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And Then It Was Over

We did not have a white Christmas. As my mom so aptly put it, “We did not have a flake of snow.” Actually, that applies to both Michigan and Illinois – we had a Winter Weather Advisory for 1-3 inches of snow, and my mom (in Illinois) had a Winter Storm Watch for up to 7” of snow. But as I told Dave, it actually didn’t bother me because we were traveling on Christmas Day. I would rather have clear roads, no rain or snow, and cloudy skies if we have to be driving, and that’s exactly what we did have.

We got to my mom’s around 10 am (one of the benefits of living in different time zones … we left here at 8:30 am, it’s just under 2-1/2 hours of driving, and we got to her house at 10 am because she’s an hour behind us). We had a wonderful six hours together, and then we left a little earlier than planned because Eric needed to catch the 4:17 train back to Chicago and we had to get him to the train station in time. We had our usual ham and lasagna for dinner, along with green bean casserole and garlic bread. I’d told Dave when we were driving there that I’d been craving ham and lasagna SO BAD. He thought it was hilarious – what a combination! But it’s what we always have – ham and some type of pasta dish – and mmmm, it’s so good.

We got to spend Christmas Eve with Paige, her boyfriend, and her roommate, and that was awesome. Cinnamon rolls for breakfast, then gift opening; in the afternoon, Paige and Michael made Rice Krispie trees while Dave and I mostly watched, offering cooking advice here and there. We had beef stew for dinner, which was a first for us. I do believe these kids are pickier than even I was, so we had a brainstorming session the week earlier to find something they would both like to eat … and beef stew won. It really worked out well because I got the stew in the crockpot before we left to pick up the kids, and I didn’t need to stop and put dinner together later in the day.

Cinnamon Rolls

Dave’s awesome cinnamon rolls, a Christmas tradition

Dave and I opened our gifts when we got home from Illinois on Christmas night, and we waited until then to give the cats their catnip bananas (I wanted to be here in case they went Catnip Crazy). Let’s just say the catnip bananas were the hit of the day. At one point Maxie hid hers under the Christmas tree skirt, then started diving and freaking out trying to get it back. The Christmas tree did survive, but I’m glad we were here to supervise!

Now we look toward New Year’s Eve, which we CAN’T WAIT for. Appetizers and games and awesome company! We don’t drink at all – Dave has Hepatitis C (and is going back into treatment in March – more on that later) and I take medication that doesn’t mix well with alcohol. But we don’t need to drink to have fun, so it’s all good.

I can’t say I’ll be sad to see 2014 go – we had some gut-wrenching changes this year – but we also had fun, and we made the best out of a bad situation. Hopefully 2015 will be a bit more calm and stable, but as long as we have each other I think we’ll be just fine.

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Ushering in 2013

Happy New Year’s Eve, guys!  Let’s party, man…let’s get drunk and wooo and…well, maybe not.  Could I perhaps interest you in some appetizers and board games?  My NYE celebrations have pretty much varied from one extreme to the other over the years.  How about you?

I used to expect a lot out of this one day.  As a kid, I would watch my beautiful mother get ready for that year’s New Years Eve party.  I still associate the smell of hairspray, perfume and cigarette smoke with watching her carefully apply her makeup and do her hair before heading out to a mysterious event while we stayed home with a babysitter.  It was so fun to get the little trinkets when my parents came home – they would always bring us something:  a noisemaker, a horn with the paper that unrolled when you blew into it, or a hat (sometimes like a tiara!) with the new year emblazoned on it.

Sometimes my parents would host the party themselves, and my brother and I would be in charge of greeting guests and taking their coats.  That was fun too, seeing everyone dressed up, hearing the music downstairs (where the party was happening) and feeling the general air of excitement.  In the morning I would get up early and helpfully clean up the downstairs and the bar area.  I loved doing this, for some reason – clearing away the cups and plates, emptying ashtrays, and (ahem) pouring all the leftover alcohol down the drain.  (I think I thought it went bad if you left it out.)  I don’t remember my parents ever yelling at me for this – I don’t know if they didn’t realize I did it or if they did correct me and I’ve just forgotten.

When I got old enough to attend parties myself, that’s when things went sour.  I always built the evening up in my head and it never matched up.  I was usually left alone at a party with nobody to talk to, or I’d actually get in a fight with whatever guy I went with.  The crowning glory was the year I was 18, and I went with my boyfriend to a party held in a hotel.  He took off to do something (get us drinks?  I don’t remember anymore) and I was in this room with a bunch of people I didn’t know.  They were all involved in their own conversations and nobody talked to me.  After about an hour of sitting there getting increasingly bored by the minute, I decided to just walk around the huge hotel and see if I could find him.  And find him I did:  walking through the large double doors into the lobby, holding another girl’s hand.  You can imagine how the rest of the evening went.

In my 20s, before the kids came along, my first husband and I would sometimes get a reservation at a restaurant with my parents.  They’d have a whole deal with drinks, a fancy meal and sometimes dancing afterward.  We did this a couple times until we got tired of the usual routine:  we’d have a reservation and still have to wait for hours to be seated.  (I remember playing many games of cards with my mom while we waited.)

When the kids came along, we’d usually do parties with the neighbors who had kids near their age.  Somebody would host, everyone would bring some kind of food, and it was a nice time for the whole family.  After just a few of these parties, the group of neighbors broke up as some moved away and we stayed put.

When I met Dave in 1998, we settled into a nice routine, one that doesn’t have me dreading New Years Eve anymore.  We would buy a bunch of appetizers and stay in, making lots of gooey bad-for-us food that we indulged in for the one night.  If the kids were with us (some years they were at their dad’s), we would play board games until midnight.  We’d bring them with us to the store so they could pick out the appetizers and desserts they wanted.  One year we made hot fudge sundaes.  We always played games:  Sequence, Phase 10, Yahtzee, Cranium…sometimes Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Pass the Pigs – whatever we were in the mood for.  We’d watch the ball drop on TV and kiss and whoop as the new year arrived.

This year will be a little different as Dave and I transition back to NYE with just the two of us.  We don’t drink, and I’m not in the mood for the appetizer thing this year, so we are making a homemade lasagna and apple pie for dessert.  A little decadent but what the heck, right?  We are very much not party people…in fact, I can’t imagine anything I would enjoy less than to go to a party on NYE.  So we’re going to be here, starting in on Season 3 of Breaking Bad while Dave nurses this terrible cold he still has.  We’ll see if we make it to midnight.  We’ve never gone to bed before midnight on NYE but there’s a first time for everything!

Here’s to 2013, my friends.  ::raises glass::

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