Thursday, December 26, 2013

Quiet Christmas

For most of my life, we've had a tradition of gathering with my dad's large extended family on Christmas Eve. But then my aunt who hosted these holiday dinners died last year, and now many of my cousins are not speaking to each other. This makes me feel sad, but I know my only choice is to accept it and let go.

So in the last few years, we've been adjusting to a new way of celebrating Christmas Eve...a quieter, more intimate gathering. My sister and her husband alternate coming down south for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and this is the year they stayed home for Christmas. Instead, they will come to Portland tomorrow (December 27), and Mike's mum and sister and our niece and nephew will arrive on the same day from the UK. We will have a delayed Christmas celebration the next day.

So on Christmas Eve itself we opted for a quiet, family dinner at a restaurant--what a novelty! I found it strange to be on our own for Christmas Eve, but we had a nice time.

Chris buried in the first Game of Thrones book while we wait for our table
 
Kieran and Mike at dinner

With my youngest and oldest sons
After dinner we went to church to rehearse music for the candlelight service, at which Chris got to play drums with our talented pianist Jonathan Swanson and acclaimed Portland bassist Andre St. James. This year our small church decided to have two Christmas Eve services, which was necessary but unfortunate because we didn't get to see all of our friends. Last year was the first year we'd ever attended Christmas Eve at our own church, and it was incredibly meaningful for me...the upside of not having a big Christmas Eve extended family dinner. Our dear friends at church are our chosen extended family.

I was feeling a tiny bit blue on Christmas Eve after church but felt better after talking briefly to my sister. Fortunately my brother Stephen and his girlfriend were with us at church and the next day, but I've missed Nadine.

On Christmas morning the kids enjoyed opening their presents.
Opening stockings
Chris got concert tickets, Kieran got a Nook HD tablet (great 1/2 price deal!), and Nick got Indiana Jones Lego (eBay, since they are no longer being issued). I gave Mike tickets to see a tennis exhibition with Andre Agassi (my favorite!), Jim Courier, James Blake, and John McEnroe, and he got me tickets to see Storm Large with the Oregon Symphony on Valentine's Day...so we were big on experiences this year as usual.  
Big brother helped little brother assemble his
 new Indiana Jones Lego after the presents were opened
Then we went to my parents' house for brunch. They had invited members of both of their families, but only a few people showed up. In the end, it turned out okay because we had more time to talk to the people who were there...including my maternal cousin Mike's daughter Jennifer, who I rarely get to see. I forgot to take any photos there though!

Now we are gearing up for the big arrival from England and Puyallup, after which the real Christmas celebrations begin...on the third and fourth days of Christmas!

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