December Reckoning

How long did it take you after college to stop thinking about life in terms of semesters? I think it took me a couple of years, but the transition was rushed by having to negotiate with coworkers who could get vacation the week between Christmas and New Years instead of receiving it automatically during the school break.

This past week has felt a little like my freshman year of college. That year my dorm room was decorated with twinkle lights. Studying late at night for finals until mid-December. My soundtrack was U2’s Joshua Tree on repeat, but now I’m listening to a finely-tuned Pandora station.

Everything had to be finished by the week of finals, and then I packed my clothes and things into a couple of suitcases and traveled home. Except that it was half-home, because I was in the middle of settling into a new life somewhere else.

Next month right after the holidays, I’ll pack our clothes and things into a couple of suitcases and move the rest to a storage unit until we find somewhere new to settle. We’ll stay with family for a couple of weeks, and then make a short-term move to Florence for a couple of months, and then who knows where?

This December so far is filled with a happy amount of gift-giving, lights, Bible reading, and Christmas parties, but there’s also been a reckoning: I’ve had to deal with all my unfinished stuff before my self-imposed mid-December deadline, which is why late last night I worked on the filing (something which I haven’t had time to do all year). Because I’m sure not taking the filing with me.

Yes, this month has been partly about finishing projects that get pushed down the list when I’m busy working on bigger plans and daily life. Dentist appointment, new glasses, car maintenance, and filing. Deferred projects mingled with holiday lights and family outings, but there’s a hope of starting something new soon, like a brand new semester.

There’s something really satisfying about combining January tasks with December parties.

And so I look at the Christmas tree and think about how this will be the last time we decorate this apartment and this fireplace for the holidays, and how I won’t even have a true forwarding address. But I don’t care; I’m feeling bold, and that is nothing like my freshman year of college.

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Standing on the brink of adventure, combined with the excitement of the holidays, you must be full of adrenaline!
    I Live in an Antbed´s last post…The Death of a Neighbor

  2. Great post! I know how that feels – especially the stack of filing that I have put off for months. Ugg. I don’t know why I do that to myself. At any rate, I can’t wait to keep following your journey and seeing where you go next! Blessings and Merry Christmas!
    Carrie´s last post…Free Shipping

  3. Honestly, I think I stopped thinking in semesters before college ended!!! We actually were on the quarter system, so college flew by. I also commuted from home, which meant I would sleep on friend’s couches every night during the week, have a bag packed of clothes for the week, and just rough it each semester. Call me a mooch if you want, but I was just trying to be efficient!!!
    Doctor S´s last post…Follow Finance Friday Links With A Story

  4. This is so exciting! And yes, not getting Christmas vacation off was a very rude awakening. It still amazes me how hard it is for my husband to get it off (he’s in retail)! This is the first time in four years we’ll be able to travel somewhere for Christmas – hooray!

    And thank you for the encouragement yesterday :-)
    Kait Palmer´s last post…Preggers Aint No Picnic

  5. I think I still think of life in terms of semesters, which is odd because I graduated four years ago. I think it’s because in my job, holidays and summers are always a little slower so there is a relaxed feeling all around.

    Loved this post. I am SO excited for your adventure, so I can’t even imagine how excited y’all are!
    Rachel´s last post…My “Inconvenient” Morning

  6. This post made me grin so much! How electrifying! It all will get done. And beyond that? Here’s to ADVENTURE in 2011!
    Megan@SortaCrunchy´s last post…Peaceful Navigation of the Holiday Season- Relationships and Gifts

    • “it all will get done.” oh, many a time in life has been made tolerable by that phrase, from college papers written the night before they were due, to boxes packed for yet another move, to the contractions that brought me my daughter.

      and it’s so true.

      it all will get done.

  7. I would suggest if you are going overseas to put all your financial papers, tax returns from the past 10 years, spreadsheets on bills to still pay while over there, pay stubs, etc. on a computer to drop onto a flash drive to take with you in the event that something is misplaced or damaged on this side of the pond. Scanning is a good idea for birth certificates, licenses and other important paper items that could get lost or misplaced in the move, And then MARK the flashes as to what is on each. These are easier to carry than some articles and should be used as back up in moving. Just a thought.

  8. Florence ITALY? If not- pardon my ignorance; if yes- get thee to Assisi as well…so many wonderful places
    priest’s wife´s last post…A Study in Contrasts- Celibate or Married Priest Dinner

  9. What do you mean you won’t have an address – we know that you live “HERE” and here you will continue to live for us, for you and for God…

    Blessed Christmas to you All!

  10. One thing I loved about being in the service, was the moving on to the next duty station. I felt it was very freeing, getting rid of excessive “stuff”, and starting a new adventure.
    Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith´s last post…7 Quick Takes Friday Volume 24

  11. Oh you are so brave. When I left a job to babysit my darling grandchild, my other daughter gave me a stone enscribed “Courage”. It helped that she knew her weak kneeded mom. Change is so hard for me so I admire your bravery beyond belief plus I am totally envious at the same time. I would love to sell my house and just go to Tuscany! Just travel enough that I could then come back renewed and scratch one more thing off my huge bucket list. My husband won’t go anywhere, says he has done all he wants and he is only 66. Sad eh? So you are blessed to agree on this huge adventure and I wish you joy and love.

    • Judy have you seen the English movie “Shirley Valentine”? It’s a lovely, inspriational, bittersweet, liberating story about an older woman in a similiar situation to yours. It sprang to mind immediately when I read your post. Maybe you could get your husband to watch Oprah with you next year and get him on a plane to our beautiful land down under. Good luck!

  12. And get thee to Rome… in particular, St. Peter’s! :) Have fun!!!! I know you will.
    tacy´s last post…recording my youth

  13. It took me 3 years to stop thinking in semesters, and I still miss Christmas break! I always worked summers in college, so that isn’t such a big deal, but I miss miss miss time off at the holidays. (Doesn’t help that I work retail where holiday time off isn’t allowed, because it’s our busiest time of the year).

    But how exciting for you to have such a great reason for dealing with all those mundane, bottom of the to-do list tasks! I can’t imagine how exciting it would be to have Florence to look forward to!
    Jessicah´s last post…the babys on the move!

  14. That is one thing I love about being a stay at home mom. I still get to think in semesters! And oh do I love new beginnings. I was just talking to someone about that yesterday. Completing tasks and seeing it all through to the very end, not so much. So brava to you for doing both. It takes courage for one and endurance for the other. Good luck!
    Catherine´s last post…Mindfulness Or just not caring

  15. Jenni @ Life from the Roof says:

    My husband is a high school teacher, so our life (and vacations) are still lived in semesters. I kind of like it though – it give me permission to scale back at certain times, though there are some things you can’t take time off from when you have little kids :).

  16. Oh girl I feel ya. I just went through THE DRAWER and reorganized our filing. I shredded so much stuff that I have lots of bedding for our hen boxes and hopefully cleaner eggs. I also took a look at everything I had to shred, made a bookmark folder in Mozilla for all my bills and finances then found the paperless option for each one. So hopefully next year will be a nicer year for THE DRAWER and my shredder. Good luck on your adventure. My husband just lost his job of 18 years and two thirds of our income so we are embarking on an adventure of our own. Still… life is good ;)
    Lisa Medley´s last post…These little piggies went to market

  17. It’s exciting to think that soon you and your family will be off on a fantastic, memory making adventure — but maybe a little nerve wracking and sad, too? Leaving this familiar chapter of your life for a new, unknown one? Wishing you lots of love and praying the Lord remains your North Star, wherever you are at :)
    Lindsey´s last post…Waiting Again

  18. Oh the joy of living your dreams! Go for it Rachel & Doug! Life is an adventure…so pleased you are sharing your journey with us :)
    angelvalerie´s last post…the rules we live by…

  19. I just graduated from college (like, last week) so it’s good to know that it’s okay if it stays in my system for a while.

    I can’t even tell you how excited I am for you! Please please please keep us updated about your time in Italy. Good luck and travel safely!
    Jennie´s last post…A Simple Christmas

  20. I’m so excited for you! What an adventure. Wish I was that brave. I have six children and a school teacher husband. Moving abroad will not be in the cards for a very long time….if ever. So for now, I will live vicariously through you! Please keep us posted on every little detail of your adventure.

  21. I lived in Florence for a few months during a wonderful entire year in Italy. I’m jealous! You will love it!!! I’m jealous of those feelings of semesters again. Especially with a feeling of boldness!!! I wish you the best!!!

  22. I lived in Florence for a few months during a wonderful entire year in Italy. I’m jealous! You will love it!!! I’m jealous of those feelings of semesters again. Especially with a feeling of boldness!!! I wish you the best!!!

  23. I am also uprooting myself in the Spring of next year. This year has brought a life-changing moment when my husband of 23 years died. I’ve decided to scoot up the date of the move we were anticipating making next September to April. So I’ve been sorting-and-packing-and-oh-yeah-now-it’s-Christmasing since this past September, when I could stand to do so. I’ll be moving to San Antonio, nearer to my mom, who lost her partner, Joe, in March 2009.

    I’ve rather let everything Christmas get past me this year, mostly because if I dwell on it, I get sad. The relief of just doing nothing but baking has been amazing. Although, even that was a bit stressful, because I never made biscotti before, but it came out great. Even to the point of people saying I should start my own business! So who knows what I’ll get into once I get settled!

    I’m glad that Christmas is here and over, for the most part. I love Christmas and am looking forward to new Christmas traditions starting next year, road trips to relatives in Pennsylvania with Mom, and caroling in San Antonio on the Riverwalk. New adventures await me…so I’m letting this Christmas slide by, mostly unnoticed.

    Good luck in Florence, Rachel, Doug, Lane and Tom – may it be the adventure of a lifetime.