This year, my family was wonderful.
This year, they came to us.
Paul, Ben and I have barely recovered from the trauma of Traveling To Pennsylvania last month. And while I would have gladly loaded my family onto a plane to go to Victoria, when my sister suggested Christmas in L.A., I jumped at it. When she came up with the plan for us all to stay in Santa Monica at a rented house on the Venice border, I was delighted. Not only would we get to spend Christmas with my family, but we would get a little beach vacation out of it!
So Paul and I moved our little family out to a rented artists’ cottage just northwest of Lincoln & Rose for the last few days before Christmas. We brought three carloads of Mostly Unnecessary But Fun stuff, including the Wii. Grudge match “The Price Is Right” video game playing ensued. Presents were exchanged and opened. My mother’s traditional perfect turkey was cooked. It was a haze of family time, eating and holiday fun – exactly what the holidays should be. Oh, and beach walks through Venice, which I have sorely missed since moving east.
One of my favorite moments was watching Monica decorating the Christmas bush (a shrubbery!) with Ben. She would ask Ben if a decoration should go on a certain branch and he would say “no” until his aesthetic sense dictated it should be hung where she was indicating. Then he held up gold ribbon bows – not the easier to reach silver ones – for her to add. Ben has indicated that he actually understands color groups! And he was babbling away and chatting to Monica in Ben-speak and having a wonderful time with her. It was adorable. After watching Jon do the same thing with him the next day, I was ready to check their luggage to make sure they didn’t take off with my toddler.
FROM MONICA & JONATHAN TO BEN: A large toy dump truck, with realistic dumping action, made out of high quality German engineering
FROM US TO MONICA & JON: A pair of Roombas, a regular one and a Dirt Dog
FROM MOM TO HER DAUGHTERS: Nana’s jewelry, which Mom had appraised. Not only are they beautiful pieces, but it was a piece of our grandmother’s legacy that my mother passed on to us, making them officially priceless
FROM ME TO PAUL: Super Mario Brothers for the Wii, which he is playing now
FROM MONICA AND ME TO MOM: A tiny, cherry-red Acer netbook she can take to the Starbucks when she’s hanging out in WeHo
FROM US TO BEN: A crapload of Duplo, which we will find shoved everywhere for years to come
FROM NANA TO BEN: The “Llama Llama Red Pajama” trilogy, which he loves
FROM MONICA AND JONATHAN TO BEN: Thomas the Tank Engine dishes, which result in a delighted cry of “Choo choo!” whenever he gets to the bottom of a meal
However, we had to break up the happy gathering on Friday, Christmas Day, when the rental house went to another renter. Monica and Jonathan flew back to Ontario, and we loaded up the cars and drove back to SiFi by way of WeHo. Mom is now here for her winter in L.A., which runs through the first week of February. She has a little sublet house in West Hollywood, where Ben and I dropped her off on Christmas Day. She even has a borrowed car that goes with the house, so she can re-learn the city she grew up in. (“Oh, the Troubadour! I went to shows there! How is it still open?”) For now, she’s happily ensconced out in WeHo, where she feels perfectly at home. Seriously, it’s like BC out there – gay couples with their kids, legal marijuana…just like English Bay in Vancouver!
Paul and I then spent the rest of the weekend recovering and unpacking. Well, not so much with the unpacking. As always, I will probably have a suitcase on the floor for a month after my return home. But for now, I’m telling myself I’m going to put it away during the next 4 day weekend, which starts Thursday. Winter holidays are awesome.