I did NOT fall off the earth but I had a nasty flu. THE flu, tested and everything.
It all started well, Monday the 16th, I had a power cleaning day. My goal was for the house to be clean before my birthday on the 18th and ready for us to go to NY on the 20th. I brought home plague monkey from school that afternoon sick and by morning I was right there with her. Somehow she recovered more quickly, I got the full death feeling of the flu for 7 full days. So, I did not have a fancy party for my 40th birthday, I had the flu (I do have a reclaim plan that is awesome but that its own post). I am super lucky Lars took the week off with use-or-lose vacation so he could do all the things I normally do. This included the majority of the packing…. it was ok.
The moral of this story is don’t procrastinate! The house was fairly clean, I actually had the majority of Christmas shopping done and packed ready to get in the car very early. Our teacher gifts were ready, I had the laundry done and we had just sorted out fancy outfits and shoes for the Christmas concert so we were in pretty good shape even if I couldn’t raise my head off the pillow. There were things that just didn’t happen like a few little gifts I was planning on hand making and some last week activities like finding cool Christmas lights but nothing that wrecked the holiday. #1 and Lars ended up doing the wrapping in NY, I wish I could have but I just couldn’t and it was nice to see #1 step up and do a good job.
We did drive 20 hours over 2 days to get to NY. It was a very dull drive with no excitement at all. I think the kids watched about 5 movies and were 90% well behaved. By the end of the drive, Lars was showing flu signs and I was feeling better so I drove a chunk. He succumbed to the flu the first two days in NY and then #2 and then #1. #2 only had about a day of feeling bad and #1 had 3 but they included Christmas so she was not top form for opening fun gifts. Good thing their major gift from us was a kindle each so she holed up in her bed with endless Netflix and Tylenol.
I was (fortunately) the only one that got the whole classic flu and I’m still not 100% two weeks later but I’m feeling much better. It is hard to drive that far to see people and just have no energy. I wasn’t contagious by the time we got there but part 2 of the flu is general inability to do what you think is a normal amount of activity. We got enough festive visiting in but nowhere near maximized. It also did not help that Mrs. Math was also sick and so were a few other NY friends so we all either didn’t feel up for it or didn’t want to cross infect each other.
We got home last night after a slightly more harrowing drive home. We dodged a major snow event, for the most part, it hit MN and was moving east so we beat it for the first day and a half of driving and only hit snow in the last 3 hours. Lars is a good driver but it was nice to get home and stop moving.
I didn’t take many pictures at Christmas but I’ll sift through what I have to see if it is worth a ‘Christmas post’ even though it is a week later. I hope your week of December 25th was all you wished it would be, or, at least you didn’t have the flu. In the end, it really was not all that sad. I felt bad but nothing fell apart, we have plenty of good medicine and comfortable beds, I even watched a few episodes of a show I like in my conscious periods. We did make it to Christmas, we saw the people we wanted to, we did a few things in NY and overall it was a good holiday, germs and all.
So proof people read because I got quite a few calls about my last post. Good to know that I normally keep the bar high for positive writing. In reality like everyone, my ups and downs are pretty on par with most, I just usually keep it off the record. Thank you to those who took a second to check on me though, it was just what I needed.
Christmas time is its own type of magic and we are keeping up with our traditions even while we add in new ones or let some drift away.
This year we have 4 countdowns to Christmas; Like other years, Santa’s beard is trimmed daily and each day is basically a positive and selfless item and so far so good. On ‘write a nice note for someone’ day I was gifted with some super sweet notes. I don’t have a picture this year but Santa is colored with style and his hat is a work of art (literally)
Two new count downs join the group. My mom sent a classic advent pop open calendar with a little candy and line from the Christmas story in each. Our post office got a little aggressive so all the candy actually fell out so it now lives in a tin and the fun is opening the door and reading the passage. #3 noticed that they all had ‘some guys name and some numbers’ at the bottom and I filled her in on how the Bible works. She then decided to read the bible. She will not be discouraged and the copy we have (that nobody knows where it came from) actually has pronunciation guides so it is not all that hard to read, except you know, for how hard it is to read. It is an odd outcome but I don’t mind if she reads.
Mom’s contribution was in semi reaction to my dad deciding that his daughters would enjoy a tea advent calendar. I don’t know about my sisters but I certainly enjoy it. The kids open the tea but after dinner, I make a little pot of interesting tea and we all have a little cup. Most have been really really good and overall I enjoy the process. On tea tastes like forest sweepings but 1 out of 10 isn’t bad. #3 likes all of them, #2 likes the ‘normal’ tea that happened to be one of the days and #1 has enjoyed a few and not liked a few. I’ve liked them all (except that one, pine needles are not for drinking).
The 4th countdown is the one that I remember best from my growing up, the 4 Sundays of Advent. It is a short little lighting of the candle and saying of prayer and singing a song but we follow it with a family dinner and all the kids love it. Of course, there was negotiations about who would lite what candle but they mostly worked it out and it is a nice part of our weekend. If all goes well, the 4th Sunday will be celebrated in Sayville this year.
There are a few things that have drifted. We don’t read Christmas books out loud anymore. In some ways, the tea took the spot but our bedtime has changed and they just don’t read with us anymore. It is a little sad but I’m overall glad they can all read solo and usually choose to (even the bible sometimes). We also won’t have the opportunity to celebrate Hannaka because we will be gone during the 8 nights. I’m sure we could find a way in NY but really it was about sharing that evening with our friend.
Finally, a Christmas event that accidentally started last year persists. In an odd hybrid of Scandinavian culture that surrounds us here, and, the semi detestable elf on the shelf the Tonte’s we made last year have started moving around the house and even brought gifts on the 1st of December. They are undeniably adorable and they are NOT watching us for Santa nor do they get into trouble in the night. They simply move about and create a magic moment every afternoon when they race inside to see where they moved to during the day. They are a good addition and a very low-stress magic maker.
We have the tree up and trimmed, decorations around and about, Santa has been visited, town tree has been officially lit and I am nearing the end of shopping. We have a plan for hand made gifts and they are in process. Each year we do different things so hard to say ‘tradition’ quite but this year the girls are taking the lead on projects they want. I’m glad to see the craft gene expressing itself! This weekend we will be doing the majority because next week we are busy every night of the week and heading off to NY on Friday.
Time to finish up and make the tea then chase 3 good girls into bed.
The question on my mind, is it worth it to complain?
My complaints fall into a few major categories;
- Absolutely unchangeable like the climate crisis, the politics of the country, the fact that people shoot other people and there isn’t a great way to get them to stop. I can add my voice to the chorus but is it interesting to read about another person thinking the aforementioned items are bad/out of control/why do they even happen so I just don’t.
- So small that in contrast to category 1 I feel dumb to even worry about them like the fact that my Christmas decorations on my front porch blowing in the wind make my ring doorbell (and thus my wrist-based alert watch) crazy. My busy schedule, the never-ending laundry, the fact my new sectional is missing feet on just 1 of 4 sections, a woman backed into the volvo so now I have car repair hoopla, cramming in all the holiday wants and needs, etc. This also ends up sounding like a humble brag so I just don’t.
- The weirdly personal and/or selfish stuff that I just don’t know who to actually talk to about some of it without it burdening someone else, or, it is just navel-gazing when my life is really pretty decent so I just don’t.
The nagging issue on my mind is sort of in all 3 categories of unchangeable, selfishly personal, and basically small in the scheme of the world. I attempted to write my feelings but they sounded winey so I deleted them and wrote this instead. I’m sure I’ll feel better tomorrow, today I’ll just keep doing things until its time for bed.
Hey, November got crazy, I did finish the shed but it was a marathon! I had tons of help and it was like a party, I can see how barn-raising used to be a community affair. We did get the snow, as expected, and the weather just kept on for the entire long weekend. However, it was not that cold so for me, that was really good. Sure there was snow on the ground but my fingers and toes were cozy in normal layers so the finishing bits got done. On Thanksgiving day I pulled out the ladder and air nailer and finished the roof tarp properly. Then we installed the door. It may have been what I was most worried about and in the end, it was the absolute easiest! We had everything going for us;
- High-quality Anderson door that was well built and had fewer steps for installing than my doorbell
- We built the opening to match the door so we didn’t need to adjust anything
- everything was square to start! that was a big surprise to us all but it shows that being careful at the start pays off in the end.
The only snafu was the cat stepping in the silicon gel and we wasted a little time laughing at the cat (and googling if it was toxic) (it was not). The thing was heavy but between 3 adults we shoved it in and that was more or less that. It makes the shed look like a real building, I’m very pleased.
Thanksgiving afternoon, post-construction projects, progressed as holiday normal. Friends came over, the table was set with cheer, food was cooked and consumed and everyone had a good time. I went to bed happy, and, for the first time in weeks, I slept well because I had ZERO crazy deadline projects on my mind.
The kids had off from Wednesday through the weekend, but, it was very crappy weather with snow, freezing rain, more snow interspersed with random decent weather. This is NOT GOOD for going places but the kids really did have a great time playing in the snow around the house. I can’t express in words how good it feels for them to decide to put on snow gear and go out and play. They play nicely for ages. It sounds dumb but it makes my heart full and happy, I hope I always remember this.
There was a vague plan to go get a Christmas tree ‘from the wild’ but the weather just wasn’t on our side so we went with our traditional visit to the Home Depot to pick a tree ‘from the not wild’. It is still a fun little trip and I love the tree we picked. The Home Depot must have extra jolly criteria for working the tree lot because like last year, the people who helped us were fun and happy and made the experience more than transactional.
In the past I’ve stressed about the ‘holiday card picture’ and over the past years, I’ve realized that I do better trying all year to get good pictures and then one low-stress fast fun photo if the opportunity arises. The perfect opportunity presented itself on Sunday – we had been unpacking the decorations and found all the assorted shirts so everyone put one on, also found were the assorted Santa hats. The day moved on and there was a break in the weather so everyone ran outside with boots, hats, scarfs and no other changes to outfit or hair or makeup and we took about 15 pictures in under 5 minutes and it worked great. I have two great shots and zero crabby kids.
The balance of this week has been all about putting the house back together post project and 5 days of lazy vacation life. I finished our Christmas card today and its at the printer and this weekend santa comes to our town to light the tree so I’m working on decorations and gift ideas too.
It is a different type of busy, Christmas still has its stresses and I create my own extra for wanting to do ‘all the things’ but it is a fun busy. Who knows how long the particular magic of Santa will last but I plan on enjoying it all.