Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘gift exchange

Isolated Festively

leave a comment »

Over a holiday weekend that historically would have us venturing sixty-some miles to the west three times in two days to mingle and nosh with Cyndie’s relations, the Christmas of 2020 in all its pandemic isolation reduced our travels to one time to exchange gifts at her mom’s house. Distanced, masked, and without risking a shared meal, our children met us at Marie’s house in Edina on Christmas eve day for the briefest of gift exchanges.

Little did we realize before setting out in the moments after our township road had finally been plowed around 11:00 a.m., we were in for some of the riskiest driving we’d experienced in recent memory. From local roads to the interstate highways, the surface was frozen and slippery. Almost every mile, sometimes more frequently, we spotted vehicles buried in the ditch.

Approaching a speed that would require the use of brakes in order to slow down was taking chances that threatened an unwelcome hell of post-storm autobody appointments, not to mention bumps and bruises, or worse.

Every overhead message board flashed warnings of crash delays ahead. As we waited in one backup, a full-size fire engine forced its way ahead and crossed all lanes to block the two left-most. We crawled ahead to where the sight of a big rig was perched on the cement barrier dividing east and westbound traffic, front tires high off the ground.

Later, another backup wrapped around a helpless pickup in a center lane, lacking enough traction to make any progress up the slight incline.

Cyndie’s expertly cautious driving got us there and back without incident.

Back home with presents in hand, we settled in for three days of isolation that Cyndie masterfully enhanced with wonderfully festive meals and activities, while simultaneously continuing to practice post-surgery regiments for her knee.

We ate like royalty and dined on some of her family holiday classics. Beef tenderloin with horseradish sauce, marinated carrots, out-of-this-world skin-on mashed red potatoes, and dessert of unparalleled greatness, cranberry cake with butter-caramel sauce.

We sat around the fireplace and worked on a new jigsaw puzzle from Marie that depicted chickens that looked just like ours. Cyndie poured herself into new books and I spent renewed time in my world-wide online community, catching up on reading and writing there.

A text-chain of family members helped us to stay connected, but there was no getting around the fact we were home alone together at one of the most family-gathering times of the year.

Somehow, maybe due to an urge to make it feel anything but just another day at home, Cyndie took interest in assembling the jigsaw puzzle with me, something in which she usually finds no pleasure. I chose to match her change in routine by deciding to skip building the outer border first, a step that moved me entirely out of my otherwise rigid norm.

We had a blast with the task, each finding great pleasure in the shared experience.

Quite simply, it helped to make the entire weekend feel downright festive, isolation be damned.

.

.

Much Joy

leave a comment »

It all builds up to this. Apparently, there was a lot more “nice” than there was “naughty” in the family this year. Santa’s elves surely worked overtime to supply all the goods for the gift exchanges witnessed yesterday at the Edina house, though this was just a fraction of the joy. There was also laughter and mirth along with some good-natured ribbing and exceptional feasting shared by all.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Most precious of all was the time with family. Time to just be together really is priceless. Puts the material goods at a distant second in terms of value for the holiday.

Delilah did wonderfully in her first-ever visit to the location, which was very important to us. It allowed us to maximize our minutes with the fam this year.

I chose to bring her home after dinner last night, but Cyndie stayed for one more overnight. In the moments after I got home with the pooch, I managed to lock myself out of the house with Delilah inside. Luckily, we have a lockbox with key for just such occasions.

Getting back inside and settling in at home brought almost as much joy as the Christmas celebrations that preceded our return.

One of the most overlooked great things about Christmas is the point when it is finally over and life can return to the usual daily grind.

I hope that doesn’t sound ungrateful, but even a very good thing can get to be a little too much. We have been blessed with a lot of very good things. Now I’m ready to be blessed with a return to our usual normalcy.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

December 26, 2019 at 7:00 am

So Christmassy!

leave a comment »

Christmas morning with Cyndie’s family is all breakfast and presents, on a grand scale, both. After getting lavishly fed, we headed downstairs to find 23 people’s-worth of presents around the tree.

It doesn’t take too long for Santa’s little helpers to distribute the packages around the room.

Then begins a cacophony of ripping paper, saving bows, exclamations of surprise/love/and delight, and many voices talking all at once.

As quickly as possible after everything was opened, I needed to slip out for a return trip to the ranch, where Delilah was patiently awaiting some attention. She was very grateful to have a chance to get outside to do her business. I granted her as much time and freedom as possible, trying to make up for the many hours she has been left alone in the last few days.

She seemed to think it made for good opportunity to hunt critters that live in the grass beneath the snow.

“Wha-aat?” she says after we get back inside. “I’m a good girl!”

After I got her fed, and darkness moved the chickens into the coop, it was time for my second drive of the day to Edina.

The Christmas feast which included salmon and beef tenderloin, easily justified the added driving.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Cyndie stayed at her parent’s house overnight Monday and all day yesterday to help with preparations.

Christmas 2018 was definitely a day that felt wonderfully Christmassy in our family! The added blessings of having Norwegian relatives joining in the festivities was icing on our cake.

.

 

Written by johnwhays

December 26, 2018 at 7:00 am