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Dear Diary – Thursday evening I received a text from the School Board: Schools were closed on Friday due to the storm. Schools never close in the city. Buses are cancelled but, like the postman, any student within “walking distance” is expected to attend in wind, sleet, snow or hail! For both kids, walking distance has always been 20 minutes or more. It always seemed terribly fair that while my kids were expected to slog through knee-deep snow while the north wind peels their face off, the bus kids get to sleep until noon in cozy beds. I walked to school; it was the same for me.

The last I had heard, snow and possibly some freezing rain were coming our way. Crappy for being out in, but we live in Canada, and “crappy” is always synonymous with winter. I decided just to be thankful for the blessing of no class, and keep motoring on. Christmas was just around the corner and I had a chocolate swiss roll to bake for Hubby’s birthday.

Thursday evening, Youngest Son and I had rehearsal for the Christmas Eve service. He was being trained on camera and lights and I was singing Christmas carols. It was raining when we left home…and still raining when we started home. We were both in good spirits and feeling nibbly so I swung into the closest Tim’s to home. The driveway was blocked by cones but the lights were on and someone was inside. We sloshed through the icy water and rain to the front door, but the door was locked. I could see one employee inside, dumping honey dip doughnuts in the bin. “Noooo” I whimpered, but it was too late. Dejectedly we drove to the Shopper’s next door for chocolate.

It was not the same.

Dear Diary – It wasn’t a lot of snow but the wind made it appear so as it tossed and twisted it in every direction for hours. Hubby tried to clear the driveway at one point, but for every shovelful removed, he received three more in the face. I was very thankful I didn’t have to go out in it. I wonder how Santa feels about snow?

Dear Diary – We made it to Christmas Eve! It was bitter cold and the wind was still blowing pretty good, but the sun was shining. I spent the morning washing dishes, cooking potatoes for champ, and getting ready for the Christmas Eve service. Mom called in the morning to wish Hubby a happy birthday and to let me know that their area was in a state of emergency. Roads were closed including over 1,000 km of the main provincial highway. They even closed…the Malls!

It was unlikely there were going to make it to my house on Sunday.

We went for an Irish lunch at my brother-in-law’s place, minus my father-in-law who had decided to stay home before the first flake fell. And after a short visit, we headed to the church to prepare for the Christmas Eve service. The service was beautiful, and I had a first rate seat. As we sang the final carol, Silent Night, I watched flames light up, row by row, in the sanctuary (attached to candles. No one was torching the sanctuary), and all the stress of the last few weeks melted away.

It was snowing lightly when we left, the roads still partially covered where it continued to drift. We passed a few cars in a ditch. Someone was not having a peaceful night.

We had spaghetti and chocolate swiss roll birthday cake with homemade strawberry-cranberry jam for dinner. But not at the same time.

I talked to Mom again. They definitely weren’t coming on Sunday. I was disappointed but I would rather Christmas be postponed than something happen and I would grieve forever.

I talked to Eldest Son too. He only made it part-way to his girlfriend’s and got stuck in a drift. A tow truck driver got him unstuck, and later witnessed Eldest Son spinning out in a glorious display, like a rumba dancer, as he headed home, alone.

I went to bed missing some of my favourite people. I no longer cared about home-baked treats and a pretty table. I just wanted to be together.

I wonder if Mary missed her Mom too.

Dear Diary – It started out not feeling like Christmas. I didn’t know if Eldest Son was going to make it. Or his girlfriend and her sister. Or even my folks and Auntie M.

It was no longer snowing here. We slept in. I put on my plaid dress and soldiered on with my dinner plans.

I talked to Mom and found out they were going to “rescue” Auntie M and have their own celebration and Eldest Son arrived around lunchtime.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Soon the bells will start
And the thing that will make them ring
Is the carol that you sing right within your heart

Meredith Willson

We opened gifts. We basted the turkey and started the stuffing. We dished out pickles and 2 kinds of cranberry sauce. And we waited for Eldest Son’s girlfriend to arrive for dinner. We feasted and curled up in the candlelight to watch a movie. And I went to bed with anticipation. The rest of my family was going to make a break for it and try to come in the morning.

Dear Diary – All is calm. All is bright. Mom, Dad and Auntie M arrived for brunch on Boxing Day, and what a brunch: bagels and cream cheese, crackers and cheese, veggies and dip, mini quiche, homemade doughnuts, cookies and cake! I won’t ever need to eat again.

Dear Diary – I ate again. We did a re-run of the big turkey dinner. And with everyone’s help, dishes were soon washed and put away. Especially those dishes that are used only every 10 years. We opened gifts and played games, and swapped stories of Christmases past. Eldest Son’s girlfriend headed home, and soon after we all kissed good-night.

Dear Diary – I’m so thankful I had accidentally thawed all that meat and was forced to make soup, because that’s what we had for lunch. It was our final hurrah before Mom, Dad and Auntie M headed home. I have plans to join them in a few days. Then we connected with my father-in-law, who managed to dig out and head this way.

No one starved. The toilet didn’t give out until after everyone was gone. And my biggest take-away? I’m not ready to be in charge of the Christmas celebrations.

After years of travelling with kids and guinea pigs, I sometimes wondered what Christmas would look like at home. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older, and the kids are too, but Christmas has lost some of its magic. Seeing how much work goes into organizing the meals (I had 5 lists to keep me organized) and other assorted items (like t.p.), I much more understand and greatly appreciate all my Mom has undertaken year after year, to keep it magical. From the decorations to the pretty table, from the pickles to the turkey, it’s a stinking lot of work!!

The most magical part of all was being together. Once we were under the same roof, everything was alright.

How many of us, I wonder, can recall that childhood moment when we experienced happiness as a state of being. That single moment of untarnished joy. That moment when everything in our world, inside and out, was alright. Everything was alright. And then we became adults…

Professor Coreman, Hector and the Search for Happiness

Dear Diary – I just heard. There will be no Christmas next year. Santa got arrested on Christmas Eve.

Dear Diary – I’ll see you on the other side!

I’m heading to my folks for New Year’s Eve with Youngest Son. It’s possible Eldest Son will be coming too. Right now, he’s torn about where to spend New Year’s Eve. I told him we’ll take him whatever he decides, but it is one of the first big Eve’s he’s had a girl to kiss at midnight, instead of his ol’ ma! 😉

Welcome change, embrace adventure and make this new year one you’ll never forget!