Monday, December 21, 2015

'Twas the Week before Christmas

Thursday: yoga class (that Ommmm seems a too distant memory now!), a bank appointment, and two hours' travel to the city. Plans for collapsing with books in our apartment were scuttled by a desperate call from a daughter whose sitter cancelled just before a much-anticipated adult night out at son-in-law's work Christmas party. Who could say no? Add to day's list of activities: read 12+ bedtime books to two little ones.

Friday: Long morning run to burn calories in anticipation of Christmas shopping and lunch date with daughter. Spent an hour shopping on my own before meeting up, but the day's highlight was getting my grown-up girl all to myself (granddad was the delegated sitter). Conversations flow much better and the food enjoyed so much more when we're not taking turns holding the baby or stopping to answer a pre-schooler's fourteenth "excuse me, mommy, I need to tell you something." After lunch we brought the same concentration and sense of fun to our shopping expedition. I'm not sure when my daughter last had several hours to browse a favourite shop (we chose just one, Aritzia), but watching her come out of the change room with the perfect new pair of jeans; laughing with her as she emerged in a looks-good-on-the-hanger-but-this-is-so-not-flattering; admiring the pragmatism of her winnowing, rejection of the toddler-unfriendly silk in favour of its microfibre cousin; recognizing the difference between the "this will do and it's on sale" and the "this is a bit pricey but OMG, I love it!" --- I can only wonder why I waited so many years before moving to a "let's buy your gift together" approach  (we've been doing this 3 or 4 years now). No surprises is a good thing!
Still, fun and rewarding as it was, I was exhausted by the time Pater and I met up back home, and relieved that he still had energy to make dinner. What a guy!

Saturday: squeezed in a couple of appointments with our realtor, enlarging our mental database in preparation for someday's permanent move to the city. Exciting stuff, but draws down the emotional batteries... Recharged them with another lunch, more shopping, different daughter, similar satisfactions. Despite the predictable crowds of the last pre-Christmas weekend, we got excellent service and I carried home bags filled with exactly what she wanted and something she knew my son-in-law would like. Again, no surprises but no regrets. ... And again, my good man had dinner ready for me at home. (Amusingly, as grateful as I am that he makes the meals, he's even more grateful I do the gift shopping!)

Sunday we took a day for ourselves. We were at our chosen retail shop for doors opening and out again within a half hour, his gift from me chosen together, no need to find time to return later for fitting. Done in time, in fact, to give him an early gift at the cinema up the road where I treated him to an afternoon with 007. Have you seen Sceptre? That Mr Craig is not too hard on the eyes, is he?
We followed the movie with drinks and a light early dinner eaten at the bar of our favourite comfy hotel lounge. Relaxed sophistication an oasis in a weekend of Festive Busy.

Today: another run in preparation for another lunch, this time with my sister. Perhaps we'll reminisce about our week in Paris this past spring. She'll have to watch the time, though, and head back to work; I'll watch mine because of another appointment with the realtor. ... But by late afternoon, Pater and I will be back here unwinding over dinner, chatting about how rich the season has already been in its gifts, packing up to head home to the island tomorrow, strategising about all the groceries we still need to buy and boat home before the kids arrive en masse. It's all a bit too much, quite honestly, and it's also just right. . . Somehow I suspect that despite my No Surprises approach, there will be surprises, and they may not have anything to do with gifts, and they will probably get severely in the way of Festive Perfection (he insists, for example, that there's no need to order a turkey, and this is a case where I will get very little satisfaction from "I told you so")

But are we ready for Christmas? It's already here, and we're enjoying it one day at a time.  Meanwhile, I grabbed a moment in the change room, shopping with my daughter, to finally take a selfie wearing my new jeans. 

I know. Odd expression on my face. 'Twill have to do. As will this scrabbled post. You probably don't have time to read anyway, but know that I'm thinking of you as we hurry through these busy days. Let's just try to remember that we still have a few choices, and that the busy preparations might be part of our pleasure as well. May you keep finding the Merry! 

And do leave your Bah Humbugs and your Merry Merrys and any suggestions or comments or Christmas memories you'd like to share below. Or tell me why you applaud or deplore the idea of subtracting some of the surprise from Christmas morning. 
But for now, I have literally got to run. 
 

39 comments:

  1. Hi Mater, I'm exhausted just reading about your last few days! Our Christmas is very uncomplicated since there's just the 4 of us. Yes, there has been a flurry of gift-giving and mailing for family and friends, but that was all done and dusted ages ago. On Wednesday we go into town to take our younger son's girlfriend to the airport; he will probably come home with us then, his brother is working and he'll be picked up on Thursday morning. I think they are both working again on Boxing Day, so it will be back to the two of us. My husband is off now for 2 weeks - I just got back from the gym and we'll go out for lunch soon. I have to say though, I'm a little envious of your situation - I'm sure you'll all have heaps of fun amid the chaos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so impressed by how you're keeping up the fitness commitment, Patricia.
      And you're right, there will be lots of fun amid the chaos. So glad you'll have your boys with you at Christmas -- it all begins to change so quickly at the stage you're at. Enjoy the quiet time with your husband -- Boxing Day is really my favourite day of the year. No reason to move, a fridge full of leftovers. . . ;-)

      Delete
    2. Thank you Mater. And my fitness commitment will waver for a few days - I have an injury. A cleaning injury! Was cleaning the shower and leaned in to spray it, twisting myself somehow. Oh well.

      Delete
  2. Sounds like a wonderful way to spend your time in the city. Plenty of time for your books another time. Interested to see your hair. Had forgotten to ask how your flirtation with grey was going after Europe. Do you like it? Will you persevere? Have a lovely christmas Mary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mary. I'm not minding the grey at all, truly, although it's sometimes curious to find in the mirror. I think I'll stick with it, although I hope to grow the curls out more on top and I'll probably have a few highlights drawn through. Merry Christmas to you as well!

      Delete
  3. Wishing you and your family a very merry Christmas and stay warm we are going to my sisters where we shall spend most of the day in the pool. Boxing Day is always a quiet day for us, recovering watching the Sydney to Hobart yacht race leaving Sydney harbour and then settling done to the test match cricket .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas as well, and a lovely Boxing Day (in many ways, Boxing Day is my favourite day of all, basking in the memory of a good Christmas, all the pressure over, a fridge full of leftovers...)

      Delete
  4. You are so blessed with your children and grandchildren (and Pater,of course),lucky you. I am pretty exhausted,like Patricia,with the whirlwind of your days.
    I like your jeans. I have similar,after couple of times it isn't weird any more. You look great!
    It is funny,I always like Bonds best when they are leaving,so yes for Craig!
    I feel peaceful in spite of busy script. Decorations and gift buying already done. To do list goes smoothly,so far so good
    I try to avoid lunches and dinners out,so hard to maintain balance during holidays( to many social events :-)). I'm meeting with friends for drinks (not to mention coffee!!!)
    My mother and I divide duties. Christmas Eve lunch- at the restaurant,I cook dinner chez moi. She is preparing Christmas lunch at their apartement . Boxing day with dear friends.
    Have fun! <3
    Merry Christmas
    Dottoressa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting remark about liking Bonds when they are leaving... I'll have to share that with my husband, who is a bigger fan than I am and probably keeps track.
      Glad you're feeling peaceful despite a busy script -- I think that's key -- nothing wrong with being busy as long as you can be so without feeling unduly stressed.
      I understand about avoiding the lunches and dinners out -- I've just begun watching my calories again, needing to shuffle a few pounds out, and it's been tough with the scheduled outings. Nice that you can share the cooking with your mother and one restaurant meal makes a nice change. Merry Christmas!

      Delete
  5. Happy to hear you're extending Christmas and enjoying the days prior to it. Spending some quality time, having fun with your daughters then home to a man who cooks! and appreciates that you do the gift shopping. Sounds perfect to me :) I'm also enjoying these days ... Still only have lights on the main tree but everyone's happy so why worry. I ll finish decorating it and wrapping the last presents tomorrow. Having Christmas Dinner at my daughters for the first time followed by a lovely walk then everyone back home ( we re blessed that at the moment we live within walking distance) to open our pressies! Some surprises and some, like yours, chosen together!
    Wishing you and your family a very special Christmas ... making lots of happy new memories!
    Rosie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merry Christmas, Rosie! I love your attitude -- if everyone's happy with lights-only, why worry indeed! You'll get it done eventually and everyone can enjoy the transformation. . .
      How fortunate you are living within walking distance of your daughter's -- and that she's doing the Christmas dinner. Perfect!

      Delete
  6. I enjoy the run up days to Christmas and am celebrating the solstice today with candles and late watching of The Holiday. It is pleasant not to have to cram lots of stuff in and to spend my days without plans. Adventures in baking today resulted in exploding mince pies. Try again tomorrow. A few years ago this would have been a disaster, today just a short shouting spree. And Father Christmas came round the village, waving and shouting Ho Ho Ho in a motor driven sleigh covered in lights. Pretty good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Following your blog, I can see that our approaches are very similar. I'd hoped to do some baking today, but we brought two little girls home with us yesterday, advance scouts for their parents' arrival today and tomorrow, so I think we'll just concentrate on getting the beds made up and the groceries bought and the gifts wrapped, and the . . . oh, excuse me, I have to go take a nap... Yikes! But yes, it's all good, as the kids say. Merry Merry Merry to you!

      Delete
  7. Blog on the run, comment on the run, here we all go, but we're together! You look totally adorable in the jeans, and the hair continues to suit you so well, IMO. Here's to wonderful Christmas and time with family and the not so wonderful times too but it's all one and the same, isn't it. xoxox.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw thanks, adorable is just what I am for, don't you know? ;-)
      May you and all of yours have a spectacularly happy Christmas . . . or a blessedly joyous one. You pick! Christmas hugs to you. xo

      Delete
  8. Hmmm I also spent Sunday evening with Mr Craig ... definitely an agreeable view and unwind before Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love that you are getting in these runs, and I admire the approach to gift shopping you and your family have developed. I might start suggesting that my sister, and I start to do the same on those holidays when we get more than a day or two together.

    I still haven't seen the most recent Bond. Hopefully we'll get a chance at some point when there's some downtime over the next week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Still hoping to find time to comment on your blog -- read your first post and am so happy to see you back. Kudos on what you've managed in the last year or two since you last posted and Merry Christmas to you and your guy!

      Delete
  10. I have been reading your last few posts about your Christmas preparations and trying to put my finger on my feelings about this time of year. Still cannot quite put it into words but there is something about the emotional labour - heavy lifting indeed and usually on the part of one person - which goes into making a Good Christmas around these parts. And maybe there is also something about the glittering decorations and the festive bonhomie which exposes the cracks in the relationships, the familial power plays from generations back and thus the yawning chasm between fact and fictive construction around the Yule log. Layer on the guilt I feel at even thinking this when I am blessed to still have both parents alive and well, two adult children still living with us and all the usual accoutrements of privilege - health, roof over head, food in the fridge and good friends around - and I find myself feeling churlishly ungrateful. I know that things will not always be this good.

    What a Grinch am I? Had better go and cheer myself up by marking a few more student essays...

    (Excuse my enveloping myself in the cloak of anonymity - I feel I cannot admit to this Pollyanna breakdown in my own name)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mme Anon -- it's a midnight blue, velvet cloak, right? very elegant, no worries.
      I absolutely agree with you about the difficulty of Christmas, even for those of us who seem to "have it all" in terms of domestic good stuff. The reality is that the fatigue, emotional and physical, still hits, privilege or not, as much as we know it's a relative fatigue. This is some of what I wrote about in a post a few Christmases ago, and why I had to step back for a few years from things I'd been feeling obliged to do and becoming resentful of. It became very important to recognise what was choice, and then to exercise that choice. I've almost got to where I want now, although the last day or two, I'm sensing that I may yet have to do some editing for future Christmases. But honestly? getting rid of the student essays helped considerably! (Sorry for the plug for retirement ;-)
      Merry Christmas and thanks so much for commenting!

      Delete
    2. Ooh yes, it's definitely midnight blue velvet... Thank you so much for your very understanding reply. You are absolutely right about making choices. And you know what? When I got to my marking, In amidst the pile of turgid repetitions of my half heard lecture notes - so not what I was after - were four essays that were exceptionally good, thoughtful and original. Hallelujah. That's why we educators do our jobs. But now I am going to swish off in my gorgeous cloak and find a quiet spot to read as mercifully the house is deserted for a while (you don't mind if I add an imaginary diamond starburst, do you? A tad vulgar, not to say ostentatious, but who's to see?) May you have a lovely, peaceful and blessed Christmas

      Delete
  11. Just delightful, ma. We were on the same celebratory mode when, in 24 hours, we lost a beloved uncle and the mother of a dear friend, one of those women who was "everyone's" mother". A reminder that Christmas is a fixed event, a date, and life doesn't wait for it. We will still celebrate, but now celebrating two loved ones, as well as the holiday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh K, I'm so very sorry! You're so right -- Christmas is a fixed date, and an arbitrary one at that, historically, ecclesiastically. Better to find its spirit where possible, and bring it into life as much as possible. I hope you and yours are still able to enjoy a Merry Christmas, in the memory of those newly lost beloved.

      Delete
  12. Always lovely to be cooked for! You are so lucky having some of your family close by to share with.

    We have the same dilemma in our family, torn between not wanting more clutter but enjoying the odd surprise. Gifts carry memories too but take up much needed space. I guess we are lucky to have such dilemmas, though.

    Have a Happy Christmas, Frances!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's true that gifts carry memories as well -- hadn't thought of quite that aspect of them, even though I wrote a whole post, years ago, about a pair of boots my dad gave me -- 45 years ago!
      May yours be a Merry Christmas as well, Marianne!

      Delete
  13. I so love those mother daughter shopping trips and Aritzia is a fabulous shop. Your past few days have been incredibly busy so I hope that you recharge before you prepare the family feast. Good luck on the turkey front...I always order mine!
    Enjoy the last minute preparations and best wishes for a happy Xmas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't worry -- I'm napping with the Little Girl! ;-)
      And Paul managed to bring a fresh turkey home yesterday -- wish he were as restrained with the "I told you so's" as I would have been ;-)
      Merry Christmas to you and your family!

      Delete
  14. It all sounds highly satisfactory ! As one would expect , you've all organised yourselves to perfection .

    Clothes shopping with daughters (grown-up ones) is great fun and should be done more often ... we all know exactly just how honest to be ! And where to 'houd our wheesht ', as my mother and her sisters would have said .
    Love the jeans !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. S&S, or perhaps I've dis-organised myself to good enough? That's all I want to aim at, I think. I do love shopping with my grown-up daughters, although some are better for some things than others. "Houd our wheesht" -- wonderful! lucky you!
      and thanks re the jeans, they're different, but I love them too!

      Delete
  15. Your tradition (new) of lunch and shopping with your girls is one I'd like to emulate one year. Surprises are well and good, but getting just the "right" thing trumps all.
    Merry Christmas, Mater, may your Christmas be bright.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you'd enjoy the tradition, Lorrie, especially with the fashion talent in your family.
      Merry Christmas to you and all your lovely crew!

      Delete
  16. You look fabulous in your new jeans! They do suit you so. And the running around and lunches and shopping sounds wonderful. Increasingly I feel it is the time spent together, the gifts chosen together, that matter, more than the surprises. Not there yet, but working on it. Have a very merry holiday, whatever happens, whatever doesn't. And we are all here together, just running and running and treading water, but happily keeping each other afloat. Or so I hope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw thanks, Mardel! Today I'm treading a bit more frantically than I was, but the waves are gentle enough and it's all good. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

      Delete
  17. Thank you for being so real. I finally subscribed to your wonderful blog. I also love your shorter hair.

    Have a wonderful time with your family....The little ones grow so fast.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're very welcome, and thank you so much for reading and commenting -- should you want to add a name (your own first name or a pen-name) at the end of your comment, you can still be Unknown, but it's easier for me to get a sense of you. If not, that's fine to, but it can be a convivial and supportive group here, and it's great if we get to know each other a bit.
      Merry Christmas!

      Delete
  18. Love the new jeans! Here just slogging through a short but busy week at work, looking forward to winding down during a long, quiet holiday weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your last few months have sounded just exhausting, and I sincerely hope the holiday brings you some peace and replenishment of spirit and body. Take care, my friend!

      Delete
  19. Having a lovely day doing the last minute essentials. Everyone is in a good mood and keen to chat in a very unBritish manner. Even a man who is clearly happiest when grumbling found something about which to chunter in the turkey queue so he was delighted too. Rest of us rolled eyes. All is good. ( although that turkey is looking a bit big now I come to think of it) Happy Christmas to all

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...