Monday, December 18, 2023

A Holly Jolly Weekend

My blog muscle is a bit flabby but going to try to exercise it a little today. Hubs and I were both a bit under the weather earlier this month so we haven't done quite as much as we normally do in December. We passed on a couple of fun parties and watched movies at home instead. 

If you read here you know logistics are a thing for us always. Neither of my girls live where we live nor do they live near one another. Nor do they live near their in-laws. Bother. What that means come holiday time is we all learn to shift and share. They spend every other Christmas with us and every other with their in-laws. 

This is an in-law year so we try our best to stir up Christmas fun with visits prior to the big day. We had a fabulous Thanksgiving with Daughter1 and her family in one state, then spent this past weekend with Daughter2 and her family in still another state. The weekend before that Daughter2 and her family trekked to Daughter1's house for a visit there so whew!, lots of miles for everyone.

I feel like this is not something you spend any time thinking about when your kids are young. At least I didn't. Holidays? Of course we'll all be together for ever and always amen. The idea that you won't spend the holidays with your tiny pony-tailed little girls once they're grown is not something you need to contemplate when they are still tiny pony-tailed little girls. Parenting is best managed one season at a time. 

When our girls were growing up we spent every single Christmas at one grandparents home or the other.  We packed the car so full you couldn't see out the back window and we schlepped many many hours and many many miles through ridiculous traffic so they could be with their cousins, our siblings and our parents. All of our siblings did the same. 

I know many people dig in their heels and refuse to be anywhere but their own house on Christmas morning, but we never ever considered not spending Christmas with one family or the other. It wasn't easy or convenient, but today my now grown girls know and adore their aunts and uncles. Looking back I can see so clearly how these concentrated blocks of time with extended family helped create the sense of warmth, security, and belonging they carry with them to this day. 

I hope my girls will always schlepp. I hope they will load up all the boxes and bags and the bazillion pieces of equipment babies and kids require, and they will inconvenience themselves for family. That they will do whatever it takes to be with grandparents, in-laws, cousins and each other for special occasions or no occasion. 

That their own children grow up knowing there is a great big circle of family who will be there to celebrate and soothe, to support and nudge, to shower them with so much love it makes a scary world feel less scary. They will know it because they've slept on a pallet on the floor in an overly full house, they've eaten too many Christmas cookies while playing Dominoes with people aged 9 and 79, they've worked jigsaw puzzles on a card table, had an aunt do their hair, learned to shoot pool, and have talked about everything under the sun while sitting beside someone who shares their DNA. This is a gift whose value cannot be overstated. 

Back to this past weekend, which we spent with the cutest little 18 month old boy we know. Y'all this little guy is just brimming with personality. He is so cheerful and talks a blue streak and we are positively crazy about him. 

Saturday was gray and chilly but we braved the Little Debbie Park anyway, mostly because we wanted to see what it was all about. It's a great play spot for children, better for those just a little bit older than sweet baby J, but he had fun watching the bigger kids on the zip line and climbing walls. There's a lot of open space for running and playing too. 

I don't know if Little Debbie Cakes are everywhere, but in this part of the country they are a popular sweet treat. Hubs ate his fair share of oatmeal cream pies when we were dating and there's a giant one you can stand on in the park. There's also  a cosmic brownie you can climb, and the Christmas Tree Cake too. 

It was freezing so we didn't stay long before heading home for lunch and naps. I won't say whose lol. 

We gave him our big gift later that afternoon, and it was a hit. He climbed right on and was ready to go. 

I think I did about 40 laps around the kitchen-dining room-hallway-living room while I was there, but when someone calls you NeNe you jump. 

Yes I'm Nana, but NeNe is how he says it and I am here for it. 

He can't quite pedal it himself yet, but three cheers for the genius who came up with a long handle for the adult walking behind. I'm betting it was a mom or dad whose back ached from bending awkwardly over a tricycle trying to make it go.   

My son-in-law is king of the grill and made us a delicious steak and lobster dinner. And Daughter2 is the original 'star baker' and had made (literally) dozens of cookies so we ate our fill. Who else loves The Great British Baking Show? It's our favorite and we watch it together apart lol. She's in her house and I'm in mine and we text each other the whole time we're watching. Our favorite! 

Sunday morning we went to church, then later in the afternoon their neighborhood had a little holiday light contest followed by cocoa with Santa. Little man was fine watching from a distance, and he didn't cry immediately upon sitting on his lap. He did decide pretty quickly though, that this was not for him. A photographer was there capturing the moments, but we're grandparents so of course we snapped a few hundred of our own too. 

Maybe not officially Christmas but it felt an awful lot like it. 


  1. Joyce. I loved your comments about bundling up all your earthly Christmas possessions to haul to grandmother's house. We did this every year from 1965 until 1993. My dad died in early 1994 which meant those treasured traditions changed. Those Christmases when my two sisters also journeyed to our parent's home with kids, presents, prepared food and husbands in tow, was the source of treasured memories that are so precious, not only to me but all our kids. Now that my youngest sister is no longer with us, those precious times are even more valuable. Merry Christmas to you and all your beautiful family.

  2. What a wonderful time with your grandson. He is so adorable! Like you, we won't be with ours this year either. But then again, we'll do the FaceTime thing or at the least, a video of our grandson opening gifts.

  3. sweet. Happy you could do early Christmas with them. He is such a cutie. I enjoyed how you expressed all the thoughts about sharing Christmas and extended family. Our kids flew down to Cali to participate in the annual cousins Christmas. Our dear old pop left us all with these words, "Be together, Love each other."

  4. I've mentioned before that I grew up with three Christmases. The Sunday before with one set of grandparents and all the aunts and uncles and cousins on that side of the family, and the Sunday after was the other set of grandparents...repeat. Then we had Christmas day at our own home. The grands did drop by later but we were fortunate to have them all fairly close during those growing up years. I agree with you about how important those cousins and aunts and uncles are. Just the best way to grow up!! Little man is adorable!! Merry Christmas to you all!!

  5. What a lovely post. I loved reading each and every work you typed. The pictures are wonderful and baby "J" is adorable. Love the bike. Your dinner looks delicious and we do watch the British Baking Show.

  6. Yep we had lots of family Christmases together but now with our own kids, thanks to in-laws being abroad or not usually around we only share 1 son with in-laws on alternate years. This year mine are all home with us. It will be total chaos lol. Merry Christmas Joyce