Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas review

The Good: 

  • I got to spend time with my parents, sister (who had time off work and was there almost the entire time we were) & her boyfriend. Lots of laughs, lots of card games & dominos. 
  • We also got to spend time with Parents' Neighbours' Daughter (PND) & her two little girls (i.e., the Little Princesses). Not quite as much as we'd hoped, perhaps -- they were still in school for the first while we were there -- but we still saw a good deal of them. The family was with us for dinner & presents/stockings on both Christmas Eve & Day.  The girls were so excited, & it was fun to have them around & see their reactions to their presents. They were tracking Santa on an app on their Mom's phone, and when it looked like he was getting a little too close for comfort, the three-year-old insisted, "MOM!!  You have to start the car RIGHT NOW!!  We have to get home to bed before Santa comes!!" (lol)   
  • Remember when I wrote about a white Christmas being practically guaranteed where my parents live? The streak continues...! 
  • Lots of great food to eat -- my parents are both great cooks and make an excellent turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Among other things, we also had ham for dinner on one night and ribs on another. My dad also bought himself a new "toy" -- a waffle iron -- the last time they were in the States and made us waffles with strawberries & whipped cream for brunch one morning. There were lots of perogies & cabbage rolls/holuptsi (traditional Ukrainian fare), and lots of shortbread & butter tarts. 
  • Despite an agreement to limit spending, I still got some nice presents for Christmas, including a new Kobo e-reader from dh (we figured spouses were exempt from the limit, lol -- and my old one was a near-original from 2010, so I figured I was due for an upgrade...!).  

The Not-So-Good: 

  • My parents' Internet service is not exactly high-speed -- and when you have six adults in the house, most of them using one or more electronic devices.... it's SLLLLOOOOOWWWWW.  So frustrating!  
  • My mother has banned laptops from her dining room table, and my sister was often sitting on the couch in the basement with HER laptop, meaning there weren't many places where I could sit down, plug in & play/write on my computer.  (And whenever I did, I would inevitably get called away.)  I can read on my phone, but I find it difficult to type more than a sentence or two on it.  
  • My parents, at almost 77 and 78, still do pretty well -- but there is no doubt they are aging and slowing down. Last year, my mother was sick at Christmas. This year, my father (who does most of the cooking these days), banged his elbow just before we arrived and developed painful bursitis -- on top of an already-sore shoulder on the same side. He still stubbornly persisted in doing stuff... but even he had to admit defeat a few times & ask for help.  
    • This mean the rest of us (no spring chickens ourselves) had to step up & pitch in even more than usual, with everything from decorating (strings of lights on trees and garlands kept burning out, adding to the stuff to be done) & gift wrapping, to food prep (chopping celery, onions & apples for the stuffing, getting stuff out of the chest freezer, helping Mom stuff the turkey) and cleanup, to making & baking spritz cookies with my Grandma's recipe and Mom's antique cookie press, to snow removal to just helping Dad get his jacket on & off.  
  • The Little Princesses are adorable and lots of fun... but they are also EXHAUSTING. My mother complains when they haven't been around... but then when they do come around, she finds them too noisy and rambunctious. She bemoans the damage done to her carpet, her coffee table, her prized Willow Tree Nativity set (the Little Princesses are fascinated by it).  
    • It made me wonder whether she would have been similarly impatient with/critical of MY child. Then I realized that MY "child" would be 19 years old now -- and would have been a baby/toddler when my mother was much younger and (presumably?) more flexible and able to cope with disruption to her life and routines. (In fact, not that much older than I am right now.... eeekkkkk...) SIGH.  
  • All of the above also meant that I am waaayyyyyyyy behind on my blog reading & writing. Trying to catch up now, but I may have missed some of your news. 
  • I also did not get one book read while I was away. (I started one, but have not yet finished it.)  So much for my 2017 Goodreads reading challenge....!  :p 
  • It was a white Christmas (with some fresh snow while we were there) -- but it was also very, very COLD -- the coldest Christmas in 20 years in that area. 
    • How cold was it? I don't think the temperature went above 0C the entire time we were there, and it was often much colder, with highs in the -20C range, overnight lows of close to -30C, and windchill values that reached -40C one morning.  I did not leave the house for four full days. 

The Bad: 

  • PND, her hubby, & the two Little Princesses were all sick or just getting over it when we first got there. And then passed along their germs to me, as well as my sister & her partner. :p  The fact that I was utterly exhausted from all the holiday prep & cleanup work probably didn't help matters. I started getting a scratchy throat late on Boxing Day and by the time we flew home yesterday, I'd added a stuffy, drippy nose to the mix. :p  Flying, of course, did not help the situation. :p  I haven't had a bad cold like this in quite a while. (One of the perqs of both childless living & retirement -- less contact with germy people & situations, lol.)  
  • To make matters worse, as a belated Christmas present (??), Aunt Flo decided to grace me with her presence, after a record-breaking 146-day absence. (It was fun while it lasted...)  So I'm back to square one in terms of counting down to official menopause (i.e., a full year's absence). At almost age 57. (!!)  
  • We got to the airport yesterday in plenty of time (despite my mother, for whom "punctuality" is a dirty word, and who is never ready less than 20-30 minutes LATER than you tell her you need to be walking out the door...!), but getting on the plane was another matter. As we entered the security screening area, I was pulled aside and asked to submit my purse for inspection (including swabbing for explosives).  I was required to take off my boots before going through the main screening zone (dh was not -- mine had metal embellishments, which might be one reason). And something (still) set off the metal detector as I walked through, so I had to submit to a full body scan followed by a partial patdown, in which I was asked to show the bottoms of my feet to the security guard (desperately hoping there weren't any holes in my socks...!).  Not sure exactly what the issue was, but I was eventually sent on my way. 
  • Our flight was completely full, with many people trying to make connections in Toronto to points south. Despite the pleas of the flight attendants at the gate for volunteers to check carry-on luggage, the overhead bins were already jammed full by the time dh & I boarded (& we were by no means among the last people on the plane). We wound up having to put our own carry-on items under the seats in front of us and sit with our bulky winter coats draped over our shoulders.  So much for the premium we paid to get seats with more leg room...!  As we left the plane, we heard shouts of  "Excuse me!!" behind us as an entire family of five (three children) raced past by (presumably on their way to a connecting flight), each of them towing a wheeled carry-on-sized suitcase behind them. Grrrrrr.... 
So... how was your Christmas?? 


  1. This sounds actually pretty good! I love the story about the Santa app :-). I am sorry aunt Flo visited you again after all this time though and that you caught the germs from PND, too. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

    My Christmas was good, except that I didn't get to go to a single celebration. I caught the flu on December 23rd and and spent Christmas on the couch, lighting candles and listening to Christmas music. I don't think I have ever had a quieter Christmas than this year. But it was (emotionally) okay, and I'm happy about that.

  2. I've posted about ours, but in some ways it couldn't be more different, though our long stretch of warm weather came to an end on Christmas Day, so we couldn't have drinks outside on the deck. (DH grumbled, as he'd spent a lot of time cleaning it up!) Though there are the similarities - I do all the other preparations these days, including shopping on behalf of the elderly in-laws.

    I do get annoyed at travellers with oversized carry-on suitcases. In my years of travelling to the US, it never ceased to amaze me the size of the suitcases allowed in the cabin. With that and the random checks - aah, the joys of travel!

    Boo hiss to AF, and to nasty colds! Hope you feel better soon.

  3. Sounds busy but fun! Sorry about the bad cold you picked up. It's hard when your parents start getting older but sounds like they are still managing reasonably well which is good. We spent Christmas with my husband's family. Lots of eating!