Christmas Stories

In the lead up to Christmas this year, I have been a little subdued about Santa Claus. Woo is five, but he has always been on the fence about Santa. He is certain that the whole magically delivery of presents is impossible, and constantly questions me on the mechanics of how it could work, how Santa fits in the chimney, what happens if there is no chimney, how could he could possibly hand deliver all the parcels to all the houses in just one night… I have been on the fence about lying to the lils about Santa, so I try to keep the story alive while lying as little as possible.

One of the things that I had avoided all together was the NORAD site, which allows you to track Santa’s progress around the world. I thought that it would show Woo just how hard it would be for Santa to cover the distances and go in each house. Then Willy showed him and the opposite happened. He bought in, and the excitement level grew and grew with each update and video he saw. Woo didn’t look for what was feasible; he just enjoyed the magic that they showed and let his anticipation grow. I’m so glad that Willy showed him, as it pushed my little boy firmly into the believer camp for at least one more year.

* * *

Christmas morning was really quite civilized in our house. We had asked Woo to stay upstairs until 7:00am, and he did (to the best of our knowledge)! He snuck into our bed a little after six, let me know that he had peeked from the top of the stairs to see gifts under the tree and then we both fell back to sleep for another thirty minutes. I am not sure how many more years this will happen, but I was happy to have that extra time!

The routine in our house is that we get to open stockings immediately, but wait til after breakfast for the gifts. The lils then take their time and savour the stockings, and we I get a minute to have a coffee before the chaos. Despite the fact that there is no NHL this year, hockey is still a big deal in our house, so their stockings contained a number of packages of hockey trading cards, including an Ottawa Senators pack.

Woo carefully examined his cards, then asked to see Goose’s. When he realized that they were the same, he turned to his sister and happily let her know that “both sets had a Jason Spezza card (her favourite player), so he would not need to give her his Spezza card”. It was so sweet the way he just decided that she would get it, no strings attached!

* * *

Poor Goose got the plague last week. It started with a high fever on Wednesday night, and was joined by a nasty cough and general pathetic-ness on Thursday. I knew that this was a bad one when she voluntarily had a nap at 9:00 am. Three days in a row. She didn’t cry when she found out that she was missing pyjama day at school, never once asked to go outside, basically stopped eating (and lost 2.5kg!!), went through nine boxes of kleenex, and never once fought with her brother; it was serious. I kept thinking that it had to get better, but it wasn’t, so we ended up in a clinic on Christmas Eve. Thankfully it was ruled to be just a bad cold. A really, really bad cold.

We are Christmas Eve wrappers. Last minute all the way in this house! I’ve heard the stories from my mom of all the nights that she and my dad sat up until the wee hours of the night, carefully wrapping gifts, even using the special Santa paper and Santa pen, and how tired she was when the three of us woke them just hours later… I do it at the last minute anyways, but use cloth bags, so it goes MUCH faster. As we sat on the floor in the family room, I listened to poor Goose coughing. That night the cough seemed worse than ever, and she didn’t really settle in to a restful sleep over course of the evening. By the time I went to bed, all I wanted for Christmas was for her to wake feeling better.

She woke still coughing like mad, and it took a good while before she could even sit and open her presents. The coughing got slightly better, but was still bad a lunch time. Then somehow, by dinner time, it stopped. She got that spark back in her eye, was fooling around with her brother and went to bed without coughing once. I felt a weight lift off my chest. My lil girl was on the mend, I’d gotten my Christmas wish.

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Wordless Wednesday – Christmas


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Making cupcakes

I missed wordless Wednesday this week, so here are Wednesday’s pictures with a few Thursday words.

This year marked our second year participating in Cupcakes4Christmas, and initiative that asks Ottawans who love to bake to donate a few dozen cupcakes to the Mission’s annual Christmas Dinner.  We were sad to have missed participating last year while we were living in India, so all were keen to help with the baking.

Goose starts to measure out the flour.

Woo was very careful about ensuring that we had all the right ingredients, and didn’t forget to add anything…

Watching the batter.

This was their favourite step!

The finished product!  They had no interest in helping with icing, surprisingly!  We were lucky enough to have enough extras to give an extra half dozen to the Mission, and have one each to taste!

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Domino effect

Today has been one of those days.  The weather outside was just bad enough to make you worried about getting out and getting things done, my lil boy was home sick with me, and I spent a good part of the day waiting for others to get back to me so that I could do some things that HAD to be done. Being at the mercy of others is one thing, but the not knowing when they would let me get started was driving me NUTS.  And it is my birthday, and my license was officially expired.

By the time that I got out to start my day, it was almost done.  Luckily, I flew through most of the errands, and landed at the MTO with an hour to spare before I got Goose from school.  Upon entering, I looked to see how many people were waiting and grabbed my number.  There were not that many people waiting, yet I was ten or so numbers away.  As I jammed my little slip into my bag, I saw that there were actually two numbers stuck together.  “Oops”, I thought, knowing that there was nothing I could do about it.

After a few minutes, I noticed that the room started to fill up rather quickly. The guy that had sat down beside me looked like he was having a bad day.  He seemed rushed, had forgotten his forms, and was quite fidgety.  I looked at him and asked, “What number do you have?”, then handed him my second number.  He looked at his and noted that the number he had pulled was much higher than the new one in his hands.  He thanked me profusely before turning to the person next to him and said, “What number do you have?” I watched them exchange their little slips, then was called to the counter.  As I walked up, I heard one more exchange of numbers going on.

I know that handing over the first number likely helped the first guy, but actually delayed everyone between us.  I’m ok with that.  It made my day to see that it actually changed his day and helped him, and to see that the others who were waiting repeated the gesture without thinking. Here’s hoping that those who were bumped didn’t notice, or if they did that they didn’t mind.

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Turned off

Today was the day that I tuned it out.  I don’t want to read anything else about what happened in Newtown, Connecticut. I knew enough in the first reports.  I can’t watch to see who was hurt, what lives were lost.  I don’t have the energy to get angry at the coverage, and can’t cope with learning about the lives that were lost.  In my professional life I have seen a lot of horrible things, but this tragedy is that got to me the most.

I’m not going to judge; I am not going to pay attention to how others deal.  Everyone deals with tragedy and horrible news differently, and no one does it the right way or the wrong way.  I am not going to hypothesize as to how this tragedy could have been prevented or point the finger to what social programs would have helped.  The opinions I have are going to be saved for another day.

Instead, I hugged my lils until they pushed me away, and I kept hugging them.  I cried when they weren’t looking, and was thankful that they were young enough to be blissfully unaware, for today.  Instead of the Christmas Advent activity we had planned, I asked for a family hug and kiss under the mistletoe, the activity that I save for days when we are too busy or forget to do our activity.  Then, once they were snug in their beds, I sat with Willy and chilled with a glass of wine and tried to talk of anything but the events of the day.

All that really matters is that the lives of so many were shattered today, and it hurts so much for me, let alone those who lost loved ones.



Wordless Wednesday – Icy rain


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Giving back

Now that we are somewhat settled back home, one of the things that I hope to do more often is contribute to Kids in the Capital, an awesome website for Ottawa families.  The post that I have up there today is on Giving Back at the Holidays. It’s an update of a post that I wrote two years ago, inspired then by some discussions about how to involve really small children in some charitable giving around the holidays.   When I got involved in some similar conversations last month, I figured that it was time for an update.  It was also time for me to look for inspiration for our own family.

This is the third year that our family is following Missfishs twist on an advent calendar, where we do twenty-five days of Christmas-y activities in the month of December.  We have planned for at least one third of the activities to involve a charitable giving component. This year, the lils have asked many more questions than the last two years, and have really started to think about what the giving means.  Like when we were sorting through old snowsuits for The Snowsuit Fund last night, and Woo came across a toque that just fit his head.  He insisted on keeping it, so I asked how many toques he had and he answered that he had about eighteen (the real total is three). So I asked him how many he could wear at once, and if he thought that a boy or girl who didn’t have a hat would like a warm head on cold days.  He thought for a minute, brought it back to the pile and helped me count up the toques to see how many little people could now have warm heads.  He got it.

Many of the activities that we are doing as a family are listed in the post on Kids in the Capital.  Please check it out if you are looking for ideas for your own family.

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Wordless Wednesday – Cookie Monsters

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My favourite

I knew I liked Willy’s Auntie Murie the moment I met her. It actually was one of the worst possible circumstances under which you can meet someone for the first time.  Her husband, Ron, had just passed away, and we were paying our respects.  I know that it is unusual to meet someone at the wake for their spouse, but she knew of me and I knew of her and wanted to let her know that I was sorry.  In the months that followed, we actually got to see a fair bit of Murie.  We were the only Ottawa based relatives, and we wanted to check in on her.  That like became love, and even though I had met few of Willy’s relatives at that point, she quickly became my favourite.

It’s not that Murie became my favourite because the other members of Willy’s family were crazy, mean, or crazy AND mean.  I am blissfully free from most of the stereotypical in-law “qualities” that plague many families.  I really like Willy’s family.  The thing about Murie is that she welcomed me from day one.  I always felt included by her, and that she truly wanted to talk to me, hear about my life and career, and hear my thoughts.  The feeling was mutual, so we always had fabulous visits with her.  I loved to hear her stories; tales of her sisters; her time in England in World War Two, where she met her husband; and her memories of their life together.  We­­­ missed her when she moved to Toronto, and our visits became so rare.

We were not surprised, but still upset to get a call on Sunday afternoon, letting us know that Auntie Murie had passed away that morning.  She was 98 years old, had led a full and exciting life and her health had been deteriorating. We are fortunate enough to have artwork, books and furniture that she gave to us when she moved to Toronto.  It has always made me think of her, and will continue to do so now. Her presence will be missed by all of those in her family, including me.  She was my favourite.

Auntie Murie chatting to her son Jim, the last time I saw her