candy cane straws…

We have seven grandchildren.  spread amongst 3 families — our two daughters and one son have been busy the past 7 years.

We plan a lot of family things.  Pumpkin patch, visits to the tree farm, outside barbecues.  Lots of noise and silliness, inevitable tears and frequent boo boos.  Its work, but worth it, important to us that they grow up close, loving for and taking care of each other .  Understanding that they are linked. forever.

And then there are days like today, when youngest daughter drops her two boys off so she and her husband can finish up their Christmas shopping.  Her oldest Jax came in carrying a bag of marshmallows –and shortly after they left he and I went into the kitchen and made hot chocolate for him, his poppop and me.  Little brother Ryder was asleep on the couch, so the three of us got to have a precious moment.  Watching him sit there at the table, surrounded by Christmas decorations and homemade cookies, sipping his hot chocolate through the special candy cane decorated straws I bought for moments just like this — well, thats just probably one of the best things that will happen this season.  unplanned, uncluttered and special, just for us.

 

self-care

The term “self-care” has been a buzzword in my life lately.  The doctor, my trainer, friends…everyone seems to be on this kick and determined to pull me in ….

So yesterday morning, after I self-cared my achy old body to the gym and completed a nice self-care filled workout, complete with squats, viper work and rope play….

I put up a Christmas tree.  First of the season — okay, I know its not OFFICIALLY the season, but it’s two months from Christmas Day, so I figured, what the heck.  And, Christmas Decorations are my favorite things in the world, so I feel like yesterday was a win.

Merry Christmas?

3 kids, 3 inlaws. 6 grandchildren.  1 case of RSV, one asthma attack, one bad cough, one pink eye and one “almost fractured leg”.  That leaves one healthy grandchild ….

Oh, and a tray of lasagna, a 10 lb. ham, potato salad, festive crasin salad, a gallon of homemade eggnog, 2 ricotta pies, 10 dozen cookies, 2 pickle wheels, 2 lbs. of ring bologna, 2 lbs of swiss cheese………what am I going to do with all this food????

These kids better get well, pronto!

you know you’re OLD when…

elfyou reach up to the valance to wrap the Christmas Elf’s arm around the loop and you pull  your back to the point where you are draped over a side table yelling ” babe, babe” and your husband comes running out to the family room and thinks ” oh my God, she’s having a heart attack” and grabs for the phone to dial 911, because, you know, thats what you do when your wife is having a heart attack.  And, you yell “no, no, I pulled my back” and he puts the phone down and says, “what?  Stupid elf”. and leaves you draped over the table while he walks to the kitchen to finish washing dishes.  Old.

Christmas time…

When you are young, and your children wrap themselves around you in excitement every time you even whisper Christmas, or Santa…you get lost in the magic, the anticipation, the stress that is Christmas with toddlers. As they grow up, you begin to marvel, or at least I did, in their creativity, their evergrowing list of “have to buy for” friends, their ability to believe, really BELIEVE that this guy is going to come down the chimney and bring the gifts they lust after. Because our children were so ready to embrace the magic, we built traditions:  I swear I invented the Christmas elf, we chopped the tree, watched the shows, sang the songs.  We attended, and they acted in, the Christmas pageant at Church, we baked cookies, made brunch, left milk and cookies, and later a carrot….we bought Christmas outfits, donned reindeer ears, lit the advent candles, hosted the Christmas Eve and the day after parties.  We DID Christmas right around here.  Effortlessly. Joyfully. 

And then they grew up.  Family members branched out and had other events to attend.  The allure of Santa lost its magic and it became the “I want” game for a few years.  We sang Christmas songs around the piano, went caroling, added Scrooged and “Ralphies Christmas” to our must watch 100 times in December list,  listened to their band and chorus concerts.  My kids always ALWAYS attended each other’s events — sitting in the front row smiling with pride.  We still snuck into their rooms and put their stockings on their beds, still hid the gifts and refused to let them “pick out” their own presents.  I let them taste the “special eggnog” and   We continued to DO Christmas.

 

And then, one by one, they went to college, came home, moved out, got engaged, married and had babies (mostly in that order).  I remember the first year no one was living home with us at Christmas.  I dreaded Christmas Eve.  They were coming here, and then they were leaving.  LEAVING.  to go to their own homes.  Funny thing though.  It was wonderful.  They came, they laughed, ate, drank, opened their Christmas Jammies and then went their merry way.  And I sat with a glass of “special eggnog” and congratulated myself on a job well done.  They were grown. 

Its been several years now since anyone woke up with my husband and me on Christmas morning.  Several years since anyone searched daily for the elf, snuck around looking for their gifts.  But, it doesn’t feel like anything is missing.  Everything I do, every cookie I bake, or tree I decorate is overflowing with the memories and warm feelings that doing these things with my children evoked.  As I watch, for the second time today, “Ralphies Christmas” (A Christmas Story) I can almost feel them sitting here with me, hear them laughing, see them draped across the floor.  Christmas hasn’t lost its magic at all. the magic is right here, in the memories, the excitement of doing these same things with my 5, count em, 5 grandchildren, in the flannel shirt that I wrap for my son, or my careful attention to the “list” making sure the numbers match.

 

Man, I love Christmas.  The miracle of Jesus’ birth and the miracle of the feelings it evokes just warms my heart. 

buh bye Christmas

So, when i tell people about our Christmas break, theyve been saying , wow, sorry everyone was sick, or “did you get a break at all?” or “next year will be better’….but I really don’t get it. The way I see it, it was a wonderful break. All the kids and grandkids were here for Christmas dinner and massive present opening, everyone called and sent pictures and we went shopping a few times. Ava hugged me and said “I love you gram’, Ryan burst into the room in his storm trooper costume and announced he was “saving” me, Jax spent almost every day here since he was sick and his mom and dad had to work, and sweet Amelia laughed and crawled in hugged like no one else in the world. The guys all wore their ugly Christmas sweaters, Drew even went home and got his since he forgot to wear it… they played in the snow, they ate cookies and candy canes…..it was a wonderful wonderful week.
Sure, Jax had pneumonia, mom was a bit of a mess, Ryan and Amelia got sick and I had a mix up at the studio, but it was a wonderful week, full of family and support and laughter.

Ill take that anytime.