Life By Kristen

Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. – Little Women

Archive for the tag “family”

Holidays These Days

Thanksgiving has come and gone. The moments of sadness were there, but overall, it was a day filled with love and family, which is how it should be.

My Christmas spirit hasn’t quite kicked in yet. We’re waiting to decorate the house until Little Man is with us, which won’t be until the second weekend in December. My office mate is listening to Christmas music and decorated our office Christmas tree, but otherwise, there isn’t a lot of Christmas around me yet. I adopted a needy family from the local child and family services again this year, so have been doing some shopping, but mostly online. After our huge house cleanouts this past summer, we’ve all decided we have enough stuff so are not doing Christmas presents;, so the only shopping to be done is for Little Man.  I am looking forward to seeing the holiday through a child’s eyes , so decorating with him will be fun. I think we may even do gingerbread houses together, which I’ve never done before!

Last year, the shock of Dad’s death 9 days before Christmas was numbing. What was to be a quiet Christmas with my parents, Q, and me turned into everyone being home and  supporting each other through a devastating time. We spent Christmas Eve and Day at home all together, something that hadn’t happened in years- so while it was sad, there was this amazing feeling of love and support from so many people that really helped us get through.

This year will be quite different. It’s just Q, Mom, and I, with only a little bit of Christmas Eve with Little Man. So we’ll see some of Q’s family and spend Christmas Eve and Day with close friends of the family ( or as I like to call them, family by choice). I’m taking the day after Christmas off from work. Overall, I think the holiday will pass without a whole lot of fanfare, which I appreciate since in the last 5 years or so, I’ve always felt so frantic this time of year. I’m coming to accept that every holiday will bring changes in the next few years, which isn’t a bad thing. I’m hoping we can maintain some old traditions, while making new ones for our family as a whole, and my small family with Q & Little Man.

Mostly, I’m thinking about how fast the year went by, but probably not in the same sense that everyone else is. It’s hard to think it will be a year since we lost Dad on the 16th of this month- it is both amazing and shocking still that it happened, that it has been that long, and that there are still days when life gets busy that I forget for an instant that it happened at all. Grief is so strange at times.

In the midst of all of this emotion, we’re adding another level to all of the feelings with the sale of my grandmother’s house. It was tough over the summer as we cleaned it out, knowing the only reason it was all happening was because Dad was gone. Now that the house has finally sold and we emptied out the last of the things we wanted over Thanksgiving weekend, it didn’t feel as sad because the house was pretty bare bones and disheveled, so it almost helped it feel less like a home. Maybe that’s just my way of containing emotions in a very overwhelming time. It seems almost fitting that the sale coincides pretty close with the year anniversary of his death. Maybe with one less thing off of the family’s mind, we can all work a bit more on our new phases in life. I’m hopeful.

Free Form Canadian Vacation

This post is long overdue, as it was over a month ago (!) that I went on vacation with my mother to Canada. Normally a vacation recap would be riddled with photos, but in what can only be explained as an electronics vortex around my mother and I on this particular adventure, almost no pictures were taken because our cameras and phones decided to be non functioning for most of the trip.

With Q unable to get out of work and Air National Guard duty, it was just my mother and I roadtripping it up north to her homeland ( Mom’s Canadian, btw). It was bittersweet to be going on such a big adventure without my Dad, but an important trip for us both to take for a million reasons, the biggest to show that we rule at driving ( we already knew we vacation well together from our Holland adventure of 2013).

The goal of the trip was really just to visit family and enjoy time up there. Other than our hotel reservations and ferry tickets for the beginning and end of our trip, we had no set plans at all. Our only goals were to eat our weight in seafood, namely lobster. We called it our “free-form vacation.”

We drove Massachusetts to St. John, New Brunswick on day one- seven hours in the car. We didn’t even put the radio on ( actually, we didn’t the entire trip). We just talked, made observations along the way, or were quiet with our thoughts. Day two took us to Prince Edward Island, where I had never been and Mom hadn’t been to since she was a child. We stayed in Charlottetown, avoiding the crazy tourist area that is Cavendish and Anne of Green Gables fandom. I was happy that we avoided it– working in a tourist town, I tend to like to do low-key for vacations and have missed out on many landmarks or ‘must see’s in favor of walking around little shops and eating in random places.

Day three had us taking the ferry from PEI to Nova Scotia and then driving about 3.5 hours to my mom’s family up in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. This was only my third trip to Cape Breton, having visited as a child and then seven years ago for a whirlwind trip for a giant family reunion. It’s beauty and setting is amazing– I would suggest everyone goes once in their lifetime ( it’s not a rough trip for New Englanders to make by car!). We spent the week visiting with family, eating lots of lobster, exploring little areas of the island, and relaxing. My mom took me on a tour of her old neighborhood, doing the creepy slow car roll by the house she grew up in and her father built before they moved to the States.

We ended the week making another seven hour car ride through Nova Scotia to get to Yarmouth, staying the night there so we could take the NovaStar ferry to Portland, Maine the next morning. It was a great experience doing the ferry– we had a great ride, wonderful food, and spent lots of time napping, reading, and playing Scrabble. We stayed the night in Portland and hit the outlets in Kittery, Maine on the way home that Sunday, arriving back in our town in late afternoon– just in time for me to prep for going back to work the next day. Mom was lucky enough to have the following week on vacation at home too ( still jealous!)

Our trip was one of those that every person needs to take every so often- restorative, quiet, relaxed, contemplative. I needed the time away to recharge my batteries a bit and get away from the craze of life, as did Mom. It’s also amazing to me how wonderful it feels to see family that you don’t get to see very often. The entire trip was filled with so much laughter and smiles- it was exactly what we both needed.


Cape Breton via here


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