The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT

Please, Santa, Leave Me In Peace!

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It’s that time of year again, oh goody!!

Not to be humbuggery about it, I use to absolutely love Christmas and the holidays, but as I’ve gotten older it’s become more of a chore and just another same-old-same-old day.

Coming from a family of 7, naturally, my memories are of Christmas mornings getting out of bed before the crack of dawn, opening up stockings filled with little things to do as we anxiously await Dad and Mom to get up, finish his morning coffee (always seemed like an eternity) and then opening our gifts so fast Mom and Dad had a hard time watching all of us at once to see our reactions. Paper was strewn everywhere, as each girl always received a doll and dear brother some sort of truck or tractor. We would each receive a new pair of pajamas and slippers, plus some piece of clothing that Mom thought was necessary. Our grandmother, too, would help out at times by sewing a dress or skirt for us girls for school. Believe it or not, as Grandmothers go, she was pretty damn good and if I recall correctly there was never anything I wore of hers that was bad.

After the frivolity in the living room, we kids were given time to settle in and play with our toys while Mom was busy cooking our turkey supper. There were so many mornings later in life, as the family grew, that we could always smell that bird cooking as we lay in our beds. God, it was enough to drive you crazy all morning and all afternoon. We’re talking a bloody big bird for those times!! In our very early years, we would always go to Grandma’s for supper, along with all of our Aunts, Uncles and cousins from far away – Toronto, London and North Bay.

My Christmas memories are all good until now. As the grandkids grew up and now have jobs or are in college, there’s not a lot we can get them. We have no idea anymore what they may be into or what their interests are, as we don’t see them on a regular basis. Birthdays are even beginning to fade away. We almost have to make appointments if we want to see them at all. I suppose that’s something in life grandparents just have to get use to.

For as many years, Nat’s daughters have told us not to buy them anything, but to concentrate our efforts on their children. As Nat and I have never really wanted for anything either, and as money is always tight for the girls, we’ve told them not to reciprocate, and I kind of think they’re both grateful for that. It saves them money and doing something nice once a year for their Dad (she says sarcastically!). Selfishness is easier to do than being nice and caring about others beyond the 4 walls of their homes.

So as things stand now, we go to Laura’s home Christmas Eve to deliver our money envelopes, have a visit, eat pizza with her and her two children, along with Susan, Tom and their two girls. After everyone leaves, Laura and her kids will open their presents from each other, before the kids head off to their father’s place to celebrate Christmas morning with him and his girlfriend and her family. My side of the family have a Christmas Eve get-together with lots of goody dessert items and exchange any gifts from the Aunts to their nieces and nephews. I guess I’m not missing much except an extra little family time (something I can never get enough of). Nat and I will then drive home, shake our heads as to what is going on in his daughters’ lives and say to each other “what on earth are they thinking” , watch a little TV and then head off to bed. We both feel as if we were invited to listen to their personal troubles, financial woes or what reality show is the hit of the month.

Christmas morning we get up, get dressed, have breakfast (Nat his cereal and me, my pills). We’ll sit until it’s time for us to drive to Susan’s Christmas morning – she always tells us what time to arrive. We’ll watch Susan as she’s scrambling about the house cleaning up from their bacon-on-a-bun breakfast and the girls show us what Santa brought them. Another time where everyone is saying “look what fun we’re having and you’re not!”. We’ll chit chat back and forth and then toddle off home to sit for another hour or two after lunch and then make our contributing dish for my side’s family dinner (mashed potatoes) later that evening. This is the only part of Christmas that I’m now enjoying – a get to-gether and a great meal with my sisters. (Dear brother lives too far away).

Being a grandparent, at least for me, is just bloody boring. I get no fun time with my granddaughters, they’ve got their own lives now and have nothing in common with this old gal. I accept that, but I’m entitled to feel the way I do – I’m not an “old fart” in my mind and would love to do more things with the kids, but I know that’s never going to happen. Yes, I could go shopping with some of them, but that involves schedule planning like you wouldn’t believe. They’re working hours are ungodly as they’re working every second of the day to earn money for college tuition. Plus one granddaughter has a life/boyfriend/house of her own now. Even I understand that one!!

I wake up each day in December dreading what’s to come. I can’t be bothered anymore as no one can be bothered with Nat and I. None of the family will come over to our house – no time, no time, no time! None of us exchange gifts anymore, despite the fact I would love to buy something for them no matter what. The grandkids only want money. The step-daughters can’t be bothered and one son-in-law just wants to stay home and watch football.

It’s also that time of year, even though I’m taking pills for my depression, that I still get depressed. It started last night. Nat and I had a bit of a discussion about me wanting an iPod Touch. He couldn’t understand, as I already had an iPad Mini (with battery starting to go). He told me to just order a new iPad Minfor myself for Christmas. Whooo Hoooo – where’s the fun in that? No surprises here!! It’s just not the same, is it?? I’m a firm believer that everyone loves an unexpected surprise now and again. We all know that Christmas is the perfect time for surprises and family. Naturally, I took our little discussion to bed and the old mind started to light up with every little thing I was regretting, missed or couldn’t have.

I fight my annual Christmas depression as best I can – I pop an extra pill – and try to get on with the month as if it was just another one in the year. I know Nat feels excluded too, from his girls sometimes around this time of year but understands there is nothing we can do about it.

So, Santa, if you could just leave me in peace, I’d be a happy camper. Let me sleep in on December 25th as if it were just another day in time. Gee, what am I saying, I can sleep in, ’cause it’s just another day. Christmas pasts are gone forever never to return. So grow up, old girl, get on with your life and tell Santa he can bugger off!!

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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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