Christmas, Family, Road Trips & Leftovers

This is one of a few entries I wrote, and was unable to post, for the past couple of weeks.  Please accept my apologies for bringing you so much delight all at one time!!

At this point, the beets are going out.  It’s been a week.  Even if they are still fine to eat, I don’t want them.  So 2 roasted & sliced beets are bound for glory, er, the composting barrel.

And that’s all that’s left from Christmas, except for a box of thin mint chocolates that mysteriously never made their way to the table… hee, hee, hee… and a couple of bottles of wine that were brought by guests & not drunk.  Tree’s down, Christmas cards – both received & left over – are packed away, holiday CDs put back on the rack with the indy music we’re afraid to listen to, and life moves on toward 2011 with all the grace of an overstuffed middle-aged writer who forgets how much work there is getting ready for the bloody season from year to year so keeps celebrating it.

(Christmas must be my equivalent of popping out babies every year!  Hee!)

This year, Jeff & I invited my whole family to come for Christmas – but one brother & his family and my only sister & her family could not come at all, and not all twigs on the various branches could make it either.  That left us with only Greg, and David & Firmina & Jake & Luke, and Michael & James & Tall Jeffrey (to distinguish my 6 foot, one inch nephew from my 5 foot, 10 inch husband, now known as Shorter Jeffrey), not nearly the numbers we often have.  So to make up for it, I invited our new friends, Sally & Michael, to round up the numbers to an even dozen crowded around the dining room table, and we had a blast!

I have never told so many stories, listened to so many stories, heard so much laughter, as we enjoyed that evening.  Dear Sally & Michael, putting up with my crazy family.  Although I don’t think they minded too much – they seemed to get a lot of enjoyment from discussing bees and fainting goats as is humanly possible.  I am, however, never going to be able to think about milking & Sally again without laughing just a little.

When you’re an orphan – as the six of us are – it doesn’t matter that you’re middle-aged and have children of your own.  You’re still an orphan.  And the family holiday is dimmed just a little because the continuity of your family starts with you. It’s a little scary to think that we, the six of us, are the adults now, because I remember very clearly when we were not!  It’s been 19 Christmases without Joy and 7 Christmases without Ross, and they are always and forever missed, but I think the love of celebration and food & drink and family that they gave us is a guest at the table and a gift under the tree every Christmas, so they are still, in many ways, celebrating with us.

But when you’re married, you don’t have just one family any more.  You have two.  For better or for worse, there are the in-laws to consider, and very happily, fortunately, for me, the in-laws are fabulous.

In some ways, I still feel like I have a mum & dad because (Shorter) Jeffrey’s parents are still with us at 89 years of age.  Oh, they’re a little slower in moving, they don’t fit as much into their days as they used to, and one sometimes has to repeat things a few times to be heard and/or remembered, but they are a source of love and joy that is truly treasured by their three children, their five grandchildren, and their 8 great grandchildren.  And by at least this one daughter-in-law, although I’m pretty sure the other daughter-in-law and the son-in-law also appreciate them very much.

Jeff took a fast trip to see them before Christmas, and we went down together after Christmas for two days.  Had a lovely, quiet visit – which means Jeff and I do a little shopping (why does anyone pay full price for Christmas cards when they go on sale right after the holidays at half-price?  I’m all geared up for Christmas 2011!  Please be sure I have your mailing address if you want a card and Holiday News from me next year.) and catch a movie and visit other family members, which this visit was just my sister-in-law, Karen Miranda.

Karen & Jeff with Team Canada autographed jersey

I have to say something here about sisters-in-law:  I like mine.  All of mine, including the one I don’t really have any more because her marriage with my brother ended.  But Karen did something that I regret I did not do for the women my brothers married – she wrote me a note when Jeff & I got engaged to welcome me into the family, and to welcome me as a sister in particular.  It was the kindest, sweetest thing and I’m not even sure I told her how much it meant to me, never mind paying it forward.  Maybe for their birthdays this year, I should do this for them.

Oh, and for Stephen too, my no-longer-quite-new-brother-in-law.

By the way, on the movie front, THE KING’S SPEECH may just be the most perfect movie ever… after TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD.  I did not believe my love for Colin Firth could grow any bigger but it has.  And I don’t mean this in just a lustful, longing way… although Colin, you are numbers 1, 4, & 5 on my ‘Freebie Five’ list.  I’m just sayin’… but because he gets better & better & better as an actor with every single outing.  I don’t think that one can actually say that about Gregory Peck, whom I worship & adore in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and several other movies, because I believe he just played variations of his own, good, strong self.  But Colin… sigh.

Anyway, family has all gone home, Michael & Sally have probably recovered and are back to their bees & goats & dogs (and I hope she’s found her seed catalogue because I am counting on great melons and other goodies again this year), and the house is undecorated.  That leaves just the beets to throw out and that last piece of the Yule Log I cleverly hid behind the beets (well, not so cleverly – it just happened) to enjoy and we can move forward into an exciting new year.

Oh please, not too exciting, or at least, excitement of the happy kind.  I’m done with excitement that breaks my heart.

I hope you all had, if not a joyful Christmas season, then at least a peaceful one.  And may we all know contentment in 2011.