Sorry that I missed #MicroblogMondays this week. We were coming to the end of a 10-day Christmas visit to my parents (got home yesterday). I brought my laptop with me, and there are several other computers in the house that I can use -- but my mother has started insisting that all computers must stay in the basement family room (and off of her dining room table). Invariably, someone is napping in the basement family room & not to be disturbed, which puts a bit of a cramp on computer time. (I did have my cellphone, but I find it impossible to type more than a few sentences on there -- it just takes way too long.)
It was a weird sort of Christmas. For one thing, my mother was sick with a really nasty cold/sinus infection the entire time we were there. (Just like the Queen -- which I think sort of tickled her.) As a result, this year, there was only one Christmas tree (vs the usual two, one upstairs in the living room and one downstairs), one kind of shortbread cookie instead of two, no perogies on Christmas Eve or cabbage rolls on Christmas Day (although we had both before, as well as with the leftovers on Boxing Day), and a lot fewer presents under the tree and in my Christmas stocking, which she usually helps Santa to stuff. Which didn't bother me that much (I have more fun shopping & giving than receiving anyway) -- except that it was an unwelcome reminder (not for the first time) that my parents are getting older (and so am I). :(
My dad picked up the slack on the cooking front (he usually cooks most of the time anyway -- and is a really GOOD cook himself, lol), and my sister & I pitched in on the dishes, cleaning, decorating, grocery shopping, errand running and gift wrapping front, as well as making Mom cups of tea & heating her magic bag in the microwave and putting eyedrops in her eyes (poor Mom also developed a bacterial infection in not just one but both eyes at the same time she had the cold). One night we were sitting on the floor of the basement family room, wrapping presents. "Why didn't you get out the card table to sit at??" my mother asked us. Answer: we couldn't find it in the crawl space. My sister (54 to my 55/almost 56) quipped: "Sitting on the floor -- not a problem. Getting up? That's another story." (She was right!!)
Another reason it was a weird sort of Christmas is that we didn't see as much of Parents' Neighbours' Daughter & the Little Princesses as we normally do, or would. (And perhaps it's just as well, with my mother being sick.) The main reason being school ended late this year, on Dec. 22nd (PND is a teacher), and we arrived almost a full week before that. I hadn't even thought about school schedules when I booked our flights and organized our visit. I suppose it just goes to show you how completely out of touch I am with such matters, as a childless 50-something. :p By the time PND picked up the girls from daycare, got them home and had dinner, there wasn't a lot of time (or energy) for her to schlep them over to my parents' house for even a brief visit (which would inevitably wind them all up) before their 7:30 p.m. usual bedtime. Still, she did bring them over (one or the other or both) almost every other day on the weekends and once her Christmas break began, and they spent Christmas Eve with us, as well as time to open the stockings Santa had left for them with us on Christmas Day afternoon.
(My mother wanted to postpone stockings to Boxing Day -- she thought it was all just "too much" when she wasn't feeling well. My sister, PND & (especially) I overruled her. She was NOT happy -- but my sister thought it would be better to get it all over with so we could have Boxing Day to be lazy and rest up before we had to head back home (and, on her part, to work). As for me, I'm a traditionalist -- stockings are meant to be opened on Christmas Day -- particularly when there are little kids around. I guess there is so little about my adult life that is traditional -- no children, no grandchildren -- that I cling desperately to my family of origin and the traditions we have shared together for so long.)
The silver lining, for me, was my sister -- doing things with her, commiserating with her, talking with her, cracking up over her sarcastic sense of humour. (I may be "the writer" in the family, but when we were kids, all my best story ideas and lines came from her.) I've often said, here & elsewhere, that we don't have a gushy "Hallmark" sort of relationship. She generally prefers to hole up in a corner of the basement family room with her laptop or e-reader than to sit around the table & visit -- but she shocked me by cheerfully (well, as cheerfully as she does cheerful, lol) pitching in and getting whatever jobs needed to be done, done. She played cards with us, twice, without having to be dragged to the table, and even helped me decorate the Christmas tree. She refused to touch the tinsel -- has long said it makes her hands itch -- but she helped me string up the lights and put on the ornaments. I cannot remember the last time she went anywhere near the Christmas tree, and I was frantically motioning to dh to get the camera & take photos so I'd have proof of this historic event. ;) Clearly, she is getting soft in her old age, lol. (She did stick her tongue out her tongue at dh when she saw the camera -- some things don't change, lol.)
My mother was moaning on Christmas Eve about all the things that didn't get done this year. I was sad about those things too, and I hope we'll get to do them, or at least some of them, again next year. But when I looked around the dinner table at the faces I love and the good food that was there (despite a few missing items, believe me, we did NOT starve!!), I was reminded of "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" and how Christmas "came just the same," despite the Grinch's best efforts to stop it -- and how Christmas means a little bit more than presents and tinsel and sweets. I thought about that first awful Christmas (1998), after the loss of our Katie AND my beloved grandfather, when everything was different and yet still comfortingly familiar -- and somehow, it was still Christmas. And again the next year after that, when my grandmother was gone too, and our dinner table was shrinking instead of expanding, as we had hoped and expected it would. :(
I think ahead to the inevitable day when my parents will no longer be here, and worry about what we will we do at Christmastime then? Will I still go west to be with my sister, or will she come here? Will BIL & the nephews take pity on us and take us in, even though we have never spent Christmas with them? It all seems too overwhelmingly sad to think about -- and so I don't. (I have a childless friend who was recently widowed and faced with the same sorts of questions. She wound up taking her likewise childless single sister to New York City over the holidays to see the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. I haven't heard yet how that went.)
I take comfort in the fact that I've survived other times when Christmas hasn't been so very merry -- but it always comes, and we can always find a way to make it special, if we try. Maybe it won't be special in exactly the same way as before -- but it can still be special in its own way and on its own merits, nevertheless.
How was your Christmas?