The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT

Christmas Sucked!! I Want A Do-Over, Except I’m Too Tired.

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Yeah, bah humbug to me, but  that’s the way I feel. This year my heart just wasn’t in it. Oh, I was at first, but then it went downhill right after the girls, Nat and myself decided not to exchange gifts. The girls were willing to buy for the two of us, but we felt that would have been a bit one-sided. We were asked by the two of them to concentrate our extra dollars on the grandkids. The two girls couldn’t come up with anything they wanted and it was therefore decided that all four of us would not buy for each other. I truly felt the idea was a good one at the time. We’d save a little bit of running around and maybe a few extra dollars, as would the girls. One was struggling financially because of her personal situation and the other has always insisted that we concentrate on her children rather than herself and her hubby. Of course, we ignored those requests over the years, until now. This year, however, we all made a joint adult decision, which much to my selfishness I regretted deep in my heart but my adult head knew it was the mature thing to do.

I may be close to having my 62nd birthday, but in my heart of hearts I still get excited Christmas morning. Without fail, I’ve been up with the birds every December 25th for as long as I can remember – even when myself, a sister and my brother spent a Christmas away from home while living in Edmonton. Our parents had shipped all of our presents to us and those packages sat under our little tree that was decorated with strung popcorn, a few ornaments and some tinsel. The three of us had a great time despite our loneliness and a phone call from home was the icing on the cake. With each passing year I thought I would grow out of this immaturity and accept Christmas like the grown-up I was suppose to. This year it came back to bite me and in spades. As selfish as it sounds, I still like to unwrap a gift or two – even if I know what’s inside. It somehow affirms that someone thought about you at one point, even if they did just decide what item on your list to get!!

I’m also a person who loves to wrap gifts. Not to brag but I’ve become pretty good at it and have wrapped presents for a couple of my sisters who don’t have the time nor the inkling to do so. I was overjoyed and loved every minute of it – despite the fact that it can be very tiring. The end results were worth every ache and pain that slowly crept into these old bones. This year I was only able to wrap around 8 gifts and half of those were done in gift bigs – of which I abhor!!! Yes, I know they’re useful, easy and a great time-saver – but I’m a purist and want to hear the tear of paper as it’s ripped from the sides of the box contained therein. I love to see big bows, colourful ribbons and little doo-dads atop a parcel, along with pretty little labels that say from us to you, with love. But yes, I truly understand why some people use the bags and not everyone can be a lover of wrapping parcels.

Waking up Christmas morning this year felt like any other day to me. There wasn’t going to be any “Christmas morning” for either of us. Instead, we were up early to go to each of the girls’ homes to watch our grandchildren open their gifts from us and all the while I felt as it I was going to their birthdays. All four grandkids were thankful for what they received and the requisite hugs were given, but by that point I was ready to go home, rip down the tree, put the decorations back into storage and just get on with the rest of the year. Somehow I made it through the day and once home, Nat and I had a nice quiet afternoon and sat in front of the fire with our grilled cheese sandwiches and french fries for supper. As Nat and I didn’t exchange gifts either, we agreed to buy an Apple TV for ourselves. That was about the only thing on my ‘Wish List’ I thought the two of us could use and after explaining all of its wondrous virtues, he agreed. I ordered it online from the Apple store and when it arrived a week before Christmas we left the FedEx box under the tree. It wasn’t until we had finished our meal that I decided to open up that little box and take a look at the instruction book. What the hell, I knew it was easy to set up but it gave me something to do while watching nothing on television.

With the arrival of Boxing Day and my side of the family coming for dinner, Nat and I were kept busy getting ready for the festivities. This was going to be the day, I told myself, that my spirits would perk up and I’d feel much better. Not seeing my sisters often enough since moving to Ridgeway, I knew the evening would be filled with laughter, stories and enough activities to keep my mind off how I was feeling. The table had been set a few days before as a time-saver, Nat put the turkey in the oven that morning, I pre-made the stuffing and popped it into the slow-cooker ready to be turned on. We were ready and good to go until our guests arrived.

With time to relax before our guests arrived we felt things were going pretty good, but something went horribly wrong after that. As Nat carved the turkey we discovered it was over-done. Apparently the battery in the meat thermometer decided to run low during the cooking process. We kept wondering why the bird was taking so long and once discovered what had happened, it was too late. The breast meat fell apart in Nat’s hands as he was trying to carve. We thought at this point the gravy would moisten things up, but as luck would have it, Nat had a hard time trying to thicken it up. I’m thinking we made too much and it was going to take a long time, but by now it was too late – our guests were arriving. – and the gravy was going to flow like coloured water!! I’m now thinking my family was lucky they contributed dishes to the meal – at least they’d have something to enjoy! One guarantee in the whole process was dessert – with Claudia’s cake, Gail’s pies, Thamazine’s tray of delectables and my cookies there was at least goodies to look forward to afterwards. I know it was my fault, but I honestly can’t remember eating my meal.

Somehow we made it through and despite how I felt about the meal, the company was wonderful. As mentioned, there were lots of laughs, a good game and some good conversation. In my heart of hearts I know it’s not about the meal, it’s about family (who were all crammed into our little dining room like sardines in a can, with overflow in the kitchen), and I for one have great family and lots of love around me. My body, however, wasn’t listening to anything my heart told it. The bones were tired, the brain was dead and the arthritis in my hip decided it was time to rear its ugly little head. I was tired, a bit depressed about how I was feeling and just wanted the whole affair to end. Maybe a good night’s sleep would help. It didn’t!!

With a couple of nice highlights – a few gifts from some wonderful family members (the chocolate bark from the Irwins, the beautiful ornament and goodies from Gail and Bonnie, the gorgeous little cake from Claudia and the bottle of wine from Liz) this whole affair is over and I’m looking forward to 2011. Always trying to look on the positive side of life I’m going to try my damndest in 2011 to keep my mouth shut, my heart in a warm place and my brain out of the clouds!! Happy New Year, everyone.

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Author: Twila

Born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Canada, with 5 sisters and a brother. Now retired, my husband and I travel, play golf and am slowly renovating our new (old) home. After my kidney transplant in 1999, we've learned to enjoy life to the fullest. Nat and I have driven across Canada, taken an Alaskan cruise and drove home via the Northern United States. We've also been to Mexico, the Caribbean, the East Coast of Canada and Cape Breton. We've done the "Snowbird" thing, having lived in Destin, Florida for a couple of months of the year. In 2007 we changed our travel plans in order to move into and renovate our new "old" home, but hope to someday get back on the road again. We also love returning to Scotland (Nat's origin of birth) to visit his family and tour the Highlands and surrounding Isles.

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