I look fondly on my Facebook page and instagram feed of all my friends' young children doing such wonderfully festive things this time of year. I remember and miss the mixture of excitement and exhaustion that comes with having younger children during the Christmas season. Now, December means final exams at UBC for Adam (he's just thrived this first term) and exams and projects for Colin in grade 11 and extra studying for an EMR course (so proud of him!). And of course, Colin went full out every day for seasonal spirit week at school!
Now that they are older, they are doing many of the things we would have done as a family with their friends - movies and dinners out, skating, etc. We are just in a different chapter and I am so proud of the young men the boys have become! I cherish when we are a family of four home together at some point in the evening - even having dinner together occasionally!
Colin helped me find a tree and get it set up, the boys have taken care of their own shopping and wrapping and have helped in the kitchen. The boys have simple requests for Christmas - a large umbrella (UBC is pretty miserable in the rain and cold), a rolled cake for dessert, a basket of hot chocolate and apple cider packets. Gone are the days of waiting in line at Toys R Us for the "it" toy! In so many ways, things are much calmer and blissful during this season.
In December, two days apart, we celebrate our anniversary (22 years) and Neil's birthday. This year, for the first time since the boys were in our lives, Neil and I went out and celebrated our anniversary. We had a lovely time at the Vancouver Christmas Market and a night downtown.
December is now also a time of grief for me. My mom passed away two years ago and I wish I could say it gets easier. I still burst into tears at the most inopportune times, triggered by a memory, sight or sound. It is because of my mom's eternally optimistic disposition that I keep myself from falling into depths and find inner strength I didn't know I had. The simple joys in my mom's life are constant reminders to me to seek joy and I sense my mom particularly at this time of year...at the church service with my father, as I stand at my counter baking, as we decorated the tree or as I've been writing grocery lists.
As I set out my serving dishes, planning ahead as mom always did, I thought about the simple habits and traditions that are part of who I am, many instilled from her. The Christmas crackers, cookie plate and traditional menu were all a tribute to my mom.
We had a lovely Christmas Eve with Grandpa Kamide and Glenn...
A late start to Christmas morning...had to wake the boys up around 11.
And then a lovely Christmas dinner with my dad and my sister and her family. Cousin time!
This time of year - with birthdays, anniversaries, remembrances and celebrations - makes my heart full and puts life into perspective for me. Always a good time to pause, look around at the richness in my life and feel very very blessed. Tis the season...