The Setting: Sitting at the kitchen table with Kashi and coffee.
The Soundtrack: the Christmas album by Point of Grace, almost certainly to be followed up with Amy Grant: A Christmas Album
Steaming up the Oven: Snickerdoodles
The Scenario: Tomorrow my husband and I will be in the car for fifteen hours straight, and we couldn't be more excited.
After almost five months, far away from family and friends, we are heading home to Nashville for a much-needed winter break and our first Christmas as a married couple.
The two-week trip will be my husband's well-earned first vacation since beginning the job that brought us to South Florida, but for me it will be a time of reflection, re-focus, and decision making.
The back story....
When we left Nashville I was a straight-A student in culinary school, an internship-short of graduating with a technical certificate.
I had planned to remain enrolled in my culinary program after the move and find a job in our new neighborhood that would meet my internship requirements.
After unpacking and setting up house, I immediately called on diners and bakeries, cafes and hotels, grocery stores and restaurants, chasing kitchen work wherever I would find it.
But as the sun set on August the fall semester started, and my luck never did.
I don't know if the economy can be blamed for my misfortune, but I'll certainly welcome the convenient scapegoat.
With the internship off my radar, I began looking into non-culinary work.
I avidly applied for administrative positions and signed up for job alerts from the companies and fields I was most interested in.
September and October brought no response to my fervent flirtations. November marked the end of a two-week courtship with a company I was certain would ask me to go steady. I didn't even get a Dear John letter.
It was becoming clear that I would have to start looking for any and all signs reading Help Wanted.
But as the crickets grew louder and the calendar drew closer to December, the more I dodged the idea of a part-time retail fling, knowing it would put my plans of coming home for Christmas on layaway till next year.
I decided instead to dedicate my unemployment to worthy projects like portfolio-building and culinary exploration--just until I returned from Christmas vacation, and then I'd resume the job search.
With renewed spirit, I researched cooking techniques, developed and refined recipes, wrote articles as Questiongirl on HubPages.com, and started this blog.
But now my time is up.
Tomorrow I will gaze out the window of my sedan as the orange groves along the Florida Turnpike fade into frosty Georgia peach trees and roll into the rocky hills of Tennessee, and I will wonder what is in store for me when their order is reversed.
But for two weeks, while I contemplate, there will be Jared, mom, dad, Terry, Terri, Trevor, Read, Becky, Sebastien, Dina, Harvey, Jennifer, Josh, Stephanie, Tara, Kristen, and all the friends I can't wait to catch up with over Christmas cookies, cocoa, eggnog, or red wine.
Whatever I do when I return from Nashville, and whether or not the weatherman gives us a "forecast snowy white" while I'm in town, I'm very much looking forward to what the great Amy Grant would call a Tender Tennessee Christmas.