December: Celebration and Reflection

December: Celebration and Reflection

For most people – myself included – December is a flurry of activity, but it’s also a time of reflection and renewal in preparation for the year ahead.

How I Spent December

Celebration

I kicked off the month of a low-key Travel Massive Boston happy hour at a bar downtown. Then there were holiday parties, of course – an afternoon “Yankee Swap” at work and an evening get together with fellow Syracuse University alumni. I  also enjoyed a lot of the holiday festivities throughout the city like the annual tree lighting on Boston Common followed by the Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll, during which Charles St. is closed to cars, and you can pop in and out of shops while enjoying refreshments.

a festive home in the South End of Boston, Massachusetts
a festive home in the South End

Friends and I also toured five decked-out houses in my neighborhood on the South Boston Christmas House Tour, which benefits Catholic Charities, and wandered around the SoWa Winter Market and surrounding shops in the South End neighborhood. I finally took in a performance of the Slutcracker, a burlesque version of the Nutcracker that’s been running at the Somerville Theater for 12 years. It was… eye opening.

And even though I didn’t see my family for Christmas – it’s the first time in my adult life I didn’t travel to New Jersey for the holiday – my dad came up to visit me for a few days and help me with some house chores. Then the day after Christmas, I met up with my cousins, who were passing through Boston, for lunch and a visit to the Faneuil Hall tree.

Tonight, on the last night of the month/year/decade, I’m going to gather with close friends for an Italian dinner in Boston’s Seaport District. It’s become our annual tradition – and the best part is that we’re usually home by midnight.

a place setting at one of the homes on the South Boston Christmas House Tour in Boston, Massachusetts
a place setting at one of the homes on the South Boston Christmas House Tour

Reflection

“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.” – J.R.R. Tolken*

I read an article recently that encouraged conducting a personal “annual review.” While that seems a bit too intense, I do agree it’s a good practice to look back on the year and consider what went well and what wasn’t so great, as well as give some thought to any goals you’ll shoot for in the year ahead. 

For me, I’m trying to spend more time acknowledging the things in my life that I’m thankful for (In November I talked about how I’m terrible at keeping a daily gratitude journal, so this is more about being mindful in the moment). I’m also trying to exercise more – I joined a gym recently, so that’s a good start – and I want to get back into a reading routine again.  

Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner in East Boston, Massachusetts
Christmas Eve dinner at a friend’s house in East Boston they also are Italian and celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes

Professionally, I’m starting the year in a good place after a bit of a setback during 2019, when I tried out a full-time job that turned out to be a bad fit. I now have a solid contract job working with very nice people, and I have several rewarding nonprofit consulting projects on the side. As always, I’m trying to strike a healthy balance between work and rest (that’s one of my biggest challenges).

More than anything, I’m focusing on nurturing my personal relationships – calling friends and family more often, and trying to spend more time with them. While I enjoy traveling solo to far-flung destinations, I’ve learned that spending a low-key weekend at a friend’s house can be much more meaningful in the long run.

* I love revisiting this quote, especially during this time of year.

What I’m Listening To

In addition to the numerous true crime podcasts that I listen to daily – My Favorite Murder, Casefile, Crime Junkie, the list goes on – I’ve enjoyed two others this month that both entertained and informed me. One was The Dream, which is an exposé of MLMs (mid-level marketing companies, i.e. Avon, Beachbody, Young Living), and Dolly Parton’s America about Saint Dolly’s influence on music and culture. 

travel books section at More Than Words book store in the South End of Boston, Massachusetts
travel books section at More Than Words book store in the South End

What I’m Reading

As I mentioned above, I haven’t been very good about reading this year, unfortunately – I only managed  to read 12 books, more than ½ less than usual. I’m currently reading Library Book by Susan Orlean, which chronicles a disastrous 1986 fire at Los Angeles Public Library, and next on my list for January book club is Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, which I’ve wanted to read for some time.

What I’m Watching

I’m usually not in one place long enough to get into any TV shows, but I finally decided to check out the Netflix show Schitt’s Creek this month. I was instantly hooked and have since binged the first three (of five) seasons. It’s delightful, and I’m dreading it coming to an end. 

Old South Church in Copley Square of Boston, Massachusetts
Old South Church in Copley Square

What’s Next for January

January is going to be a jam-packed month, so good thing I’m feeling relatively rested despite the busy month. I’ll ring in the New Year here in Boston, then every weekend is booked. Here’s what I’m doing:

  • Heading to New Jersey to visit my family 
  • Speaking on a blogging panel at the Boston Travel & Adventure Show
  • Meeting up with former roommates in Minneapolis (Yes it will be freezing!)
  • Attending TravMedia’s IMM (International Media Marketplace) in New York City
  • Exploring the Catskills (New York) with my friend Jen of Coleman Concierge
the holiday tree at Faneuil Hall in Boston, Massachusetts
the tree at Faneuil Hall

What’s in Store for 2020

I have two domestic trips booked already for this spring to sunny and warm locations – L.A. and Miami. I’m hoping to squeeze in one international trip in May – perhaps to Eastern Europe? – and then a larger trip in August. My friend Ric aka Global Gaz is organizing a Madagascar tour through G Adventures. Since I’m anxious to get back to Africa, and seeing the baobabs is on my bucket list, I’m hoping I can make that work in terms of work and finances.

Also – I’m setting this goal here and now – I’m determined to visit the German Christmas markets next December. This has been a “bucket list” item for years, and I’ve yet to make it happen.

Finally, thank you.

Thanks to everyone who read and shared my posts in 2019. This blog is certainly a labor of love, and I appreciate every ounce of support that I receive. 

Banner image: Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park in Boston’s North End


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