I started working on this post on Monday. Since some things have temporal relevance - especially when we're addressing all the accoutrements of the new year - here's a slightly older post for later reflection:
I feel today like I'm coming out of a fog. The sugar induced headache I've had for two days is clearing as the Christmas ornaments come off the tree. Over the past week, we have hosted my in-laws for their first introduction to Baby N and Christmas celebrations. They arrived last Monday, and as the week progressed, I slowly surrendered my house to my out of town guests and a return - to some extent - to the rhythm of my husband's childhood.
This involved reestablishing roles for parents and son. Hub's mom took over, in that way expected and endeared by her husband and three sons, and quickly set up the menu of Chinese-American delights to be enjoyed over the week. Next, she organized a shopping party to obtain the necessary ingredients. In line at the grocery store, she engaged her trademark personable manner to learn that the Kokanee Salmon were running and that Bald Eagles could be viewed at the lake. That became our activity for the day following Christmas. Walking every day in 20 degree weather also became a necessary routine while the kitchen bubbled with sticky rice, won ton soup and an apple pie baked in a paper bag. I searched long and hard for that bag. We're a plastic only, except for the rare occasion we remember recyclables, family.
I experienced a moment of sharp home sicknesses on Christmas Eve while flipping through my recipes to find my recipe for croissant bread pudding. Behind the "holidays" tab, I happened upon my dad's recipe for Manhattan clam chowder, a dreamy tomato based soup with shrimp that I have enjoyed every Christmas Eve since, well, forever. Of course, the soup was only one of many things missing from the day, so I hunkered down and got to making my bread pudding and just for kicks, my mom's cardamom cake. By the end of Christmas, my kitchen island looked like a regular wake buffet. The pie, the bread pudding, the cake, cinnamon buns for present opening, the cookies from earlier in the week, all sat waiting for post holiday snacking. Homesickness is a great motivator for eating. Also, no wonder I've gained back every pound lost since I started paying attention in early October. Groan.
For the past few days, I've also been surrounded by all my mother in-law's projects, remnants of Hub's dad's help taping plastic over the basement windows, cast off gift boxes, toys galore and other Christmas clutter. Goodness came of all this mess too. I think it made my in-laws feel comfortable. Hub's dad commanded the T.V. remote with gusto, and Hub's mom, between abandoning gelatinous bowls of failed sticky rice and starting anew, played "picnic" with Dee and cut out adorable paper doll chains for Dee all while watching her beloved Broncos play football. With each new rhyming song plucked from grandma's 25 plus year repertoire of teaching and directing preschool, Dee and T were in heaven. Always impressed by her magic with preschoolers, I beamed at every compliment she had for the kids.
On the last day of the trip, the day after our eagle and Red Robin for lunch adventure (we're into themes), I was exhausted (apparently, the borderline introvert took over) and elected to roll up into a ball and read as much as possible. I emerged from my daze only to feed the baby, eat twelve cookies and a piece of cake, and in an effort to save face, fold some laundry. Fortunately, football was on so everyone else was otherwise occupied.
Today, after saying our goodbyes, I was left with an empty house and kids without scheduled activities. After reading some more, I gathered myself together and got to scrubbing. It was amazingly cathartic to scrape the sticky rice as super glue from its various outposts. I then moved on to putting away the decorations and dumping all those dang desserts into the trash.
While it was a good trip, a great visit, really, I never before so clearly related to the promise of a new year and the "fresh start" I can find if I just get back to my old life, the one where I think I'm in control. After this visit, I've noticed too, that the year can also be peppered with new agenda items. New ways to engage with the kids, new comfort food recipes that help Hub know that he's important to me, and upon reflection, new opportunities to get to know and appreciate the people that I didn't exactly choose to be in my life, like my mother in-law.
May you have a lovely New Year's day. I promise I'll stop now with the holiday posts.