Christmas is for kids, or so they say, and we had our first real version of it this year, with one four-legged kid and one two-legged kid. One of the down sides to being the only ones in your family living in the country is that no one wants to come to you. They don’t want to get stuck in a snowstorm or trek all that way just to trek all the way home. So we decided to go and spend Christmas in Toronto. Given how well this went, it baffles the mind that anyone would want to undertake Christmas by traveling with an actual child, let alone two or three. Let me tell you why.
Tom and I always used to laugh at people who bought huge SUVs and filled them with kids, bags, clothes, toys, and the kitchen sink. We used to say that we would never be like that. Never say never. We looked, to quote a favourite TV show of mine, like the ‘people from the Grapes of Wrath going on vacation’ this Christmas. It would have been easier to rent a U-haul to get us to my Mom’s house in Toronto. We had a suitcase of clothes for us, one for our daughter, her potty, her pull-ups, her sippy cups, her toys, her DVDs and… the kitchen sink? In addition, we had a dog bed, dog blankies, dog toys, dog food and dog treats. We also had a whining dog in a crate. We had presents, half of Christmas dinner and a whole lot of other paraphernalia including snow pants, hats, mitts, scarves and boots. Oh, and we had a Christmas tree on the roof because Mom didn’t buy one and we wouldn’t have Christmas without one.
It took us 55 minutes to load up the truck and I can tell you that it was definitely sagging some when we were done. We needed another 10 minutes to run around the house to make sure that we hadn’t forgotten anything and we left. What little Christmas cheer we had left was brought to life by the donning of a Santa hat, which I wore the entire trip down, to the glee and delight of kids, large and small, in other cars. Or maybe it was the antlers and red nose on our car? The dog, however, continued to whine. We finally left, only to turn back briefly because I had forgotten something. I know: hard to believe!
An hour and 45 minutes later, we arrived at Mom’s and spent another 45 minutes unloading the car. Now, Mom’s house is not dog or kid proof: there are only certain rooms that the beasts are allowed to roam in, for good reason. Mom is an artist. She has paints and chemicals and plaster and pieces of wood, metal and Styrofoam, to say nothing of the sculptures themselves. They would not be greatly improved by either kid adding her own signature gnaw marks or crayon designs on them. We toured the house to make sure everything had been put away and all the doors that should be closed were closed and the toilet lid was down, otherwise ‘you know who’ would have herself a little drink of ‘eau de toilette’ – and I am NOT referring to my perfume!
The Christmas tree was set up, and promptly knocked over. Three guesses as to the culprit! The tree was placed in an out of reach area, decorations added and the parental units finally sat down to a well-deserved drink.
Now, if you’ve ever tried cooking with a golden retriever AND a pre-schooler in the room, you know that they tend to sit and play right behind your feet while you are standing at the counter, resulting in near disaster if you step back to go get something. Tom and I are used to this and have learned to shuffle rather than step. Mom was not similarly prepared. Suffice it to say that a whole whack of stuffing went down the hound’s gullet in a snap, barely hitting the floor before she vacuumed it up.
We all finally settled down to eat and had a very determined set of brown eyes observing us: dancing from person to person, hoping for a morsel to fall from our plates. Post-food fest, we all opened gifts. Maggie opened hers by ripping off and attempting to eat the wrapping. The rest of us were slightly more civilized. But only slightly. And here was the real benefit to kids at Christmas. Nikki was in wonder at all of her gifts. She exclaimed WOW and OHH with every one. She played and played until exhaustion finally took over. Christmas seen through her eyes is incredibly special and wonderful. For her, it was the first year that she really ‘got it’, where we could play up the Santa myth and watch as her eyes grew wide in wonder with the thought that as she slept, presents would arrive under the tree!
After a day of rest, we loaded up the truck again, several gifts heavier but minus one tree and a lot of food. 55 minutes later, we on the road back to our country home. Home sweet home. Happy New Year!