My Holiday Wish List

I’ve been thinking about the lists of wonderful gifts children wish for when the holiday season rolls around, and what I would want on my list if I could have any of those gifts delivered, as if by magic.

For one thing, I would want to have a prodigious memory so that my consecutive renditions were always effortlessly flawless. I would never have to worry about forgetting a term and would learn new ones in the blink of an eye, so I would have the most extensive vocabulary any interpreter could ever wish for.

With my extraordinary memory, I would learn about any subject matter, and all the special terminology related to that subject, without ever having to create a glossary. I would never have to worry about studying before a trial, either. It would all be there, ready for me to recall any time I wanted to.

I would also wish for the gift of learning new languages with ease, so I could speak and read and understand all those languages I always wanted to learn and for one reason or another never did. Oh, I confess I started to learn French at different points in my life, and Portuguese too, but I never got beyond the most basic lessons. I love not only the sounds of the different vowels and consonants, but also the cadences that give each language its unique identity. I would learn them all, if I could: Japanese, Quechua, Tagalog, German, Arabic, Italian… if I could have that gift.

Perhaps lower on the list but still particularly important would be a floor-to-ceiling library of books to read just for the pleasure of reading and the time to actually sit down and relax with a book in my hands with nothing else to think or worry about. I would want all the classics and all the young new writers I have never even heard of. I would want to read the ones in English and the ones in other languages (yes, the new languages I am going to be learning!). I like to read fiction, so this is not going to be a “learning” library; this is going to be my leisure library, my escape library, my place to “suspend disbelief” and dive head-first into the myriad worlds created by the writers.

Of course, this wish list is my grown-up version of a kid’s “Letter to Santa” and both me and the kid have about the same chances of getting what’s on that list. But it’s always fun to dream.

So… what’s on your holiday wish list?


Feature photo by Adonyi Gábor from Pexels. Body text photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels.


Janis Palma has been a federally certified English<>Spanish judiciary interpreter since 1981. Her experience includes conference work in the private sector and seminar interpreting for the U.S. State Department. She has been a consultant for various higher education institutions, professional associations, and government agencies on judiciary interpreting and translating issues. She worked as an independent contractor for over 20 years in federal, state and immigration courts around the U.S. before taking a full-time job. Janis joined the U.S. District Courts in Puerto Rico as a staff interpreter in April 2002 and retired in 2017. She now lives in San Antonio, Texas, embracing the joys of being a grandmother. She also enjoys volunteering for her professional associations, has been on the SSTI and TAJIT Boards, and is currently on the NAJIT Board of Directors. Contact: jpalma@najit.org

Read other posts by Janis Palma.

10 Comments
  • Maria Baker
    Posted at 22:05h, 11 December Reply

    The assurance that I can pass the ATA certification exam… I don’t mind paying for it or taking it (so, I don’t wish for automatic certification), but I want to know that I’m finally ready to take it and pass it. I guess a simple way to put it is “confidence in my own skills”.

    • Janis Palma
      Posted at 00:16h, 12 December Reply

      That’s a good one, Maria. Confidence in your own skills, not just to pass one test—any test—but to do the job you set out to do every single day.

  • Carmen Mustile
    Posted at 00:17h, 12 December Reply

    On my list I would have only one entry! ….. a coach that would land me his/her patience and guide on drafting a plan tailored to my needs, a plan to prepare and guide me to take the master level of court interpreting. I know I am capable of honing my skills for the test, I can’t focus on making a plan. I feel driven to distraction by my own curiosity about several subject matter, and the pressure of being locked at home…

    • Janis Palma
      Posted at 22:22h, 12 December Reply

      Hi Carmen! I think a coach (and a plan) would be on a lot of interpreters’ list. Thank you for sharing that!

  • (Piti) Diana-Beatriz Katz Biro
    Posted at 10:09h, 12 December Reply

    Wishes shared, including the confidence factor.
    Happy, Healthy Holy Holidays.

    • Janis Palma
      Posted at 22:24h, 12 December Reply

      Indeed, Piti, happy holidays to you too!

      • CL Morgan
        Posted at 07:09h, 28 December Reply

        Janis, you have put words to my wish list– I want EXACTLY what you wrote! Thank you for so eloquently expressing what I try to explain to non-interpreters, who wonder why I’m always studying, and who say things like “Can’t you just relax and enjoy the movie without a pen?”

  • Sylvia J. Andrade
    Posted at 21:30h, 12 December Reply

    To be able to receive the immunization and be able to go see friends and family without worry, as well as interpret in person without wondering if I either have the virus or am being exposed to it.
    To know all the specialized vocabularies of the different job specializations and function flawlessly in a deposition involving them. (We are getting more and more clients with job injuries who actually know English pretty well and have jobs with unique vocabularies.)

    • Janis Palma
      Posted at 22:26h, 12 December Reply

      Oh yes, Sylvia, I do miss spending worry-free time with friends and family! I hope your wishes do come true!

    • Cecilia Golumbeanu
      Posted at 21:52h, 14 December Reply

      Me too! The vaccine is first on my wish list.

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