On Christmas Eve, I wrote about how I was feeling ambivalent about Christmas because it was the first year we wouldn't be gathering with my extended family. It's been a challenging year in many ways with the loss of both of our aunts (Barbara and Gena), our pastor and beloved friend has been battling breast cancer, Mike's sister has been having marital problems, my mom and our dear friend Annette have both faced more health problems, and then I've had my own aggressive ear tumor and "leaky brain" to deal with. Many of us are looking forward to 2013! At the same time, I continue to be incredibly thankful for all of the blessings in my life and hopeful that all the health problems will resolve.
In spite of my ambivalence about creating our new Christmas traditions and my concern about how I would hold up through all the festivities, Christmas turned out to be wonderful. We went to our own church for Christmas Eve services, the first time ever (because our family dinner always occurred at the same time), and it was so inspirational and moving! We have a gifted jazz pianist at our church (Jonathan Swanson), and he brought in a friend of his (Andre St. James) to play string bass. Our friend Brad played drums, and Coleen McMahon, who is a singer based out of southern California, led the singing and played piano for the Catholic Eucharist. So the music was fantastic.
|My nephews on Christmas Eve|
Many people were surprised to see me (and a few people lectured me, too!), and the highlight of the service was seeing our pastor, who had her last day of radiation that morning. During the Lutheran communion service (led by another pastor who has graciously filled in for us often over the year), I got to sit next to our pastor, Laurie, which I told her was wonderful and weird! (Usually she is up offering communion.) I found the entire evening to be highly meaningful, and now it's hard to imagine going anywhere else on Christmas Eve. It also made me realize how much I value the community at our church--I feel closer to many of my friends there than I do to my extended family...so I felt totally okay about substituting the service for the extended family Christmas. After church we went to my parents' house for an Indian stew.
|The cousins! (The height difference looks like Gandalf with the hobbits!)|
|With my honey on Christmas Eve|
|Kieran and Nicholas ready to open up stockings and Santa gifts|
The next morning, our kids slept in! Amazing and unheard of! (They did owe us one after they fought in the minivan on the way home from my parents' house on Christmas Eve, which did not help my stress levels!) We had to wake up Chris at 8:30 a.m. to join us for opening of the Santa presents.
|Doing the Christmas morning King Tut dance|
|Santa brought Nicholas a Hogwarts castle|
|Chris and Nicholas starting to put together the castle (brother bonding!)|
|Ryan helped Nicholas finish the Hogwarts castle|
|My brother and his girlfriend Trisha (modeling her new hat and scarf)|
|Opening up his "Book of Mormon" ticket|
Kieran had a theatrical Christmas--he received books of scripts, several DVDs (Oliver, West Side Story, PBS series on Broadway), and three Wii dance and karaoke games...in addition to a lap harp (like a zither).
Nicholas--our toy lover--received mostly toys...Lego, Indiana Jones toys and books, a Lego minifigures sticker book, Batman toys, and an Irish tin whistle.
|With some of his DVDs and games|
|The boys and their bows|
|Bracelet I made for my mom|
|Bracelet for Trisha|
|Bracelet for Nadine|
|Earrings for Nadine|
After we played "Spin the Bottle" and opened all our gifts, we ate a turkey dinner and played some games.
|Trying out the new "Life" game we gave our nephews|
(after we spent 1/2 hour putting it together!)
|My partner Nicholas|
It's hit or miss with resale shops, but we all found some good stuff today! Then we went into Multnomah Village and continued our shopping. Nadine and I both tried on some hats at Topanien (one of my favorite stores, which had a great after-Christmas sale today). Neither of us are hat people. I bought a hat for after my surgery in case my hair didn't cover my scar adequately enough, and I took advantage of it in the hospital when I couldn't wash my hair for almost a week. But for the most part, I do not like the way I look in hats, at all. But we each found a hat we liked, and we talked each other into buying them!
|My new hat--with beaded flower on it|
|My beautiful sister in her hat|
|With my sis|
I am definitely getting better, but I still have a ways to go. I get worn out when I'm around a lot of people for awhile, and I'm sensitive to noise. I'm starting to taper off on my pain meds today..have been taking 15 mg of oxycodone every 5 hours, and am cutting back to 10 mg over the next few days. So far it's going okay. I see my neurosurgeon on Friday for my first post-op checkup, and I'll see my ear surgeon in early January. I'm so glad I've felt well enough to enjoy Christmas!
|With my wonderful mom, who did not buy a hat!|