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10 years ago, we were in California. The twins were 3; Elliot was 5. We were getting ready to move to Mauritania, and we were spending our last American Christmas with Donn’s parents. I remember that I had a stomach flu on Christmas Eve, so although I’d prepared the baked French toast for breakfast, I didn’t get to eat any of it myself.

All of Donn’s family was there. We took a short trip to Mexico the week after Christmas, driving down the Baja peninsula to a small fishing town called San Felipe, where we ate wonderful food and found millions of sand dollars in the mud-brown sand, and bought cheap colourful souvenirs. The hand-painted fish mobile still hangs in one of the bathrooms of our current home. We spend New Year’s 2001 with friends in Santa Barbara, California, surfing and swimming, the twins wandering off hand-in-hand to collect bright green seaweed.

Intervening years have been very different. One year we went to Senegal with friends (Hi Karen!) and spent New Year’s by the side of pool in St. Louis, just the other side of the Senegal River. That trip, we drove on the dyke side rather than deal with the hassle of crossing the river by ferry; the dyke is only possible during the dry season. We saw warthogs and an enormous snake and myriad flocks of birds, all flown south for the winter, rising in waves above us; swallows and flamingos and cormorant and many many others.

One year we were in France, toasting the new year in whispers because my mother had just arrived and was sleeping off her jet lag. Her body was already ravaged by Parkinsons but we managed to have a great week anyway, pushing her wheelchair round the cobbled streets of the old town where we lived.

This year was exotic in its own way. The kids were excited that we cut down our own Christmas tree. Elliot was reluctant to relinquish the saw to anyone else—you could see he fancied himself a sort of Paul Bunyun, striding off into the forest, aka a tree farm near our house. Our tree has lots of charm. Gotten into the house, it was shorter and fatter than it appeared in nature, but that fits our family; we’re none of us tall and spindly ourselves.

We had a quiet but joyful Christmas day, and the following week was full of times with friends. LATE night time with friends. One family arrived on Thursday and left a couple of hours ago to head back to Canada; we worked with them in Mauritania and they were our first overnight visitors in our apartment in Rabat, and now our first overnight visitors in this house. “You’ll have to visit us next time we move too,” we said, and then everyone sort of moaned “…which better not be for a LOOOONG time!”

2010 saw the Nomad family on their sixth international move in 10 years. We’re settled in for now, hunkered down to enjoy a crisp wintery New Year’s in Portland. We celebrated quietly with our friends, playing U2 and the Juanitos on the stereo, eating artisanal cheeses and shortbread and fudge and too much in general. Tonight some other friends are taking us out for Chinese food, although I’m still full from brunch, even though that was about 6 hours ago now.

How was your New Year’s? What are your hopes for the new decade? I’m hoping it’s a bit less transient than the last one, but I expect it will be just as full of upheaval.

Oh and this IS the year I’m going to lose weight, exercise faithfully, and be incredibly patient and wise with my children always. No really. I can feel it.

January 2011

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