Because our family is scattered all over the place and has been for a while, getting all of us together only happens once in a very few whiles. I think the last time we were together was in 2015, but that was minus one grandchild and Meiling’s partner, KN. However, with our daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and Brett and I living in Tennessee, and knowing our our son and grandson would be here for the Christmas break, the girls made plans to join us as well so we could celebrate Christmas together this year. Brett’s sister and her husband, Linda & Erik, also drove over from Dallas to see everyone so we had a very full but very happy house for several days. YaYu stayed with us, WenYu, Meiling, and KN stayed at a nearby Airbnb, and Linda and Erik stayed in a nearby hotel.
There was always some kind of game being played.
Our son and grandson had arrived in Tennessee on the 17th, the girls and KN on the 21st, and Linda and Erik on the 22nd, and we made the most of our time together. We ate together, played together, talked together, and just had a grand time being with each other. Brett and I had a blast watching the kids interact whether that was everyone playing Nintendo or the girls and KN doing wiggle dances with six-year-old K. Although Kaipo was initially upset by all the strangers that had invaded his space, he got to know everyone and loved being spoiled by all.
Of course with ten family members who hadn’t seen each other for ages there was an abundance of presents to open on Christmas morning following our traditional breakfast of bagels, cream cheese, smoked salmon, scones, and fruit (and mimosas for some too). Meiling and our grandson served as our elves making sure things kept moving and gifts were given out in order. We all had a lot of fun and oohed and aahed over everything everyone received. Our children were very generous this year – all of them chipped in and got Brett a beautiful mountain bike and all the accoutrement (helmet, pump, lock, mirrors, etc.) and he is still floating up on Cloud Nine about that. I received a few items off of my list as well, including a much-desired Le Creuset grill pan and some beautiful pieces of silver jewelry. I think we managed to make a few of the kids’ dreams come true as well as fulfill some of their needs, and the grandkids got everything they wanted and more. I had gotten input from almost everyone of what to serve for Christmas dinner, and the final menu included ham, macaroni and cheese, roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli, sushi, namasu, biscuits, and apple pie and cupcakes for dessert. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to pull it off, but with help from our daughter-in-law everything got made and served on time.
The day after Christmas, Brett’s sister took the girls and KN out to lunch so Brett and I could relax a bit (we still had the grandkids over for a while) and get the house back in order. We all got together at our son and daughter-in-law’s apartment in the evening and were treated to a fabulous pizza party! Afterwards, the kids took the grandkids back to their Airbnb for a sleepover to the delight of both M&M and the grandkids. On Tuesday the girls and I went to Aldi – none of them had ever been even though all three live near one – they were impressed!
It was honestly the most wonderful Christmas celebration we’ve ever enjoyed. Brett and I were in heaven with the whole family together, and even if we all were crammed into our small apartment everyone had a place to sit and there was always enough (usually more than enough) food for everyone. Actually, having so many people here made things a bit easier for me as someone was always helping to keep things picked up, putting dishes in the dishwasher, or otherwise helping to keep things organized. And, to top it off, it snowed two days before Christmas but was too cold for the snow to melt so we also enjoyed a bit of a white Christmas. However, the weather was pretty miserable overall and very cold from the deep freeze that came through while everyone was here. I have to salute Brett for going out in the cold every day to pick up Meiling, KN, and WenYu in the morning and well as taking them (and YaYu) shopping on two days and getting them back to their Airbnb every night.
On top of all things Christmas we also celebrated M & M’s 20th anniversary (they were married on Christmas Day in Japan), and Meiling & KN’s engagement!
Of course all good things come to an end, and the good times ended here when the girls and KN received word the night of the 27th that their Southwest flight the next day had been cancelled (our son and family had left for a few days in Florida). What a mess that caused! The first affordable flights back to Boston for all four were not until the 31st, and with their Airbnb rental over the girls and KN moved in with us (thank goodness we had a sleeper sofa). Meiling ended up finding an affordable ticket and returning to Boston on her own on the 29th – they have a pet that needed care and she was also running low on medication. WenYu, YaYu, and I went out and bought a bit more food on the 28th to get through the extra days they would be here, and we managed to keep everyone fed and provide them a place to sleep. We took walks, they worked out in the complex’s gym, played cards, we cooked together, and watched movies (Maverick and Glass Onion were our two favorites). Brett and I put our Christmas things away on the 29th which eased up the space somewhat, but by noon on the 31st Brett, Kaipo, I were finally on our own again. We enjoyed a quiet New Year’s Eve, barely staying awake until midnight, and then celebrated on New Year’s Day with a steak dinner and the sparkling wine we were too tired to drink the night before. We had had a wonderful time with our kids and were grateful for the extra time with them, but the last four days with everyone crowded into our little apartment were truthfully tiring for everyone, and we know the girls and KN were grateful as well to be back at their homes again.
In spite of all the unexpected turmoil this year we are planning to gather again for Christmas next year, either here or maybe up in Boston. Hopefully we’ll have a slightly less crazy and over-the-top occasion than we had this year, but who knows? In the meantime, we have much to enjoy as well as look forward to and celebrate this year, including our grandson’s relocation to Tennessee (for school) this month, Meiling and KN’s wedding in the summer, and some possible other upcoming travel.