I know I'm about a week or so late on this, but I'm just now finding the time to sit down and post about our Christmas. As most of you probably know, Katie has been home from college since December 18th. And as most of you probably don't know, I was a little hesitant about this visit. Katie has been home twice since going off to college in late August. Once for a long weekend in October, which was a fabulous and delightful time. And then again for Thanksgiving, which was a bit more a challenge. I wasn't really sure what to expect from this break and I was a little nervous since it's 5 weeks long! I'm beyond thrilled to report that everything is going extremely well. Everyone is getting along wonderfully and it feels so natural to have her back home. I sure hope I'm not going to have to go through the whole "letting go" process again come January 23rd. Someone with more experience in this department, please tell me I won't. Please?
Anyway, our Christmas celebrations consisted of some old and some new traditions this year. The day after Katie got home from college, she, Madeleine and I attended a Christmas Tea at a charming gift shop/cafe in nearby Massachusetts. Tickles is one of Katie's favorite stores and they have a sweet little restaurant which is the perfect spot for a ladies lunch. This is the first year that they've done a Christmas tea and it was such a wonderful afternoon. The three of us agreed that this event is something we would like to add to our Christmas traditions. It was a wonderful mother/daughter experience.
Decorating the Christmas tree has always been a fairly stressful tradition in our family. It always turns out to be more The Simpsons than Norman Rockwell, but surprisingly this year it was pure family bliss! We decorated the tree the night Katie came home from college and I was holding my breath the whole time. There was no drama and everyone was engaged and happy! Now that's a tradition I'd like to see continue!
Every year for the past 10 years I have spent at least one day volunteering for a wonderful organization here in RI - Adopt-a-Family (AAF). AAF provides a full Christmas for needy families in one impoverished city in RI. This year they provided Christmas presents for over 2000 children in over 1100 families. That's a lot of children. Sandy, of It's a Jungle Out There, is on the board of AAF and has been the heart of the organization for over 20 years. It's through her that I got involved. I have adopted a child for each of the last ten years and also volunteered my time during "Delivery Week". I am always overwhelmed each year by the sheer volume of gifts donated and the selfless generosity of the donors. I didn't get many photos this year, but these are from the 2009 Delivery Week.
My favorite Christmas tradition is spending Christmas Eve with my Dad, Sandy and my brother Paul and his family at my Dad's house. This tradition started 32 years ago when my Grandmother and Grandfather hosted their 4 sons and their families at their home on Christmas Eve. I always loved Christmas Eve at Grandma's surrounded by wonderful food, my aunts, uncles and my cousins - some of whom I saw only on this day. It was magical then and it's still magical now. Eventually, Grandma was no longer able to host and my Dad and Sandy took over the duties. And several years later, as my generation grew up and got married and started having children of our own, it just got too complicated to fit the event into everyone's schedule. Finally, after my grandmother died in 1995, it was decided that each of her 4 sons would host his own Christmas Eve celebration for his family. It's still a magical evening and I know my Grandmother would be pleased to know that the tradition she started in 1978 is still an important part of our family's history.
Ever since we moved back to RI in 2001, Christmas Day Brunch has been held at Geoff's brother's house. And then Christmas Day and dinner is back here at our house. This year we had a large group - 18 people - family and our dear friends The Neaves, who have spent Christmas with us for the last 7 years.
The 2010 Christmas Season was truly one of our best! Every year I get a little bah humbuggy about the stress of Christmas, and I need to remind myself that for the past 3 years Christmas has actually been very peaceful and practically stress free. As a matter of fact, when I turned my 2010 calendar from October to November I found a note I had written to myself at the very beginning of the year. It said, "Pam, remember that the holidays were actually very nice and not all that stressful last year." I actually didn't remember writing that and reading it did help to alleviate the holiday humbugs. I've written that same note in this year's calendar. I wonder if I will need the reminder, or if I will remember the good will I felt during the holiday season this year. It will be interesting to see on November 1, 2011.