December 27, 2018
Well, we have made it through another year and Christmas is upon us. I feel sure it was only a few weeks ago that Santa visited us the last time! Where has the year gone?
I would not say 2018 has been the best year ever. The country seems to be divided more than I can remember in my lifetime; my mother's health and my own have not been too great; work has been more demanding than ever before; both my boys are facing the ever increasing stress of high school (it is ridiculous how bad this can be); and we now have the looming concern of how to fund college for my eldest. Eek!!!
There have been some amazing moments too. Our summer trip to Italy was fantastic. We got to enjoy this beautiful city at a much more leisurely pace, soaking in the atmosphere and living more like a local. Of course we still managed to fit in some spectacular historical places. We even got to the Vatican this time.
We have many family traditions over Christmas. While we are not particularly religious, we cherish the idea of spreading love and peace. We always attempt a family photo for the Christmas card. This can often lead to the antithesis of love and peace being achieved. Most often, none of us can coordinate a time to have our favorite photographer and family friend do the shoot. This is made even more difficult by the fact she just moved to Boston!!! We also face the hard truth that we are not a family that dresses up much - we discovered that the boys’ ‘smart clothes’ no longer fit!!!
Finally, in sheer desperation, I had the family pose on a freezing Thanksgiving day for a shot taken in the span of a minute - literally, by the boys’ aunt. Her shot was great, we just looked a wreck and the lighting was not right. It kinda fit with the craziness of the whole year so I ordered the cards anyway.
Christmas Eve is my favorite day. I begin by prepping all the food for the following day when I host. Christmas music fills the air as I cut, chop, slice and peel. I marinate the leg of lamb in my own concoction of rosemary, garlic and oil. Then, as the evening draws in, Sam and I make the cake. I NEVER bake...Sam does most of it...and it turns out very delicious but not overly beautiful!
Next comes the cookies for Santa. My boys know the ‘real deal’ here, but still insist on baking cookies and putting them out on the special plate. We add some carrots for the reindeer too. After all this prepping, cooking, and baking, we order in Chinese food and watch a family movie together. Last year it was A Christmas Story, this year it might be time to watch The Grinch...AGAIN!
After the movie, my boys used to go to bed. As they are now high schoolers, this is now going to be a little tricky. Sure, they know the gifts are put around the tree by two elves who also do all the shopping, wrapping and bow-adding, but they also want to have the delight of seeing what was “delivered” in the morning. Well, you can be sure I am NOT staying up all night to make-believe I’m an elf now that they know I’m the sucker loving mother who really does it. So I plan to have them help me set up the gifts - they know there are going to be a lot less this year - and then I can get much needed rest before hosting the family on Christmas day. I’ll let you know how that goes! Edit: They decided to go to bed about 10pm and wanted the surprise in the morning.
Christmas is not an easy time for many families. Christmas in 2009 was one of the hardest for us as Sam had only recently been diagnosed with cancer. He was bald, thin, and very sick due to the harsh chemo and steroids he was on. His body was ravaged but his spirit was strong. We had to be careful not to make him more sick as he was neutropenic (low white blood count leading to it being very easy for him to get infections).
We are years from this now. We have happy and healthy celebrations without fear of sickness and the unknown. But so many families face what we went through back in 2009. Their child is fighting for their life and the family celebration is muted or even in the hospital. Even worse, the family is mourning their child.
Childhood cancer is in the back of our minds most of the time. But I do feel eternally grateful that we have been able to move on and celebrate Christmas without fear.
Happiness and joy were in abundance this year. We had family over and enjoyed good food. There were less gifts and the Santa magic was definitely lacking for my boys who stated how much they miss that. But they also agreed that less gifts were more meaningful (less cheap crap to pad out the gift stash) and they loved what they got. I am very pleased that my boys are not materialistic. They appreciate getting gifts, but now find joy in giving gifts too.
This mama is blessed indeed. Christmas is such a great time to connect with family and take some time to reflect on our past year. I try not to be caught up in missing the little boys and their wonderment and awe at the thought of Santa and the reindeer flying through the night sky. I will get that again once the grandkids arrive (NOT YET!!!)
The new year approaches and we have a lot to be excited about. The boys are growing into amazing young men; our family grew with the addition of Magic, our rescue kitten; and my business will be growing considerably.
I hope that you are all enjoying a wonderful holiday season. What are your favorite holiday traditions? Let us all know in the comments blow.
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