The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT

Oh, What A Difference This Time!

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Around Wednesday the 21st I had finished wrapping all of Thamazine’s gifts and had a lot of fun doing it. Having finished a few days early, we met up again at Future Shop in Niagara Falls so she could get her in-law gifts to them prior to Christmas. With nothing else to do that day, Nat and I decided to stay an extra few minutes and walk around the Square which was kind of useless. With no one around and really nothing new in the shops we wandered around aimlessly and gave up. I did, however, find a couple of sweatshirts on sale (2 for the price of 1) which would replace a couple of now tattered ones.

As Christmas Eve was approaching, Nat and I had to keep telling ourselves that we were going out that evening. Another one of those years where it seems like just another Saturday and our usual routine was taking place. It was just as well we were going out as there was no hockey on that night and poor hubby would have been bored out of his mind. So why not visit with some of my family, eat a little, drink a little and laugh a lot. This year Claudia was hosting Christmas Eve and Thamazine was doing Christmas supper. Arriving at Claudia’s a little early we were able to have a nice quiet chat with her, Darby and Tyler before the rest of the gang arrived and the quiet would soon be replaced with two youngsters running around (excited about the next morning!), and adults meandering in and out of the kitchen, living room and family room. Who could blame them – with candy dishes sitting in every little nook and cranny, we all wandered around as much as we could with big hands dipping in every bowl containing coloured confectionaries that tingled the taste buds. Soon it was time for the buffet of beef-on-a-bun, salads, roast chicken, and desserts of cookies, squares and cakes. Every child’s dream – a house full of chocolates, sugar-coated treats, gum drops, jelly beans, Hershey Kisses, ribbon candy and so much more the old brain can’t remember them all! I always admire Claudia and how she can accomplish so much and still be sane!

With our usual excuse “We’ve got a ways to drive”, Nat and I headed home and snuggled in our easy chairs by 10:30 pm. I’m yawning so I decided to hit the hay, leaving Nat looking for something to watch on telly and amuse himself until he can meander off to bed. We both awoke early as we were scheduled to be at Laura’s place for 9:00 AM. She had her two kids for Christmas week and was hosting Christmas morning for herself, Karly, Lucas, her ex-mother-in-law, her ex-hubby and Zoe (her dog). We arrived just as the excitement was winding down from everyone unwrapping their gifts, so we handed to the kids ours’ and soon began to join in the conversation and visit with Marilyn and Shawn, both of whom we haven’t seen in quite sometime. Each of Karly and Lucas showed off some of their presents and both seemed happy with what Santa had brought them. We left Laura’s as it was getting close to noon, drove home for a bite to eat and then headed off to Thorold to visit with Susan, Tom, Felicia and Bridget before leaving for Thamazine’s for supper.

We arrived at Susan and Tom’s just after 1:00 and the girls were snuggled on the sofa playing with their new teen-age toys and gadgets. The Dagenais family looked as if they had a very happy Christmas and again, after giving the girls their gifts, we soon joined in the conversation and had a chance to get caught up on family news and activities. Another nice visit and we were off again.

Thamazine’s place smelled wonderful as we walked in the door. The aroma of turkey and all the trimmings emanating from the kitchen was a killer. I was full blown hungry by now and as Daryl said he was brining the turkey, I, myself, couldn’t wait to bite into that juicy bird. As usual we were the first to arrive and more quiet time to visit with the family before the balance of the other families arrived. Zach had arranged a ping-pong tournament for later and was all excited, being the sports lover that he is. He was organized like the pros. Zoe was primping and preening in her bedroom putting on the final touches for her guests. She’s growing up so fast and has somehow turned into an early teenager much before her time (only 10). Not long after our arrival the rest of the gang started to appear and meandered downstairs to where we were and had a seat before being called to supper. It was fun listening to what everyone had received from Santa and watching their eyebrows squint as they tried to remember. It sounded like each and everyone had a great morning and was thrilled with their presents, too.

The meal was gorgeous. Daryl’s brining the turkey was a success and with mashed potatoes, gravy, veggies and stuffing, we were all enjoying a great dinner with fun conversation and a few laughs. The meal was so good I just had to go back for seconds, which isn’t what I’ve being doing of late. For the longest time Nat nor I have been able to eat big meals and we’ve been practising restraint in portion sizes. Nat and I weren’t going to have any leftovers, so I made the best of things and enjoyed as much as I could. Dessert came a little too soon after the main meal and I was only able to enjoy a small piece of cake, albeit a great tasting small piece of cake!

Soon after the meal the ping pong tournament was announced. I was informed Darby and I were up first and Zach led us into the small playroom, shut the door and soon began explaining the rules. This guy was serious! He had done his research and with his new laptop at hand he was ready to play a professional game – or so he thought. He didn’t realize or understand what the “Rouse” girls were like – a lot older, a little less mobile, and really slow in the old foot work! Darby and I were now ready to play. With Darby still young, springier and so much lighter on her feet, it was soon becoming apparent who was going to win this match. It wasn’t for lack of trying on my part, but for some reason the old “hand-to-eye” co-ordination had gone down the drain. I use to be pretty good at this game!! What the hell happened?? I couldn’t even get a good volley going and poor Darby was waiting at her end of the table as I struggled to even find the ping pong when it bounced around the floor as my paddle went swinging right by it. The final score was 15-2 (Darby) and at last I could go back to my easy chair in the family room, join the other older adults in chit chat and listen at the closed door for the other ping pong matches that were taking place. With roars of laughter coming from the playroom it was clear that everyone else was having the same trouble I was. It was apparent that the younger set had the advantage, but the whole game itself was fun and everyone had a great time. The huffing and puffing from the older adults as they finished their game was funny and yet sad. Each one of us had forgotten that ping pong was a fast-paced game if you wanted it to be, and the younger set was certainly making it that way. Zach had truly arranged a “pro-like” game despite having a major handicap – old Aunts!!

Our “We’ve got a ways to go” was soon coming from our lips again, so we said our goodbyes and headed home. We were getting tired, had had a great time and were now ready for those easy chairs at home. Another year of good food, great fun and loving family. Compared to last year’s Christmas with my miserable mood and emotional crisis in tow, this year was so much better. It felt good to be relaxed, somewhat carefree and being able to just let it go. I was able to enjoy myself, had only one small excitable moment which I soon took care of and didn’t let anyone “get to me” – even though I was tempted once or twice. “Take a deep breath” is now the phrase lit up in neon inside the old brain and so far, it’s working!

Boxing Day saw Nat and I literally doing nothing. We laid around the house with Nat doing his crosswords, me playing games on the iPad or Mac, and deciding what to have for supper after last night’s feast. It was nice. I even pulled out a jigsaw puzzle I had picked up for myself at Costco and began enjoying something I’ve not done for a long time. When I’m finished I’ll send it along to my sister-in-law in England – another jigsaw puzzle fancier.

The rest of this week has been quiet. We’ve done a couple of errands – license plate sticker for the van, some printer paper and getting frustrated as hell with the internet cutting in and out. Can’t wait for the new Airport Express to arrive. If that’s not the problem, then I’m a monkey’s uncle and will be totally out of mind as to what the real problem is. We can only continue to keep our fingers and toes crossed and believe that January 2012 is going to begin on a good note!!

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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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