Well, guess I’m out of the ‘post every day of the year’ game. I’ve been out the odyssey that is Christmas and this year we decided to drive. It is a loooong drive and not that long a break but I think it was worth it for the freedom having a car gives.
We got home last night around 5pm local and I thanked my past self for leaving a tidy house and also a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs. That plus a decent pantry and freezer means we could make dinner last night and breakfast today without leaving the house. I was in bed and asleep by 9:30pm and I needed it.
For future me who wonders what we did this particular Christmas trip, and, any of you all that like the details of things going on in other peoples worlds, here are the highlights;
- Drive to NY was as planned. Picked up kids 20min early from school to avoid the pickup rush and got to South Bend Indiana by 11ish. We found a dog-friendly hotel that was way better than expectations because it not only had a set of queen beds, it also had a pullout that Niamh claimed with a speed that would set records. Not the best night sleep ever because Prima was at loose ends and wanted to sleep on me (and I don’t like that) but she got us up by 7:30 so we got back on the road fast.
- Day 2 – also Driving – we found ourselves very ahead of things and looking at a going through the new york city traffic at peak time and it was looking bad. No point in speeding toward a traffic jam so we hit the internet and pinged a friend about meeting up for dinner. It was a great solution and we got to see two friends from college and finally meet their son and their dogs. They have greyhounds, the only dog (before Prima) that I really liked. Blessings upon Facebook and the relationships we have maintained because instead of bumper to bumper gridlock we had pizza with friends in Eastern PA. We crossed the bridges and got to my parents at the time I estimated from the start and happily put kids to bed.
- Day 3 – In NY and Miss Math stopped by and we all went to see another friend and her new baby. I also went to see my Grandmother, one of the reasons we had to make this trip happen. She truly isn’t herself but you visit those you love and offer the service you can.
- Day 4 – Christmas Eve – eve – my sister arrives from Texas! All thought of griping about my length of travel is squashed in light of her trip that is 1/3 further. A solid 3-day drive where ours is more than 1 but less than 2. All the kids mixed together and disappeared into the house and our youngest sister joined in with her 2 and it was a fun sleepover night.
- Day 5 – Christmas Eve propper – we all settled into creating the holiday with wrapping, last min gift shopping and stocking stuffing. Most of us went to church and occupied a block of seats and for the first time in ages all the kids were good enough that I could actually listen. There may have been bribes… but they worked. Holiday days are always hard to have go ‘right’ because of so many mixed expectations of all the different people involved but this one went well.
- Day 6 – Christmas! Everyone together makes quite the joyous noise. Our kids loved everything, there was minor drama but nothing out of the ordinary. Josie and her family arrived later to make Christmas part 2 and dinner was handled completely by people other than me so it was wonderful. Post dinner when kids were nearly in bed extended family came over for Christmas part 3. My rocks were well received and I left choices up to them and Lars was pretty happy his compass rose was the first pick. In the ‘lull’ between gifts and dinner, Lars and I visited all my dad’s boats. He is building a fleet and I can see what he sees in the newest. Boat builders are so clever, there are endless great little space saving and making tricks.
- Day 7 – The Texas cousins went off to visit their other grandparents and the timing was quite good. They all had fun together and didn’t get to the point of fighting with each other. We had fun with new toys and then headed over to see the extended family at the boxing day party. I didn’t actually get to see 100% of my relations but pretty close.
- Day 8 – Adventure in NYC. My parents were probably defended by the silence since we were ALL away for the day, even the local sister had plans with inlaws who were getting ready to snowbird. We drove in and met friends and saw a great magic show and then had a fancy dinner. The kids held it all together very well for the cold and odd hours for eating and impressed me with their ability to navigate fine dining in the city. The day went too fast but all of a sudden it was nearly 11 and we had to go or the parking guy would keep our car.
- Day 9 – Miss Math had a death in her family so I was able to help a tiny bit by watching her kids while she did the wake. Earlier in the day, I was able to meet up with another Highschool friend and see her new house. She said she walked in and immediately made an offer and I totally see why it is a great house. Our kids all played, the dogs sniffed each other a lot, and we chatted about this and that. Seeing friends like this make me miss living locally. I have great friends here for sure, but, the shared history is something you can’t forget.
- Day 10 – Cousins expected back in the house after lunch so before lunch we did the funeral mass, visited Grandy to say good-bye, and lots of laundries starting the uninstall process. The friend with the baby came over to see us and generally fun at home day. I didn’t get very far with packing but with no flight to catch our leave time was approximate.
- Day 11 – Crazy morning with all the kids (including local sister crew). Got up early because it was one of those days that needed to start early. I packed between visits and I’m really glad I saw everyone. The end was a rush and some things were forgotten but we had to get on the road to make it to see Lars’s family for their big gathering. This is a party we have missed every year either because we weren’t told when it was, or, we didn’t have a car to get there. It made the trip longer but it was really nice to actually meet the majority of the Lars cousins, and, we got to spend a little time with his brother. I could rant about the people who looked pained at being there and left asap because to them, the family is always there and they absolutely take it for granted. Instead, I choose to remember the people in the family that went above and beyond to welcome back the lost cousin and his family (and dog).
- Day 11.5 – this deserves its own bullet because we made plans to stay over with another old friend from PA. These were friends we used to see weekly or more frequently and we were in their wedding. Drift happens when everyone gets busy with building businesses (them) and families (us) but when we got there it was like no time passed. Their house was also FANTASTIC. I remember them building but never saw more than a few pictures but the original house is created by an artist and it shows and THEN they kept going and have added rooms that are worthy of a movie set. For people with no kids the house was pretty good for kids, maybe without kids, you get to just stay young? We stayed up far too late but I woke up rested since it was just that comfortable a house
- Day 12 – New Year’s Eve – breakfast with our friend and a friend of his was a great way to start out trip home. We headed out at noon and our goal was Indiana for the night. We discussed trying to push further but with our late night, we decided to just make reservations at the same hotel again since we should make it there by 10. Enough time to settle the kids and do something of a NYE countdown. About 10 min before our exit we drove into a whiteout snowstorm and I am extremely happy we had reservations, and, that we only had to drive a few miles in the storm. We got everyone in and settled easier than ever and did a Netflix countdown at 11pm EST to ring out the new year. I was asleep by midnight local time but we did midnight somewhere…
- Day 13 – up and out and past the carnage of the snow storm. The roads were decent but slow and on either side of the road were cars and trucks in the ditch. Some were new, some from last night, every single mile I felt lucky that we avoided it. All the typical boring drive stuff for the next 8 hours but the kids were decent and the dog was chill and we made it home without incident.
I feel like the moral of this trip is that friendships don’t expire. Every time we made plans with someone we hadn’t seen in ages it was nerve-wracking for a moment and then as soon as we saw them everything was great. True friends are true. I’m sincere in my offers to all of them to come visit and I hope sometime someone does!
This ended up long but that is how 13 days recap is. I was never bored, I never got to read my book, we didn’t look at a TV for 13 days. I think we did our best to see as many as we could but I always wish I could see everyone. We kept everyone fed but bedtimes and reading practice and workouts were cut from the list so now we have to reestablish a normal routine. Today I just let everyone wake up when they wanted, we ate, we had our final Christmas and I have to say the kids choose well for each other. We unpacked, we are taking it easy because tomorrow we start up life here again.
I hope you all had a productive or restful or fun or all of the above over the holiday week, can’t wait to see what we do in 2018.