******************Dion, Jon and I had a wonderful Christmas this year (except for the fact that this was our first year without Josh.) First we went to Dion's mom's, where we had appetizers and visited with Dion's brother and sister and their spouses and the nieces and nephew of the bunch. After that, we had a nice lasagna dinner with lots of other entrees; it was a fabulous feast that ended with oodles of homemade Christmas goodies.
There were all kinds of peanut-butter balls; chocolate-covered pretzels; light and dark "trash" (a mixture of nuts, pretzels, M&M's, and cereal covered with either white or dark, melted chocolate--yummy!); and all kinds of cookies! You name it--it was there. Most of it was made by Dion's brother's wife, Cheryl, and we got to take a huge bag of it home, which made Dion happy, because I'm not able to do much baking due to the problem with my hands.
While we were eating, we all caught up on the latest news of each others' families and Dion passed around some photos that Josh had just given him of himself and Chrissy together so that they all could see what Chrissy looked like. Everyone was very impressed by how cute Josh and Chrissy looked together and how pretty she is. I was so relieved that I had just gotten to meet her, even though it was just for a minute. She seemed very sweet and I'm looking so forward to getting to know her better, even though I'm nervous about it. (that's what I get for being shy, huh?)
Following dinner, we opened all our packages. Donna (Dion's sister) and Cheryl passed them out and Bob (Donna's husband) was taking pictures while we opened them. I feel bad every year when it's time to open the gifts. Dion's brother and sister always give us some little gift, but we just don't have the funds to give anything to them--especially this year, after Dion missed three months of work! I think they understand, though. There's nothing I love more than giving, but when you owe money to people, you can't put them off to buy gifts for others, IMHO. Someday...I'll get all caught up and then I'll buy, buy, buy! (not really! LOL!) I won't go hog-wild, but I will enjoy being able to give again!
The next order of business was to take family photos. They really have it down to a science where they do it by family, and at least two different people are taking a set of the same photos on two different cameras, so they have backups, just in case something happens with one of the cameras.
They took a set of the grandchildren together: Jennifer, Dara, Matthew and Jon. (I really missed Josh, Dana and Katey!) Then they added Gramma (Dion's mom, Barb) and her dog, Max. Those will be adorable photos and I can't wait to see them!
Next, we took the group family photos. They did the photos of Daren, Cheryl and Dara as a family, then with Gramma and Max, then Daren and Cheryl as a couple, then a couple of Dara and Jennifer together.
The next group were the Harts, which were Donna, Bob, Jennifer and Matthew. Then they added Gramma and Max, then Donna and Bob as a couple, then they did a couple of Jennifer and Matthew together.
Then it was our turn. Dion, Jon and me, then we added Gramma and Max. We had already been seated when I remembered that we didn't get our "couple" photo, so Dion said that we'd have Jon take it of us later on when we were at Mom's, but it never happened--we got so busy that we forgot it. It felt strange not having Josh there, but maybe next year we'll have Chrissy and the baby and Josh with us. Wouldn't that be awesome?
We hated to leave everyone, but we were also very excited to go to my mom's house and see my side of the family for Christmas next,(we don't usually get to do that) so that's just what we did. When we arrived at Mom's, we were just in time to pack up leftovers to bring home with us. After I said "hello" to everybody, I sent Dion and Jon in to visit with the folks and I got busy packing so that I would have time to visit, too.
My twin sister, Sande, her husband, Allan, and her youngest daughter, Amity, were there. Sande's son, Miles and his girlfriend, Brianne, had been there earlier and had already gone, plus her eldest daughter, Ashleigh, had other plans, so she didn't come at all. My other sister, Carol, her husband, Foo, (his real name is Allen) and her son, Bret were there. Carol's daughter, Audra, and Audra's husband, Russ, and their daughter, Olivia, were there also. Olivia is only six years old, so she was having a ball because there were presents there for her and the Christmas tree looked beautiful. My cousin, Stuart, was also there and then when the three of us popped in, and you also include my mother, you have a pretty full house!
After I packed the leftovers and helped a little with clean-up, I went in to join the others in catching up with the family gossip, but sadly, Carol and Foo had to leave and Bret followed shortly thereafter. We had a great time anyway, though, with lots of joking and laughter. Thankfully we remembered to pass the pictures of Josh and Chrissy around the first thing we got there, so they all got to see what Chrissy looked like. Foo didn't remember meeting Jon before, but I think he met him at Audra's wedding. No big deal, though...I think Jon's grown several inches since then, plus Foo met a lot of people at Audra's wedding, and he's quite shy, so it's not to be wondered at.
Oh well...overall, we had a really nice day! I kept thinking about the loved ones that were missing around the table, but I'm so thankful to God for what we have and the miracle of His Son. The Christmas miracle is the beginning of what has made it possible for us to be able to see our loved ones again.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."(John 3:16,King James)
For the New Year's, Dion and I stayed home and watched movies like we usually do, and we cuddled together, bringing in the New Year. Every year, Sande calls me from wherever she is, right around midnight, to wish me a "Happy New Year," and she did again this year. Then I call Mom. In fact, Carol, Sande and I all call Mom around midnight, because we know she still misses Dad, even after all these years. Happy New Year, everybody!
Until next time...stay safe, stay well, and may God bless you all.