Holidays with kids are usually hectic, joyous, crazy affairs. And this year was no different, really... except we had a few added challenges.
I had planned to get all my Christmas shopping done online. I finished the last order by the 13th of December, and sat back to wait for the packages. Unfortunately, the one delivery man came early one morning (before we were downstairs) and didn't ring the bell. I assume he knocked, but he sure didn't try hard, because we never heard him. The first I knew of his coming was a notice on the door. At first, I was tempted to panic, because I wasn't sure I would be able to get the package from the depot in time for Christmas, but thankfully, they later called and arranged to deliver it another day.
My oldest's birthday was on the 16th. We planned for her birthday party to be on the 13th, and we went out that day to get the food, cake, decorations and other supplies for the party. Unfortunately, my 2 yr old daughter suddenly threw up in the last store, and we had to wait for 20 minutes before someone came to help us clean up. That delay made us late, and we nearly didn't make it home in time for the party. Thankfully, I had done a lot of the house clean up and prep the night before, so it didn't take long to get everything ready, even though our guests were here while we were doing it.
The girls had a spa party, and made all sorts of different things, from "bath bombs" to :lip balm to a sugar scrub. It was a great night, and I think everyone had a lot of fun -- even if my 2 yr old was sick. I put her to bed as soon as we got home, and she slept through the whole thing!
I did have some last minute Christmas shopping to do. One of our traditions is to get a new ornament for each of the girls every year, for our tree. I invited my stbx to come with us, provided he behave himself and find his own way home if we asked. Unfortunately, the van broke down on the way to the mall, and while we managed to get it to a garage, it was not going to be a quick fix. And of course, it started to snow -- hard. Thankfully, we had brought the girls' snowsuits along, as we had left directly from a morning of sledding, so they were dressed warm. We were also able to get a bus to the mall from the garage.
Getting home was another story. After considering all our options, we ended up calling my father-in-law to come get us, and then we had to take two trips to get everyone home. It was a very late night, but I did get all the shopping done.
I spent most of the week before Christmas trying to get cleaned up and ready. My parents were due to stay with us after Christmas, so I wanted to have everything nice for them. Unfortunately (noticing a theme??), my washing machine quit working, leaving me with laundry piling up. Then, even more unfortunately! we were hit with a major ice storm 3 days before Christmas, that knocked the power out! Thankfully, my parents-in-law live close by, and have a wood heat fireplace, so .. 3 days before Christmas, we ended up having to stay with them. Unfortunately (yes, this is a multiple unfortunate/thankful section.. ) my stbx is living with his parents, so 3 days staying with them also meant 3 days in close, constant contact with him. Thankfully he is very good in a crisis, and made our time not just safe but pleasant.
3 days with 5 children in unusual circumstances wears on anyone when you're used to them, but when you're not, it definitely causes strain. By Christmas Eve, my mother-in-law was trying to be gracious, but showing evidence of the stress. I was also ready to be home in my own place. So, power or no power, I insisted on taking the kids home for the night. I figured, we'll be sleeping anyway, so if I pile on the blankets and pjs, everyone will stay warm, and we can come back the next day to warm up, if need be.
My brother-in-law came to save the day, or night, as it were. He let us borrow a generator for the night, and hooked up our furnace, so we could attempt to warm the place up. Unfortunately it was low on gas, but thankfully it worked long enough to provide a bit of heat, and make it tolerable. The girls had their Christmas morning at home, and.. even more thankfully, the power was restored by 10 am. It didn't take long for heat to be restored and I started the process of cleaning up again. This time more frantically, because now I had less time and more mess, LOL.
Boxing Day was busy busy busy. I had agreed to cook a turkey for my mother-in-law, so I started that Christmas night. The big extended-family dinner for my inlaws was at 12 noon (well.. closer to 1 by the time all was said and done), so off we went, turkey, kids, presents, etc. There are 4 siblings and 16 grandchildren, plus inlaws (including a new one this year!) so it is a busy family time. My ex by now was flipping into "show" mode, where he tried to "show off" to his family (and to me) that he really is a nice guy and just misunderstood. I mostly ignored him, and his attempts to make up to me. Unfortunately, his behaviour set up some nastiness that night, that included my parents, and set off some more issues for the next day. Thankfully, God used this to reveal some hidden attitudes and dangers, that I was able to prepare and protect against.
The new year brings more struggle, but some new hopes for our future. I hope to be in a much better place this time next year, celebrating freedom from oppression, healthier relationships and the comfort of my own home and family. I am shedding off the layers of lies from those who would keep me captive, and I hope to grow in the knowledge of my Lord Jesus and experience of His love.