Christmas 2020

Well before Thanksgiving was underway, I knew I didn’t want to stay home for Christmas. Obviously, a pandemic makes this wish problematic. Whatever we came up with, we were going to take Mom with us, because she too didn’t want to stay home and dwell on the toll this year has taken.

After a bit of research, we chose a lovely cottage on Sugar Mountain in North Carolina. Chuck wanted to take the boys skiing for the first time, and Mom and I wanted to hide from the world for a bit. We arrived on Wednesday afternoon, just in time to go grocery shopping and get back to the house to make dinner. I poured Mom a glass of wine, and she was all set.

Christmas Eve was a rainy day, but a winter storm was coming. Underneath the snow that fell all evening was a solid sheet of ice by the following morning. It was beautiful, but we knew getting down the mountain was going to be a challenge.

The porch on Christmas Eve…
The porch on Christmas morning…
Still the best hair in the family…

We exchanged a few small gifts on Christmas morning and then occupied ourselves trying to figure out how to get Chuck, Jeremy, and Jackson down the mountain to the ski lodge. Fortunately, there was a taxi service (with four-wheel drive and all-weather tires) that picked them up and dropped them off. This meant Mom and I had the place to ourselves for an afternoon reading marathon.

The day after Christmas proved most beautiful because the sky was bright blue. With the winter storm out of the way, Mom wanted to take a quick trip outside on her new hip to get some photos. Of course I had to chaperone! The last thing we needed was for her to fall down.

This is the view directly across the street from the cottage. On the other side of those houses are the ski slopes. If you looked hard enough, you could see the ski lifts and folks skiing down the mountain. (We weren’t close enough to get a glimpse of Chuck and the boys.)

Jackson was brave to try skiing on Christmas Day, but he opted to join the reading club the day after Christmas while Chuck and Jeremy went a second time.

The homeowners were kind to set up a small Christmas tree for us to enjoy!

Of course, Dad wasn’t far from our minds. We knew the first Christmas without him was going to be difficult, but being in this cottage, away from all the reminders back home, helped us cope. He wouldn’t have wanted us to stay home and mope around, fighting tears and shaking a fist at the sky. Even when I was a little girl, he never liked us moping around. Get up and get on with it!

The cottage was perfect for our getaway. We all had a warm bed and space to schlep around in our pajamas. We watched movies, ate our weight in sugary treats, and only did the things we actually wanted to do. This was a huge bonus for me. I didn’t even bring my laptop! After staying home all year to take care of Dad (and follow pandemic guidelines), a quick trip to the snowy mountains was exactly what we needed.

The next big hurdle is New Year’s Eve, a holiday that’s always been marked by a big, boisterous phone call from my parents wishing us a Happy New Year. Dad would call us promptly at midnight, all giggly and loud, and I’d laugh and roll my eyes at how goofy they sounded.

Now I’d give anything to have that phone call at midnight. Instead, Mom will stay the night with us, but I’m not totally sure I’ll stay up to watch the ball drop. The quicker I fall asleep, the sooner I can leave this wretched year behind.

Christmas, though, was delightful. There were moments of sadness, obviously, but now I’m ready to start a new year without illness or fear or a heap of doctor’s appointments weighing us down. I’m ready for a slower pace, if you can believe that. I’m ready to walk into a calmer year.

Lord willing.

The rain is not helping

I’m trying hard to unearth some Christmas spirit, but so far it hasn’t arrived. Thanksgiving came and went without Tami, which is still very strange and hard to understand. Dare I say it still doesn’t feel real? I thought that it would feel real when the holidays came around but I cooked all day with people in the house and caught myself thinking, “Nope. Still doesn’t feel real.”

Also, today marks one year that Aunt Debbie has been gone, and I’m reminded that I need to get another dove for our Christmas tree. Off to Hobby Lobby I go.

Doves on Christmas trees

Since we are doing a non-traditional Christmas this year and won’t be putting up a tree, I’ll pull out a few decorations from the basement so our house is somewhat festive. I have two small decorative trees that I’ll adorn with doves so we can remember those who aren’t with us anymore. I’ll pull out the nutcrackers and the Christmas books and, of course, we can’t forget Timmy. I refuse to let my fog affect the boys. At 12 and 9 years old, Christmas should still be wondrous and exciting. We still need to acknowledge Advent and carry on with a few of our traditions.

But I swear this rain isn’t helping. The weather man says it’s going to stick around for a few days. If only the temperature would drop thirty degrees.

Throwback Thursday: Sister time in Chicago, 2009

Wasn’t this 2009, Becky? The week I flew in for the half marathon?

me and becky at table 52

It all runs together now. I believe this was when we had dinner at Table 52 and stole some time away in the Windy City, just the two of us. I’m missing my sister but a visit is coming soon. (Thanksgiving is with Chuck’s family, so Christmas is with mine.) I’m looking forward to cooking together and going for long walks so we can commiserate on what life is like raising our four boys. More than ever, I’m so glad she’s going through everything first.

Gingerbread Houses 2014

Like the tree, we were late getting to the Gingerbread Houses. No matter how I try to slow things down, it’s not working. Christmas is indeed in three days.

We invited a couple of neighborhood friends to join us for construction, so there were plenty of sugar rushes and giggles to fill the house. Major enjoyed every piece of candy they dropped on the floor.
Timmy wants to build houses

Worms for a fenceA mess of candy

Jackson abandoned his house after thirty minutes and read, so I was happy to take over and organize the candy in a way that made me calm.

the J House

In website news, I’m mostly finished moving everything over from the old site, so if there are a few wonky bits and broken links, feel free to let me know. (There’s an email link on the top menu bar in the righthand corner.) One thing I know still needs to be resolved is transferring subscribers. Hang in there, folks. I’ll sort it out eventually.

The last week has been a big lesson for me in domains, name servers, and other terms that tie my brain in a knot. Special thanks to those of you who helped me!