Saturday, December 31, 2011

Twenty Eleven

A look back ...
Off to Brownie camp!
Snow!!
2 man bob sleigh:
Who does not love a new haircut?
Happy Birthday to Me!
Easter!
Easter with Oma and Opa.
Always room for one more in the bed!
Gymnastics!
 Mother's Day Weekend
 May 28, 2011:
  Girls' Weekend in San Francisco!
(Lombard Street)
Waterfight!!
 Father's Day:
Jackson scores a LARGE basket of candy in a raffle:
Last Day of School:
Alaska Cruise!
Summer pedis:
 Poolside!
 Happy First Birthday Finnegan!
Summer in Whistler
Guess who had a lot of baths this year?
 Chessmasters:
First Day of School:
Guess Who is 8??
Halloween:
 Remembrance Day:
 Happy tenth!!
Hanging out:
Christmas 2011:
Looking at the pictures of the year makes me grateful for what I have, rather that sad for who I have lost.

New Traditions.

The firsts. Without Mom.

The first Thanksgiving. Her first birthday. And then, the big one: the First Christmas.

My Mom was all about Christmas. My Dad could tell tales of the Christmas stores he has visited all over the planet.  Rarely did they come home from Switzerland, New Zealand or Nova Scotia without a new ornament for the tree. Or a candle, a table cloth. Or all three.

The tree, every year without fail was festooned with the ornaments, all having special meaning.  Once the grandchildren came along, a new tradition began.  Opa's ornament repairs.  The kids would be drawn to the tree and Oma was careful to put the very enticing  wood and ceramic decorations where the kids could find them.  Invariably, Santa would lose an arm, a reindeer would lose an antler or a wise man would lose a crown. Oma was not fussed about it. She piled up the decoration carcases on the mantle for Opa to perform his miracles.

There were 10 special decorations always on the tree, 2 in honour of each grandchild.  A special ornament was added to the tree every Christmas that a new child joined the family. The other five were tiny stockings that hung on the tree and were just big enough to hold a small chocolate bar or package of chocolate Smarties.  The kids learned early to check the tree for a treat in their stocking.  Oma was always careful to replenish for the next visit.

Some of the most precious ornaments were a set of 8 or 10 crystal ones.  I don't remember where Mom bought them, but they were very precious to her.   Every year when she was decorating her tree, she would carefully place each crystal one in front of a light to make them sparkle.

This year Dad's tree is a modest skinny four footer. We swapped trees this year. He took our kids tree, the one I let them decorate to their hearts content on the condition that they let me decorate the big tree, the one that sits in the front window, my way.  The kids' tree fits well in Dad's condo. The kids now have Oma's tree to decorate.  The kids and I went to help Opa decorate. A new tradition.

But some of Oma's special ornaments are on his tree. All the grandchildren's, several of the special crystal ones. When we sorted through the boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations, Opa was careful to keep the ones he thought most appeal to his grandkids.

On our big tree, I am very obsessed meticulous about the decorations.  For years I had a red and silver motif.  A couple years ago, I made the big switch to green and silver.  Only decorations in the designated colour are allowed.  This year, at times, I didn't feel like putting up a tree. I thought about doing Christmas light. Just putting out enough to make it Chirstmassy enough for the kids.  In the end, it was go big or go home. I put on green. And silver. And red.  The only other thing allowed on the Mommy tree were four of Oma's crystal ornaments. A new tradition.

Of course around the actual celebration of Christmas with my family, it might, I thought, be tough. It was a little different anyway since after 23 at my parents' home in West Vancouver, the gathering had a venue change. My older brother and his wife, the recipients of Mom's coveted Christmas dishes, hosted.  A new tradition. (I am not sure if my brother and sister-in-law are aware we will be showing up on his doorstep on December 24th in perpetuity.)

I missed Mom the most on Christmas eve.  Mom loved so much about celebrating Christmas together, but nothing like sitting in church with the whole family.  We had to go early to find a pew that would accommodate all 13 of us.  She loved sitting together. And introducing us to many of her friends afterwards.   I missed her so much when we sang Away in a Manger. We sing it every Christmas eve. And I could almost hear her voice.

I may have completely lost myself in the moment had I not left the service to provide what comfort I could to Jackson as he lay down on the floor outside the men's washroom, writhing in gastrointestinal distress.

About a week before Christmas, Dad invited us all to his place on December 27th.  He was to serve appetizers.  It was the most fun I had all Christmas.  The kids were busy playing with their new toys.  The adults visited. And ate. And laughed.  We started a new re-gifting tradition.  Each adult brought a re-gifted item to the party and we drew numbers and played the trading game.  It was much fun, with the most coveted item being a cow cookie jar.  Cookies are removed from the cow's behind.

This new tradition felt really like a page had been turned for our family.  It is one that Mom will never be part of.  But somehow, I felt her there.
My Mom, last Christmas

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Giving.

If there is one thing that pleases me most about Christmas, apart from the ready availabity of cookies, egg nog  good cheeses, it is how very much my kids enjoying the GIVING of Christmas. 

Sydney wanted to open Jackson's present first.
He spent $10 of his own money on a beautiful gold necklace:
Daddy received his favourite chocolate:
Mommy a Christmas mug AND a gorgeous necklace:
Sydney had lovely gifts too and enjoyed equally, the giving.
A puzzle for Daddy:
An Christmas angel ornament for Mommy:
But what absolutely gave me misty eyes was Sydney's gift to Jackson.
This awesomeness of this Powerpoint presentation is beyond words
I could find to describe it:

 "Complete package". She cracks me up every day.