A Very Different Christmas

December 23, 2020 400 views

Just one of the many Aussie expats sitting in cold NYC missing home, watermelon by the pool, the salty beach air and of course the long summer nights spent with beloved family and amazing food this holiday season.

The holidays always comes with some time to reflect on the year that’s been; and what a dumpster fire it’s been. But dumpster fire aside, this Christmas is looking to shape up very differently. We’re so lucky that we have everyone with us still and we’re very grateful for all the wonderful blessings in our life. But instead of the regular 2 months off that we usually take over the break, we’re experiencing the very American Christmas by having a whole two days off work. We’re getting a taste of the whole #LiveToWork vibe. (Don’t rate it.) But even that has been a blessing in disguise – work has given us something to focus on and keep our minds occupied while the rest of the country has been burning down around us.

When Remi and I initially moved to America we had made a pact that no matter what, we would make an effort to be with family (either his or mine) during the holidays. Welp. I regretfully report that it’s not going to plan this year – but has anything?

November was a particularly miserable month. Nothing at work was especially exciting, the cold bite turned on us really quickly, the days were getting super short with the sun setting at 4:30pm and realizing that I hadn’t been outside in 5 days would be a regular occurrence. Then December rolled around and Remi had bought me a wine advent calendar… so things were looking up.

But then we got word that there was adoption interest for the little foster cat we had been looking after for four months. Shadow, came to us with a terrible (name), a terrible coat that was full of dandruff, overweight and low on energy. We swiftly renamed Shadow to Burrito and began his weight loss journey in the hopes that he would turn into a little Taco by the time he was ready for adoption. We researched special siamese diet food and found some intensely moisturizing siamese shampoo to kickstart his journey.

Early into his time with us, we had found our new routine – Burrito would come wake me up for breakfast and then he’d have his morning brush and his first play date of the day. (When we heard that Jill and Joe were looking to adopt a foster cat, we would joke every morning that Burrito would have his daily grooming session to become “White-House-Ready”. I had even reached out to the Biden campaign team on Insta introducing Burrito to them and I’d sent over very endearing photos of him sleeping with his tongue out. ) After his daily grooming, Burrito would take a little nap during the work morning; we’d meet in the kitchen for lunch before returning to work / nap time in the study. Our second playdate was either before or after dinner – or sometimes both. By the end of the four months, Burrito was running around the apartment and would pounce into action whenever he realised it was playtime. Burrito became so part of our lives that I even had the opportunity to introduce him to the entire AMER HLS organisation on an all-hands work call 😂

The adoption came up very quickly. Wednesday night we received a text asking if we could interview the potential foster mum the next morning at 11am. We did – and she was wonderful. She fell in love with Burrito over FaceTime and we were convinced they were the perfect match… we hated it!

That night we were going backwards and forwards all night wondering if we should adopt Burrito. It was so hard to think about giving him away. We had ultimately decided that his new foster mum was so lovely and that Burrito would have a much better and settled life with her than with us. But it was so heartbreaking! I cried and cried and cried and then laughed at how silly I was being and then cried some more. 20 minutes before Burrito was going to be picked up, I turned to Remi and said we had to adopt him – there was no way I could give him up. I cried and cried some more but then thought about his foster mum who was so excited. She had rushed out to the pet shop in anticipation for Burrito’s arrival and had asked us for all his favourite toys, scratch pads and food. She’d gone to so much effort to make sure that Burrito would have a smooth transition – there was no doubt that these two would have a wonderful life together.

Since the handover, the apartment has felt a little empty. Cats are wonderful little companions, are half the work of dogs and although they don’t fill the room with energy the same way dogs do, the connection between a little cat-soul and a human can be just as strong (if not stronger).

I had initially thought that this Christmas would be Remi, Burrito and me – but that didn’t turn out to plan either! So despite handing over both Blu and Burrito for adoption, cancelling our wedding, cancelling our honeymoon and not be able to hug my loved ones for over a year; I’m still very grateful for the year that was 2020 – because I know that 1.73 million people weren’t as lucky and perspective has always helped me through, especially during these difficult times away from home.

There are a few resilient expats left in NYC and we’re planning to have our own Orphan’s Christmas together – of course requiring 10 days of self isolation and presenting a negative COVID test as your ticket in. 😉

So no matter how shitty your 2020 was and no matter how you’re spending the holidays this year – whether it turned out according to plan or not; I hope you’re safe, happy and healthy. Better days are coming for us all ❣️

Big love xxx

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