Little Big Sis

It is New Years Eve eve and I am spending some quality time with my Grandchildren. This always includes sleeping over with them. It’s like a big pajama party. I have to admit that I have never seen an eight year old girl wear a sleep mask to bed, but this one had a unicorn on it and was quite fancy. She pointed out to me that there was a theme going with the unicorns on her PJ’s.

It was about 11:00 p.m. when we turned in last night. We pulled the trundle out on Addie’s bed and all three of us hit the sack. The festivities started with Addie reading to Max and I from her Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls book. After about a half hour we decided it was time to turn off the light. So the light went off and the Rainbow Maker came on. She is quite tickled with the gadget that Papa and I bought her for Christmas. It displays a rainbow on the ceiling or wall depending where you position it and turns off automatically after it has been on for a while.

At about 8:30 in the morning I hear a pixie-like voice say, “Grandma are you up?”
“Yes,” I reply. She said, “This is when I usually get up and open my curtains and make my plans for the day. Like usually I eat some breakfast and take a bath and do my chores, if I have any to do.”

“I see” I replied. “Well let’s let Max sleep a little more before we let a lot of light in the room.” She thought that was an okay idea.

She told me she didn’t sleep very well due to the fact that she was worried whether Max and I were comfortable. Aside from an occasional elbow in the head and back, my night was relatively calm.

So we got up, made our way out to the kitchen where my Son was already up and at the computer. We had a delicious breakfast of pancakes and watched PBS Kids on my laptop. What a great way to spend the last part of my visit home.

Best Christmas………ever

As most of you know, I was torn this Christmas. I wanted to be with my family, but my Husband could not come due to extra expenses involved in making the trip.

Throughout the two weeks before Christmas my mood was tempered by the knowledge that Sam would not be with me for the holiday and that took some of the joy out of the season.

No matter what, this holiday was going to be a challenge for everyone. The nation as a whole is struggling with a lot. We will all get along with less. No huge presents for the Grandkids or ourselves. No gift exchange with extended family, and I missed shopping for presents, as I am a shopaholic it was quite hard on me.

Even my trip to Chicago lacked some luster due to the fact I only really had money for the train trip. But I bucked up and just enjoyed the lights and sights and the sounds. Actually, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I’ll get the hang of it yet.

But I digress. It is Christmas Eve and I am at my Son’s house with the Grandkids. It doesn’t really feel like Christmas. Mom and I brought a roast and Sherrod is fixing Rice-a-Roni (the San Francisco treat) . I still keep hoping that Sam will show up by some act of God, but as the clock ticks on, I know the chances are dwindling.

Mom and I get ready for Midnight Mass and climb in the car at 10:30 p.m. We make our way to the little church in Parchment, where we join the choir for some caroling before Mass.

It is just a little after midnight and it is Christmas. I look up as I notice the vestibule door opening. There is something familiar about the coat I catch a glimpse of. Oh my Lord, it’s Sam. Mass had just started so I couldn’t scream, so I cry instead. He takes a seat in the last pew and I blow him kisses, waiting anxiously for the homily to start so I can go sit next to him.

When it was time I ran over and gave him a big hug and told him Merry Christmas and that I was so happy to see him. “You didn’t think I was going to let you spend Christmas without me, did you?” he said. Well actually, I did.

He had planned on getting in at 6:30 in the evening Christmas Eve, but instead got to Kalamazoo by bus via Lansing. It was like a scene from Trains, Planes, and Automobiles, and Love Story.

When all the family got to my Son’s house they were thrilled to see Sam. Grown women wept and my Brothers were tickled too.

So you see, this was one of our simplest Christmas’s yet, with a great meal and great company and I will remember it forever.

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Last Thursday I got to do something that I enjoy every Christmas Season. I visited Chicago with my girlfriend Priscilla. My journeys to the Windy City began more than a decade ago when I would join my neighbor on a bus trip every December. I was hooked and fell in love with the town.

Our trips are a little more sophisticated now. We take the South Shore Train from Michigan City, IN into Millennium Station and we are in the heart of the Loop. We took a different route to Michigan Avenue this trip. We went through the Theater District along State Street, stopped at a restaurant called the Corner Bakery, which featured great food at reasonable prices. It was wonderful. I had a fiesta salad in a bowl the size of Kansas. That was all I needed for the day.

As we walked the streets of Chicago, we noticed a lot of couples dressed to the nines, the ladies in their mink coats, the men carrying lots of gift wrapped packages to put under their tree. I am amazed at the wealth that is evident in this city.

Then we walk past the homeless and the beggars, people with paper cups in their hands asking for what change you may be able to spare. We walk by trying not to make eye contact. I comment on the fact that I hope that was not the Lord I just walked by, but you know it was as he says “what ever you do for the least of my brethren that you do unto me.” So I am basically screwed.

There is something about the chill in the air, the hustle and bustle of people trying to get from point A to point B both on foot and in traffic that gets my blood flowing.

And the lights, the Christmas lights are beautiful. That city knows how to do lights. We walk by the Hancock Tower with its Christmas Tree that features over one million lights. It is breath taking.

We visit Filene’s Basement, Nordstroms, Macy’s, have our makeup done at Bloomingdales and go to Williams and Sonoma for a sample of their Peppermint Bark. We witness an obviously disturbed soul yelling vehemently at his invisible companion constantly as he walks along Michigan Avenue in a very agitated manner. We look around to see if he is upset with us, but no, he just keeps going.

We make our way back along Michigan Avenue to the train station, stopping at Starbucks for an Eggnog Lattee (non -fat of course) and miss our train by about 3 minutes. So we wait for the next one in about an hour, people watching and glad to be off our feet for awhile.

The trip to Chicago was a Christmas present to myself, even though I didn’t buy anything, it was treat for all my senses. Merry Christmas!

I’ll Be Home For Christmas, But Which One?

Home, it’s a familiar word that has a lot of different meanings. There’s our childhood home, the house and town that we grew up in during our formative years, or the place we settled and raised our families over a period of time. Fortunately for us, for more than a half a century, all of my family has stayed within a 30 mile radius of each other.

This is the fifth Christmas where I have traveled back “home” to celebrate the holidays. There is something so joyful about being in the midst of my family. My Grandchildren and Son, who I miss on a daily basis, my Brothers, my Mom and my friends all define home for me.

Home is truly where your heart is. But this year my heart is in Vancouver. I had to make the trip without my Best Friend with whom I haven’t been separated from in 28 years. We will not spend Christmas together due to these tough financial times. Only one of us could afford to come and I won the coin toss.

Please do not mistake my whining for self-pity. We both realize there are soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who will be separated from their families, people who have no home in which to have Christmas, those who do not know where their next meal is coming from, and the list goes on.

What I am trying to articulate is (and my friends in Washington will appreciate this) that my home is now in Vancouver. That’s right, I am finally admitting it. I know it is not the place I will be forever, but it is home for now.

So I will continue to come back to Michigan for Christmas when I can, but not without my husband again. For he holds my heart and defines my “home”.

Merry Christmas to all!