now that's a Christmas market.
Now that’s a Christmas market. Not pictured: mulled wine and a band playing “progressive medieval music.” They were kind of awesome.

So, on the whole, I’m calling it a win. However, I am glad that my next Christmas does not have to involve an elaborate and expensive travel plan in order to be not a complete bummer joyful.  I’m really looking forward to going back to celebrating Christmas Muggle-style next year: cooking and decorating marathons, last-minute shopping, crazy relatives, tacky lights and all.

We know we’ll be in our home next Christmas, because we’ve changed our plans (again). Over the vacation we listened to our kids’ lobbying efforts, did some discussing and soul-searching, and decided that we are going back to DC after all.

Opening the field to other countries was just acting out of habit, in a weird, Foreign Service way. You do this long enough and even crazy decisions start to seem normal. But other stuff starts to seem normal, too. Like being about a million miles away from family members. And insane stress levels surrounding every move. These aren’t actually normal conditions. They may be worth it for a while, but no one can endure them forever.

There’s a reason FSOs are eligible for retirement after 25 years. We’re clocking out at 29, thankful for the pension which gives us space to breathe before moving on to the next stage. This time, we’re deciding where we are going to live, and letting the job follow us, instead of the other way around. Now that’s different!

It’s a genuine relief to know where I’m going to be in a few months. And while this plan closes off some options, it opens others, at least for me. I can now start thinking about what I want to do with myself in a country where I speak the language and don’t need a work permit. I’m cool with that. 🙂

2016 was not a year I would care to repeat. Here’s to a much better 2017!

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