It was probably my favorite Christmas ever this time, but that may be because I have a short memory. Still, it was mostly lovely. The best parts were:
- Husband did all of the present shopping, since he's the best at that (I wrap them all on Christmas Eve). He is an expert at finding the perfect gift for each person--and usually for less than retail. For instance, he took my old laptop that wouldn't even turn on anymore and revamped it, bought a new battery, loaded it with Windows 10, got it running all smoothly again, and gave it to his mother, who has been dealing with a clunky, incredibly slow machine for years. Another example: Elannah accidentally permanently corrupted the PS3 when she turned it off while it was downloading something. It just wouldn't work anymore. So Husband took Elannah's broken laptop, removed the hard drive, replaced the PS3's hard drive with the laptop hard drive, and now we have a working PS3 again. For free.
- And yet another example of my dear spouse's magic: Husband found the transcription of my mom's letters to me, which I'd painstakingly typed up in 2011, saved on a thumb drive, and then promptly misplaced. Of all the gifts I could have received, that one was the best possible gift. Now I get to format the letters and have them printed into a book for my mother. She wrote me incredibly detailed, multi-page letters from the time I went off to college in 1990, and then when I was on my mission in England until June of 1994. I'm pretty sure she didn't write all those details into her journals, so this will be a treasure trove of all the little things that were happening with my family during those years. She is going to LOVE IT! I am beyond excited.
- I had all of my children under one roof for almost three days. Gabrielle came up from Utah Valley, and it was so much fun to have them all here before Sian also heads down to Utah Valley for school at the end of this week. Sophia just turned 18 right before Christmas, so she's graduating from high school this year and will make her plans to head off into the wide world. Having all my children together was my favorite.
- While I mostly did the wrapping, I did make a few gifts by hand. For Little Gary, I crocheted a Sack Boy from Little Big Planet, which he was thrilled to play with (he's still young enough to have that active imagination that turns inanimate objects into thinking beings). For Gabrielle, I crocheted Yoshi, which she loved. For Sian and Gabrielle, I typed up all our favorite family recipes--culling them from my loose recipes clipboard and all my cookbooks--and collected them all into binders. The girls were so excited, and they spent quite a while on Christmas Day reading through all the recipes I'd included and shouting, "I love this one!" I added little notes about who loved which dishes most, who gave the recipes to us, and occasions when the recipes were used. For instance, the recipe that we call "Grandma Lee's Casserole" is actually a dish my 90-year-old grandmother ate when she was very young and living on a farm with her Swedish relatives in Minnesota. She says they just called it "Hot Dish," which is the Minnesotan term for "casserole." After she was married, she made it for my mother and my aunts, and my mother often cooked it while I was growing up. I've cooked it for my family, and my kids love that casserole. Now they'll never forget where it came from. I printed an extra set of recipes for myself, as I thought it would be very handy to not have to sort through all my loose recipes and cookbooks anymore. When Sophia and Elannah (and further down the line, the boys) move out, I'll make more binders for them. All of them can add additional favorite recipes to the binders as they find new ones.
There were many ways in which this Christmas was absolutely wonderful. There was one very sad thing that happened, however. Sian had been dating a wonderful young man for a while, and they had talked about marriage after the upcoming semester (they're both attending the same school). She was so happy, so in love. This was the guy. And honestly, they were a match made in heaven, so perfect for each other in the way they think and view the world and in their future goals. I would have loved to have him as a son-in-law, husband to my darling daughter, and father to my grandchildren. But he abruptly broke up with her right after Christmas, and she was heartbroken.
It's been a very rough week for her, with lots of long mother-daughter talks and sobbing and general misery. Now we're all glad they didn't end up finding housing in the same apartment complex, where she would probably catch frequent sight of him and have her heart broken over and over. This will be difficult for her to overcome because he was The One (and he told her the same), but she's starting to see a light at the end of that tunnel of grief, even though I warned her that the grief will come back in waves, and unexpectedly at times, and that it's completely normal. It's so hard to watch your children suffer so much, but she's becoming more philosophical about it now. Time will help.
We're fortunate in the fact that Sian has convinced Gabrielle not to break his face in sisterly retribution. Gabrielle says that she won't hurt him as long as he runs really fast. It's a compromise, but we'll take it.
Last night, my in-laws came over and we ate tons of junk and watched London's New Year fireworks and a couple old movies before they left at 10pm (close enough! Happy New Year!). Today, my parents and brothers were supposed to come over for dinner (I was going to make Chinese food), but I'm burping egg (blech), Joseph has the trots bad, and Elannah just barely crawled out of her basement bedroom after being sick all night. The smart choice is to cancel. None of us want my 90-year-old grandmother to catch this. Bummer.
But this new year is full of promise. I love the anticipation of wondering what it will bring. Happy New Year, everyone!