Holiday Travels – Part 2

This next Christmas celebration was the most difficult to organize. I blame myself a little bit, I should have assumed it would end up like this.

Basically, every year my mother hosts a Christmas dinner and gift unwrapping at her place in Halifax, and every year it lands on December 27th. When I asked her in October when she was thinking of having her celebration, she answered that she still wasn’t sure. Unfortunately, that meant I had to guess which day it would land and ask for that day off because if I waited any longer, I might not be able to get time off at all. I decided to play the flexible card with my boss. I had requested days off before Christmas to see my dad, and I asked for one day off after Christmas, but that I had no preference and that the other girls could have their pick first. I ended up with December 28th. Oh how foolish I was…

Of course, the dinner lands on December 27th, but this was only decided in the month of December, so too little, too late. There was no working around it. We didn’t have any extra staff for that day, and I was unable to switch because the co-worker who had gotten that day off had already made plans to do supper at her mother’s place. Just my luck.

On top of that, I was trying to see if we could make December 28th work, but my brother was working early the next morning so he had to be back in Moncton on the 28th. On top of that, the 28th is my step-niece’s birthday, so all the family in Halifax had already made other plans. To make matters worse, Max coincidentally got news that he would be working on December 28th. All that to say that I was now the only person who was available, so I guess that day is a no go.

To say I was bummed out would be putting it lightly. I found it pretty difficult knowing I would not be able to make it to my mom’s for Christmas this year, that I would be missing out on all our traditions. I won’t deny it – I sulked, probably way more than I should have. I didn’t let it show at work, because it was no one’s fault but my own. Next year, I’ll know better.

On the night of the 26th, I was looking up the weather online while at work. I noticed that it was not giving very nice weather for the following day. I started to wonder… what are the chances my boss would be willing to give me the day off since we surely won’t need full staff for a stormy night like that? The worst she can say is no… And so I sent off a text asking for the day off, explaining that it would be to visit family since I was the only person who had initially been unable to make it. It took a while to get the response, and I was getting pretty anxious. But just before closing, the boss sent a reply saying that if it was alright with the supervisor, it was alright with her! I was fairly certain the supervisor would agree – it had been a little tough trying to keep 3 people busy on slow nights. Trying not to get my hopes up – just in case – I awaited the supervisor’s response.

That was a longer wait, but I eventually got a positive response from the supervisor, thus giving me the OK to go ahead with my plans!

Step 1: Don’t tell mom that I was able to get off work.

Step 2: Choose when to leave.

Step 3: Text my brother to tell him about the plan.

Step 4: Leave early the next morning and surprise my mom in her nightgown, slaving away in the kitchen! (For some people this might seem awkward, but honest to God, it was just hilarious)

You can’t imagine the look on her face when she realized who was walking through the door. It was like a scene from a movie. She had the biggest smile I had seen in such a long time, and it was so genuine. To my boss, it might have meant nothing to give me an extra day off. But to my mom, it meant so much. Ok, I’m tearing up thinking about it. Let’s change the subject.

Happy day, we made it to Halifax to celebrate with all of my mom’s family! We spent most of the afternoon running around and/or helping prep everything for that night.

The first to arrive was my step-brother, although unfortunately all by himself. His girlfriend had had to return to Newfoundland the day before so we had just missed her. Next up was my step-aunt, step-uncle, and my step-nan. (Ok, I’m just gonna drop the word “step” from now on. I think you all get the point…) Not too long afterwards came my sister with her husband and three kids, as well as my other brother, his wife, and their two daughters. What a bunch!

All of a sudden there’s another knock at the door. I was a little confused, since I thought everyone had already arrived. My mom goes to the door to answer and in walks her best friend Bonnie, accompanied by a very handsome man I had yet to meet. I rushed over to give her a big hug! Since my mother hadn’t been sure if I was coming or not, she hadn’t told Bonnie I would be there. And since I had surprise her, she decided to surprise me by not mentioning that Bonnie was coming over!
Introductions were then in order. Max, my brother and I each had the pleasure of meeting Bruce, Bonnie’s dreamy boyfriend. We had heard so much about him – maybe a little too much! – but we had never met him until that day! And what a wonderful man he is. Very caring, with a warm heart and a bright smile.

After some more socializing with the group, my mom rounded us all up and we started digging in. There was so much food, and it was all so delicious – as always! And then, my mom comes out with not one, but TWO desserts! It was mandatory, of course, to have a birthday cake – it was Maggie’s birthday on the 28th after all. The second dessert, however, was not one of her usuals. This time, it was a no bake blueberry cheesecake, and OH MY GOD. It just melted in your mouth… I’m actually drooling right now just thinking about it! OK, next topic!

After we ate until we couldn’t eat anymore, we all sat down in the living room and my mom began passing out all the gifts. I was surprised at how many there were, because we had been told it would be a smaller exchange this year. There were presents for the kids, of course, for me, for Max, for Remi, for my mom & her husband, for the brothers and sisters, and a few even for Nanny Mills. It took quite a while to get everything unwrapped, but we had such a fun time doing it! Lots of wonderful surprises for everyone!

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My mom & her husband opening gifts from the grandkids!
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Nan got a billion pair of slippers!

We are so fortunate to have such thoughtful family members, who gave us amazing gifts, from a waffle maker, to a new set of bed sheets, and a beautiful colander and bowl set!

Can you believe there is still one more Christmas celebration to go?!

Holiday Travels – Part 1

It’s that time of year again – time to try to make all the schedules work so we can visit all our families during the crazy holidays.

It doesn’t help that both Max and I have jobs that do not allow for very much time off because of the time of year. So far, we’ve managed to visit one part of our family – the Bernards’ in Charlo, NB. Unfortunately, it was a quick visit since the time I had taken off was before Christmas, and Max ended up being called in on all three days. We only managed to leave Moncton on the 24th after he did a 5 hour shift. And we needed to be back in Moncton by 4PM today because I had to get back to work.

On the bright side, we had a wonderful time with Max’s family and really made the most of our time there. On the first day, we spent our time in the kitchen helping prep lots of stuff, then lazed around together waiting for supper to be ready. I was also super happy because I was able to Face Time with my dad’s family in Sydney, NS, who were all reunited at my step-brother’s house. My little niece just turned 2 months old today, and she was so adorable, even on a screen!

Another unfortunate moment happened just then – Max’s dad got called in to replace a hot water tank… on Christmas Eve! It was pretty disappointing, but Max did the right thing by going with his dad to help him do the job. Not only did it go much faster since they were two, but he also knew lots of little tricks that were incredibly helpful in reducing wasted time.

When they got home around 7:30, Max said hi to all my family, with whom I was Face Timing, and after watching them unwrap a gift or two we said good night and headed to the dinner table. And what a treat is was! Max’s mom made these amazing diced potatoes with cheese and green onions (with meat for the others, none for me of course) along with a huge Caesar salad for everyone to share.  The others also had ribs – yes, most of you can let yourselves drool, because apparently, they are the bombdigity.

But of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas Eve at the Bernard household without their annual basement jam night. So downstairs we went, and even though every year somebody says “Ok, just a couple songs and then we’ll go to bed,” we all know that’s never going to happen, and it’s always going to end with me passing out on one of the couches because let’s face it, I am not a night owl. It didn’t help that the music was absolutely beautiful, I was completely relaxed.

Then came Christmas Day! As per usual, I was the first one up, but I’m used to it by now. I grabbed my books and my laptop – and of course a super cozy blanket – and started doing some trip planning.

A while later, Max’s parents got up, and then I proceeded to force Max to get out of bed – not an easy task. Then, of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas morning without Max going to wake up his sister by yelling obscenities. (Don’t worry, it was just about tacos this year)

Can you guess what was next?? GIFT TIME! It doesn’t seem to matter how old I get, that excitement always overwhelms me every year right before it’s time to start passing out and unwrapping gifts. To see the look on someone’s face, receiving something they had no idea they were going to get. To capture that shock, that joy, that laughter. That moment.

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God, I love it! And the best part is being able to do this all over again, two more times!