Saturday, January 2, 2010

Winter vacation - 2009

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'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!!!!


ArtistUnplugged said...

I hope this year is calm and "uneventful" for you two! I am happy that you had a wonderful Christmas Eve and that your MIL is beginning to snap out of it! Enjoyed seeing all your snow photos, your fish watercolors are amazing and I get a kick out of the walking fish! I LOVE miniatures too but have never owned interesting!!!

Lynn said...

Thanks for sharing all that Mim.
I loved learning all this about you. I think we had a few Christmas' at our Jewish house too when I was very very young. I do recall calling a halt to it around age ten, BECAUSE we were Jewish, and then being disappointmed when my folks followed through and it wasn't there on that Christmas morning or ever after. I was always a bit jealous/envious of my friends across the street huge diluge of gifts under their very tall decorated trees.
But am happy/content now with Chanukah and how it brings my little grandkids to our home each year, five years in a row!!!
I hear you about "boring"...let's just say "calm", non-upsetting, maybe we can channel the excitement into art and doing fun things with our DHs and friends. And families. Especially the little kids. None of which will be boring at all. Glad you got to bike ride in such pretty enviorns.

soulbrush said...

it sounds like you have rounded off all rough edges, completed all unfinished tasks and generally said goodbye to what was not a very nice year for you at all. so here's wishing you 'boring'!

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

Reading your post was like reading a chapter in a book you can't put down. Full of "life"!

Lovely photos and welcoming in of a new year!

Baino said...

It seems so odd not to celebrate Christmas. I'm learning a lot about the Jewish faith through bloggers, very interesting. Still, I love my tree, breaks my heart when I pack it all up again on 12th night. So glad you enjoyed your Christmas eve and I know exactly what you mean about numbers dwindling. I did Christmas for 14 of us this year, everyone enjoyed it but it was so much work, I'm not sure I'll bother next year. Someone else can take up the gauntlet. I'm glad your MIL is coming out of her malaise. I had an aunt who was a bit like that. Didn't help herself and it had dire effects on her health. She was very arthritic and depended on people to ferry her around. Once she bought an electric wheelchair, she refused to walk and frankly it did contribute to her demise because she became so sedentary. Very sad.

Mim, I'm a fairly new addition to your blog commenters but I've loved every post and the honesty with which you've described the past few months. Here's hoping an easier time is ahead for you in 2010 and wishing you and your husband a wonderful year.

Now, off to do my books and prepare my income tax return!

PAK ART said...

I hope your new year is anything but boring but only in the ways that are good for you! I hope there will be sparks of creativity, good times drawing and painting, spending time with DH and improving life for MIL. It's a tough road growing older for some. Since our kids have gotten married we've had to shake up our traditions a little - it's all good though. We are meant to change I think, not just stay the same.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I agree. No high drama. We can all go for a quiet normal, should I say it? boring year. Yes.

ElizT said...

Well done, Mim. Muted festivity is good.

Michele said...

Mim I think it's so wonderful that you celebrate two "winter" holidays. There are a few things I miss about Christmas. The stress and overspending are not on that list but I do miss the decorations. They can be so beautiful. Happy New Year to you and I'm dreaming for a wonderful 2010 for all of us : )

katie jane said...

Interesting slant on the holidays. We are in the same boat; family has dwindled and scattered, and those that are near go far for the holidays. We only get Christmas Day and New Year's Day off so we have to stay close. It's just us now, and it feel kinda weird. We are usually at a loss as to what to do on the holiday itself and mostly just do our own thing; grilling steaks out and eating in. It's all part of the aging process, this change in the traditional way of doing things, and we will adjust.
I do hope things calm down for you this year. You have had a really hectic 2009.

Debra Kay said...

I love the pictures at Myakka-I saw my first wild alligator there!

studio lolo said...

Sounds like a perfect ending to your tumultuous year! The photos are awesome. I love that you and DH do so much outdoor stuff together even though I get the feeling it could be a bit less ;)

It was odd being back with some family this year. The snow helped my spirit, believe it or not. I'm actually loving the steady snow of the past two days, all tucked in my studio.

I think many of us are ready for a quieter, simpler year. I for one am done with drama and changes. And I'm more than ready to get on the ever elusive healthy path!

So here's to 2010 Mim.
May it be all we need it to be.

Safe travels. Enjoy the gentle snow!