This has been an odd Christmas vacation for us..but good. I'll explain a bit if you'll put up with it.
I, being brought up Jewish, never celebrated Christmas - my Italian relatives did and we'd visit them but as outsiders only. We never really got involved (which in hindsight vision was pretty silly) and I didn't know much about traditions and customs for Christmas aside from what I read in books. For some reason I did believe in Santa until I was about 6 when a cousin happily told me the truth about that mythical elf. I didn't believe her. I didn't know what trimming a tree was, I thought it had something to do with power tools and getting the tree into that triangle shape!
When I got married, my husband was totally into Christmas and I took over the present buying and he did the decorating. I learned how to decorate a tree, and put up stockings. We did family Christmas's at his mothers in New York with friends, good food, late nights - everything I thought that Christmas should be. It was alot of fun, and good to be with the family for a traditional dinner. But he had a small family, and it began to dwindle - his grandparents died, friends moved away, MIL moved to Washington DC to be near his sister. So we started traveling to Washington and continued the tradition, but without some of the gusto. I began to resent having to be down there, wanting to stay home with my nephews and their family, or go to California with my brother's family. But it all meant so much to DH, that I...being the continual nice guy....always gave in.
When his mom moved to Florida - it really became a stretch. DH continued to push the tradition, but MIL wasn't really into it and it became a bit forced. We did the Christmas Eve dinner with the traditional different fishes - and invited over my family, and had a good time - but things had changed so much that it was obvious that we needed to change also. I've certainly been ready for that change for years...it's taken longer for DH to get with the program.
This year - you can just imagine the changes that have been forced upon us. Dad is gone - and he really did enjoy the Christmas eve dinner - MIL was in no mood to celebrate or cook. My mom went to California on Christmas eve. It was going to be a small group - just the three of us - but out of the blue, my cousin decided to have a big Christmas eve dinner and we went over to her house and had a wonderful time! No tree in her house, no present exchange, but good food and talk and a change in tradition.
DH and I haven't even exchanged presents this year - there are some at home but we haven't gotten around to opening them and it will seem anticlimactic when we finally do get home.
Having mom away in California has been strange but nice. We miss her around the house, but it's been peaceful and quiet, and much less stressful without one other person to pay attention to. MIL has needed tough love - she was feeling very sorry for herself and I had to read her the riot act a few times. Her recovery is totally in her own hands right now, and she was not pushing herself at all. Her doctor told her to exercise and she has been doing the minimum. After being yelled at a few times, she is beginning to pull out of the doldrums and seems a bit more like her old self - thank goodness!
So, because there were less obligations this year, we did get to do a bit more of what we wanted to. DH and I got to bike ride quite a bit this week, below are some pictures that I took in Myakka state forest at the end of our ride.
I spent hours and hours going over mom's finance books and have gotten everything in shape at this point. I feel very good about accomplishing that. I knit a sweater with gorgeous purple yarn, but didn't measure right and it came out enormous. Happily ripped it out and started again. I'm teaching myself how to knit socks! I only drew ONE thing - a coupla strange fish. We finalized paper work to donate Dad's old beat up car to the kidney foundation. I changed mom's home insurance to be more reasonable, and paid all the bills. I made a delicious ham/bean soup yesterday on a rainy day - it felt good to cook down here, we usually eat out.
It's been an unusual ending to a strange year, and I am keeping my fingers crossed for 2010 to be void of drama. Life will go on, but I'm hoping for no dramatic life changes. I am going home on Sunday and hope to avoid the blizzard that is coming into New England. DH is staying down here for a few more days, and then coming home.
So...Happy New Year to all of you - new friends and old. May you have a wonderful year - let's all hope for boring, and just make our own excitement!!!!