First of all, we went on an amazing vacation. It was wonderful and pretty much all that I'd hoped it would be. Tons of time with family (with about 18 people gathered together, it was pretty much impossible to NOT be with family--and we were STILL missing a bunch of family members!), excellent food (one of my cousins is just a phenomenal cook...plus everyone got to showcase their pies, cookies, Christmas candy making skills, etc.), and time in Seattle to catch up with friends I haven't seen since our wedding or even before that.
This trip was so full of those funny little moments that make life wonderful. For instance, the last two times my family has gotten together at Christmas in Maine this way, since there are so many people, there have never been enough bedrooms to go around. The first year there was a girls "dorm" and a boys "dorm". The last time, there was one dorm for all the unmarried cousins. This time, being married, I had sort of thought to myself, "Yes! We'll get a private room!" Nope. All of the private rooms were taken up by either my parents' generation or by my married cousins with children. (It was very odd to realize that I was the only adult female there who had never been pregnant and given birth. Also, my mom is now the only one of her siblings who isn't a grandparent.) Shane and I had to sleep in the dorm with the bachelors. (At least we got to share an air mattress, rather than being on separate mattresses or something.) We were (mostly) jokingly complaining to my brother about it who said, "Well, then, you'll just have to have kids and then you'll get a room to yourself." Shane answered, "But how can we do that if we don't have any privacy?" That got a nice laugh out of my brother.
The dorm was comfortable enough, in any case, despite being in an unheated room upstairs. A couple of the nights got quite cold. You'd think that, living in Fairbanks, we'd be used to cuddling at night for warmth. But, we have a huge pile of blankets on our bed and pets who like to snuggle (well, the dog does anyway) so we spend most nights avoiding touching each other so that we don't overheat. Well, on this trip I stuck to Shane like a limpet at night. I don't remember it, but he was rather vocal in his complaints about how I nearly crowded him out of bed several times because I was trying to get as close to him as possible.
Anyway, we ate, we talked, we laughed, we watched old home videos and I nearly cried when I got to hear my grandparents' voices again. I was forgetting what they sounded like. We got to meet the newest family member, little baby D, who everyone was absolutely enchanted with. It would be hard not to, he's such a happy little guy. We got to share meals and moments and laughs with everyone. We had the traditional Nerf gun fight after the white elephant gift exchange. (Everyone laughed when the first FOUR gifts were all Nerf guns. Several of the gifters were smart and had bought or brought another one for personal protection when the inevitable war broke out.) We even got snow on Christmas morning, for a beautiful and white Christmas. My cousins from Texas loved it. (Who am I kidding? Shane and I did too.)
I got to show Shane one of my favorite places in the world, and though I tried to plant the seed of "if we ever move, we should move to New England", but it was unsuccessful. (Too far away from his family.) I miss the New England accent now. All those dropped R's and elongated vowels. Shane had never really heard it in person until we were boarding a bus to Boston (long story, tell ya later) and heard a father and son behind us talking. "Oh yeah? He's got an apahtment neah theah?" "Yeah. Neah the hahbuh." Love it.
In Seattle, I got to see and catch up with (at least a little bit) so many of my friends, including my best friend. We will, because of our different and busy schedules, manage to not talk to each other for months at a time, but when we meet again it's as if no time has passed. There's never any awkwardness, no shyness. It's the best kind of friendship.
And my eldest brother made it up from L.A. for a few days! That was the icing on the cake, for me. All four of us siblings together at one time? Those are the best moments. The fact that my husband fits in with us so well, and gets along with my brothers as if they were his own, makes it all the better. We played games, we chatted, we had a blast.
We celebrated my mom's 61st (!) birthday, and as her present one of my brothers sent us to see "Les Miserables" together. It was beautiful. I'm glad I was warned and reminded to bring tissues. My mom teared up right at the beginning so I was able to discreetly hand one over to her. I'd brought just enough so that when I was crying later, I had some for myself too.
The one bad thing about a two-week vacation is that, by the end of it, Shane and I are both ready to go home. We want our pets and our own bed. Our routine. We were tired from late nights and far too much time spent on planes or in airports. This made for a wonderful combination so we got home and got into an argument the very next night, mostly because we were both cranky and tired and stressed out and that makes for misunderstandings. We're over it now, don't worry. The fact that we're both trying to fight off colds doesn't really help, though. I seem to be winning my battle, Shane's a little less victorious. It's forcing us each to go a bit easier on ourselves, and each other, this week.
My biggest source of stress, actually, was the fact that our camera went missing. It was in my bag and then, it wasn't. It went missing almost immediately when we got to Seattle so I was starting to worry that I'd been pick-pocketed at some point during travel. (Our original flight from Maine was cancelled due to weather so we ended up taking a bus from Portland, ME, to Boston, a flight to Charlotte, N.C., and then flying to Seattle, a day later than intended. But it was one more night at Stonehouse, with cousins and aunt and uncle, so no complaints from me on that front.) Anyway, I emailed my parents this week and my dad found it. In my old room, where we'd been staying. Shane said, "Impossible! We searched that room!" At least the camera's found. I was the only one to get pictures of certain moments, and of the whole family together, and those pictures are irreplaceable to me.
This weekend I'm going to relax, I'm going to organize my home a bit more and clean things which didn't get taken care of before we left. I'm going to go easy on myself, drink lots of tea and fight off this cold. I'm going to snuggle my pets, treat them extra well, and take the dog running. I'm going to watch the latest season of "Dexter" with my husband, and make sure he's staying healthy too. He's going to treat me to a pork chop dinner tonight, since I've made all of our dinners (and consequently, lunches) since we got home.
It's good to be home.