Christmas was different this year.
"Different" can keep you on your toes sometimes.
It can barrel you out of ruts and force you toward a new way.
It can refresh you as you see things new ways.
It can usher in simplicity when the old ways are pared down.
The "different" in our Christmas did all those things for me.
Thankfully, the four things that remained the same were the four people that make up my family.
That's all you really need, anyway, right?
Christmas morning was spent at the house of our friends who graciously shared their home with us over the holidays while they were on vacation. The sharing of their home was one of the greatest gifts we received this Christmas. Really and truly. Though it may not appear so, I am an introvert. There, I said it. I get re-charged and re-energized from being ALONE. So, to have a place to call our own where I could be all alone even for a few minutes a day was so critical in me being able to maneuver the holidays.
The girls woke us up and we opened stockings filled with gifts from Santa. (How'd he get the stockings from our house in Burnaby to Winnipeg, and fill them with presents anyway?) He's that good.
I LOVE this picture of Hannah!
Do you see her little sister's adoring eyes on her in the bottom?
Fast forward a week or so.... On January 2nd we flew back to Vancouver. It was FREAKING cold in Winnipeg that day. Did I mention lately how much I deplore bone-chilling cold? As we were saying goodbye to my mom and dad at the airport and giving them their vehicle back, I couldn't wait to run into that airport and throw my bags on the counter to get away from the frigid conditions. I love the people, I love the heart, I love the places of the prairies, but send me west for the weather any day of the week.
We hopped on the plane and settled in.
Sasha was sporting her new Piggy pillow...
I ended up sitting alone across the aisle from Mike and Sasha. My seat-mate and I had a great conversation. I knew we would when I noticed him pull A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by one of my all-time favourite writers, Donald Miller, out of his back pack.
It was clear for our landing. If you fly into Vancouver on a clear day you are in for a gift from God of the biggest proportion. The magnitude of the majesty of the mountains from that vantage point is mind-blowing. I would never get tired of it.
The closer we got to the landing strip, the more thankful I was for the green patches of grass that were waiting for us.
After we landed, we hailed a cab for the drive "home". The girls were anxious to get home because January 2nd was our Christmas. All of their gifts had been left under the tree until we returned. We walked in the door to unload the suitcases, and then went out for our Christmas dinner. We decided on "Cristos Greek Taverna" a neighborhood spot that makes huge souvlaki platters that we all love. We clinked our glasses to Christmas, shared favourite memories of our trip and looked forward to our time together at home.
To give it that "authentic" Christmas morning feel, we all changed into our pajamas and house-coats before we began. It was only right.
Who knew a calendar would be this exciting?
Ellie's deranged look in this picture is the perfect reaction to her much longed for "Wild Thing" Snuggie. That's right. Snuggie. We are now a two-Snuggie household. What does that say about us?
Much to my surprise, Mike had something waiting for me under the tree! And yes, that package I'm holding says "Holy Crap". One of our traditions is watching "Dragon's Den" together with Hannah on Wednesdays nights after the little girls have gone to bed. A few months ago, we saw a couple from Sechelt B.C. touting their "Holy Crap" cereal. Jim Treliving could hardly contain his enthusiasm for the stuff saying he'd give them whatever they wanted if they'd let him in the deal. We were curious as to what it was like - could it really be that good? A few weeks before Christmas Mike flew up to Sechelt to a job site and picked some up for me.
When we were in Banff this summer making our way west, we stopped in a children's toy store. Ellie found a pig in the back of the store that nuzzles you, takes deep soothing breaths and whispers sweet nothings in your ear. She fell madly in love with this pig. She named it, and lovingly carried it around the store. She was so enamoured with this pig that when we left the store and continued our walk, Ellie was in deep mourning. The kind of mourning that actually pulls at your parental heart-strings a little. Little did she know that I wandered back to the store while she swam later that evening and scooped up the pig and hid him safely all the way to Burnaby. Since the summer, Ellie would lovingly talk of "Wilbo" and lament over her lost love. We could hardly wait to see her open him up!
Sasha picked out some stylin' new pajama pants for Christmas. They've got Oscar the Grouch all over them and say, "Smell Ya Later". Perfect for Daddy!
Hannah gave Ellie a little hand-made monster she bought for her at a craft sale in East Vancouver.
We thought it was time to give Hannah something fitting for a soon to be 11 year old. Something to encourage her independence and sense of responsibility. She was thrilled to unwrap a watch!
At press time, Hannah cannot find said watch. We are not surprised.
Sasha's big gift was her very own scooter. She thought she'd been riding her sister's for way too long.
The best part of living in BC at Christmas time is that you actually get to try out the Christmas gifts you open! January 3rd (our boxing day) was beautiful, sunny, and warm. We cracked open that scooter box and took that baby for a little spin around the hood.
My girls were wearing hoodies and riding their scooters on the sidewalk beside green grass. In January. Does it get any better than that?
As we walked and scootered that afternoon I was in amazement of the green grass and blooming buds. I always thought there'd be brown grass in B.C. in the winter. I was so thankful to feel the warm sun on my face that afternoon. It was nourishing to my body and spirit and helped me readjust to the months ahead.
That was our Christmas.
It was different.
But it was good.