Saturday, January 14, 2017

Holiday seasons and the new year beginning with the Daniels. Our first Blended Christmas together.

Happy New Year! I hope you and your family had a magical holiday season. I found that with the changes in the weather, and the shift into a new phase in our lives, winter this year seemed tougher. Less Magical for lack of a better way to describe it. Mr. D. works longer hours and crazy shifts. My corporate career ramped up to be ridiculously demanding and in the midst of all the craziness, going into December this year, we merged two households into one teeny tiny 1000 sq ft townhouse.

Unlike other years, it was nearly mid December before I could find time to put up our tree and drag out the decorations. It's not Christmas until the house is properly dressed for it. Tinsel and sparkles, lights, mistletoe and the works. I didn't think I'd ever see the end of cardboard boxes and suitcases piled in every nook and cranny of our tiny little home. Finally, a living room emerged from beneath the chaos and I pouted until Mr. D dragged all the Christmas decorations out from the crawl space.  I lovingly ignored him, when he inquired as to whether we could possibly sort and get rid of some of the excess. Doesn't everyone have 15 containers of decorations, one for each color? Every year I pick a color, or color combination for the theme. Mr. D. being a guy, just doesn't get it. Actually most of my girl friends don't get it either. I've often wished I could do a multi-color, everything goes Christmas, but welcome to my OCD. Pink and brown were the colors of choice this year and I used bronze and silver accents to tie in the ornament that Mr. D bought me to celebrate our first year together. He is a hopeless romantic. (and he's ALL MINE) :)

Although our children are all adults, Christmas still remains an important family tradition for me. Not just the decorations, but the music and the childhood Christmas classic cartoons. I had a shopping list of special treats that I look forward to at this time of year and a file folder full of some new Christmas cookies and desserts that I wanted to try for the first time. But time was short and so was my energy level. I'm no spring chicken anymore and advanced osteoarthritis and anemia were determined to slow me down. My first attempt at baking goodies after working a 13 hour day ended with a dozen butter tarts out of the oven and dropped upside down on the floor. In tears, I called it a day.

On top of everything else, this year we had to deal with retail work schedules, mill shifts, extended families... blended families and a son who now lives in Calgary. Due to a critical operations issue at work, I was unable to take my usual few days of vacation to shop, bake, wrap and rest. I don't know about anybody else, but my hormones are off the chart at the best of times, but during the holidays a long distance phone commercial is enough to push me over the edge.

My hopes of a traditional family Christmas (my idea of one) all came to a crashing halt when my boys, reminded me that it was the year that they were to have Christmas dinner with their dad. Then Mr. D told me that his son was spending Christmas day with his In-laws and Boxing day with his girlfriend's dad. We wouldn't even get to see our Granddaughter over Christmas this year. Her first Christmas. Ugh... Since they are all from families of divorce and so are their partners, each of our kids has to find time for four sets of parents now.

The frustration continued when the mill decided it was not shutting down and Mr. D was scheduled to work Christmas eve. Then Daughter-in-Law #1 got scheduled to work on boxing day and DIL #2 wanted my son to spend Christmas morning with her family. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, the phone rang and it was my oldest son in Calgary calling to say that there was just no way he could get time off of work to come home.  Panic set in when I realized that I wouldn't even have time to courier him his presents and he'd be alone, without presents on Christmas morning. The thought made my stomach feel sick.

I was tired, disappointed and a complete mess. Determined not to give up on it, Mr. D found someone to take his last shift so he could be home Christmas Eve. He planned Christmas morning BRUNCH so that we could have Christmas with my boys after they opened presents at the girlfriend's parents and before they went to their dads. He arranged for us to have Christmas dinner with his parents and others in his family and included my mom so she wouldn't be alone.  Boxing day we planned on cooking the turkey and all the trimmings that we had bought, just for ourselves and whoever was home. The rest of the kids would come visit after new years when they could find time. It wasn't what I had envisioned, but his thoughtfulness and determination to create me a perfect FIRST blended family Christmas really restored my spirit.

To say the least, I'm very blessed to have Mr. D. His patience and gentle nature is a much needed balance for my anxiety at this time of the year. Here it was Christmas Eve and the tree was decorated and shining bright, but there wasn't a thing under it yet. Thanks to Pillsbury refrigerated cookie dough, I managed to make a few Christmas treats while watching Rudolph. Mr. D. suggested many times that we embrace the idea of using 'gift bags' this year in an attempt to get something under the tree before morning. But knowing how much I enjoy watching the kids unwrap their gifts, he bit his tongue and stayed up until 2am wrapping presents. Christmas was officially here. The house was ready, but empty, and it was perfect! Mr. D and I ate a few cookies, put on some Christmas music and started our first Christmas together dancing in the glow of the Christmas tree lights. After all the stress of the past few weeks I knew without any doubt that this man loves me, unconditionally. This new phase of our life doesn't have to be a stressful one, if we can just learn to be compromising and flexible.

Boxing day was quiet, I wasn't quite sure where everyone disappeared to.  After we picked up my mom and brought her over for the afternoon, I put the turkey in the oven and we started washing dishes. The door opened and I half turned, up to my elbows in soapy dish water. My middle son, smiled and stepped to the side. Mr. Daniels dropped a glass, startled by my screams.  In the doorway stood my oldest, all the way from Calgary.  In the next few hours my house transformed from the quiet empty nest it had been for two days.  Mr. D's son was the next surprise, with our granddaughter. Almost everyone was home for Christmas dinner. When the phone rang and Mr. D's daughter said work had let her go early and she was on her way, my heart overflowed.

We did it! Our first Christmas together and by some sort of holiday magic, we got all our family together for Christmas. Although my dad had passed several years ago, I felt him with me too. Blended families are never easy, and we are lucky that everyone gets along. After opening presents and stockings, desserts were cleared from the table to make room for an evening long game of Christmas Beer Pong. It was loud and noisy and crowded, but the smiles, the laughter and the memories will stay with me forever. That's the important part. Not the matching Christmas tree ornaments, or the cookies made from scratch. Not the wrapping of the presents or the perfect turkey stuffing. I don't know how often we'll be able to get everyone together all at once, but the times we do will be a tremendous blessing. When the night wound down and we once again found ourselves in a quiet moment, Mr. D asked me what I wished for, for Christmas... He already knew the answer.

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Stay safe and warm!  I'm out for now!