How to Live with Extended Family for a Week

Dear Christopher,

For the first time in years you guys were here for the holidays.  A whole week together with you both and with the children.  I was very excited to celebrate Christmas on our home turf.  All the years we were with you in Seattle were great.  I love your Seattle family.  Doug and Paul always make us feel welcome.  The Christmas Eve celebration with the twelve fish dishes is nothing short of outstanding.  But Christmas at home is very special to me.  Aunt Judy and I often talk about the days when you and your brother were young and those big Christmas celebrations with the grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. Your cousin Lillian says she misses it terribly.  Yes, I know, I know.  Back then Aunt Judy and I did our share of complaining about all the work we had to do.  But truth be told, we miss those times now.

When your grandmother was alive I always felt bad leaving her on the holiday.  Yet I wanted very much to spend time with you and Patrick.  I wanted so much to be part of your children’s memories of Christmas.  What a treat it was to watch them run down the stairs on Christmas morning to open their presents.  Then we adults could laze about over coffee and pancakes and chat and eat cookies. But having the holiday in our home really was a thrill. I was so excited about that.  Kept telling my friends that the kids were coming here for the first time in years. (Yes, you are still my kid). I even got a real tree.  Bought lights and decorations because I had jettisoned the old ones after so many years away. Like celebrations of old Aunt Judy baked what seemed like endless cookies.  I planned a couple of big gatherings at our home.  We had some celebratory cocktails together, just the four of us, after the kids went to bed.  It was a great holiday from my perspective, despite frigid weather and a cancelled return flight to Seattle.  I was worried that staying an extra day and scrambling to find another flight back home would put you all off Christmas back east.  But it was fun to have an extra day together.  Those crazy, complicated holiday celebrations of old have a new spin, but thankfully you all got back in time for school and work. I am hoping and planning for next year already.

This time when Aunt Judy and I reminisce about holidays we did not rehash old complaints about the cooking and cleaning to prepare.  We did not talk about how now our family is so small and our celebrations so few. This time we genuinely rejoiced as we realized the joy in approximating those grand old holiday traditions once again.

Love MOM

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