What an absolutely lovely vacation! I'm so grateful for all the kindness and generosity that our extended family members have shown toward my little (or not so little) family. We had a quiet Christmas day, which is how I like it best. Nowhere to go, nowhere to be, nothing to cook, no reason to dress up, no deadlines, no rush to clean up because we were at our home, not anyone elses. Just enjoying the kids and the hubby and just being together. I enjoyed their smiles and their kindness to one another. I remembered all the Christmases past. . . of my own childhood. . . of the past Christmases that I've had with my own kids. Every year I try to make at least one improvement to contribute to next year's Christmas. This last Christmas I really chilled out and didn't try to "make" anything for any of the kids. Previous years I've made quilts, dresses, crocheted scarves and hats, painted car mats, etc. This year I did nothing. Well, I did mend Jonathan's jeans slightly and I did make Atticus a pair of pajama pants but I wouldn't say they really took that long. They didn't stress me out. That's the whole point. To de-stress Mom. For next year I will prepare a nice Christmas Eve dinner and do a nice table setting but I will leave Christmas day with food that has already been prepared. Doing too many dishes on Christmas detracts from what really counts. I just want to see my kids faces, snuggle with Jonathan on the couch, and have my kids want to help me set the table instead of having them too excited about their presents to even come near me in the kitchen.
The rest of our vacation we spent either on the road to Utah in the van or hotel or in Utah. We had many adventures and many great things happened to our family that I will always remember. On Christmas night we drove into Las Vegas and went straight for the MGM Grand where our reservations were. There was a problem with the reservation we made on Priceline (will never use them again) and so the kind lady who helped us managed to let us have one of their nice suites at no extra charge for us. That sounded good to us. What a generous act on Christmas day. Of course, we probably looked dismal to everyone around us. Helen was crying. We all looked tired from the drive. The kids were sprawled out on the vast marble floors of the reception area. The management probably just wanted to get us out of sight as soon as they could. On our way up to the suite one of the kids asked something about what kind of "sweets" we would be getting. Well, when we opened the door to the suite the kids were impressed and we adults, cuz we had Sunny (a friend from LA) with us, were amazed by our good fortune. I was just so grateful for that nice lady at the front desk. The suite was bigger than our apartment in LA. It had four huge flat screen TV's spaced throughout the suite, plenty of couches and comfy chairs, two large bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large dining room table with additional chairs, and great views all around. What a relief after being in the van with everyone for half the day. We really enjoyed that time. I'd never stayed in such a nice hotel room in my life except for the Four Seasons in Doha.
Once we got to Utah I got out my pen and started checking my to-do list. Jonathan and I had prepared a list of things we needed to do while we were there and believe it or not, we accomplished every last one of those tasks. I felt so happy. We took the kids skiing twice. We went snowshoeing twice. That was something I wish I'd tried sooner. Why didn't anyone tell me it was worth it? Helloooooo? All those years living in Utah, feeling that cabin fever, feeling like there was nowhere to go and nothing to see, and all this time I could've strapped on some snowshoes and gone up those mountains just like any other time of year. Well, snowshoeing is definitely something I'll be doing every winter if it's snowy. We got to see a good amount of family. The kids got a good dose of cousin time. We even got the added bonus of attending one of my nieces baptisms. And to top it all off, one of my sister-in-laws is pregnant. What a darling! She knew I wasn't having any more kids so she went ahead and is having one so my little Helen won't be such a spoiled brat being the youngest at future family gatherings.