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The Christmas Elephant in the Room

Lucy the elephant
Lucy the Elephant, she's from Jersey!

Going to Grandma's house on Christmas Eve has been a Thompson tradition ever since we began adding grand kids to their family tree and every year we would trade-off visiting with my parents, as well:  dinner here, dessert over there, etc...

My kids are very lucky to have both sets of grandparents in their lives, they know it, we know it and, now that my kids are older (aren't we all?)  I'm beginning to truly understand why our folks look forward to having their grandchildren around them, especially during the holidaze.

My father would joke with my kids, thanking them for "re-charging" Papa after each and every visit.

Aaaaaand, as I get older (physically, because mentally I'm still, like, not even out of my teens, yet!)  I'm realizing the same restorative power, every time one of my children insist that I stop whatever it is I'm doing, RIGHT NOW, because he or she NEEDS a hug.

We had my in-laws over for dinner, last night.  Although they live just a five or ten minute car ride away (because, in Jersey, we speak in the time it takes to get somewhere rather than mileage)  we haven't visited with Grandma and Grandpa since Thanksgiving.

It's been a tough year for my in-laws.  Just last night, my father-in-law admitted that any and all of the mileage put on their car is for doctor visits and trips to the pharmacy, which is pretty much how my parents spend their days, plus or minus a trip (or twenty)  to B.J.'s.

This year, my sister-in-law broke the news that Garth (not his real name)  and I would be hosting Christmas Eve (without me, and with good reason)   so, I baked one of my mother-in-law's favorite desserts (chocolate gingerbread cake, and it was good)  to help soften the blow.

We had a lovely visit, my mother-in-law smiling and giggling through her neuralgia and my father-in-law amused by my son's heavy-handed use of mushroom gravy  (the boy mixes ketchup into his mashed potatoes, YUCK!),  and we chatted about EVERYTHING...other than Christmas Eve.

Frankly, after watching what I feel safe to say is every parent's WORST nightmare unfold in Connecticut while surrounded by the devastation of Sandy, I cannot help but feel this terribly intense need to simplify stuff, like not worry so much whether or not I'm being a good enough wife, mom, daughter, daughter-in-law, etc... and encourage my children to make each and every moment that we have together meaningful AND joyous...DAMMIT.

A wee bit unrealistic, trust me, I know.  Still.  I can't think of a better way to honor those whose worlds are turned upside down with grief, at this very moment.  It's the only way I know how.

"So, I heard you're doing Christmas Eve?"

Everyone was saying their goodbyes, while my husband helped my mother-in-law with her coat and...I got so could hear a pin drop.

"Yes, you okay with it?"

I know this sounds weird, but asking for permission just seemed like the right thing to do, at the time.  Her shoulders slumped and she slowly shook her head.

"Don't worry, Mom, I'll make sure the rest of the family knows." 

Aaaaaand, the proverbial elephant left the building.

"Your house looks beautiful, Liz."

Did I mention, my mother-in-law has great taste?!?

"Ah well, there's always next year."

Ayup, and I even suggested perhaps coffee and cake at her house for New Years...I mean...because you cannot have enough I right?!? 

Oh crap, CAKE!!!!

Aaaaaand, now if you'll excuse me, I have to call my mom to confirm our plans for Christmas Day (I'm supposed to bring cake, hence oh crap!)  because, you know, after stressing over telling my mother-in-law about Christmas Eve, I forgot to call my mom.

© 2003 - 2013 This Full House

Related:  Lucy the Elephant ornament is the work of a local New Jersey artist, all proceeds from sale of the ornament donated to Sandy Relief.  Also, a  note from Dawn aka @kaisermommy on how you can help @vdog and the rest of her family suffering from the loss of her beautiful nephew, Noah, a victim of the Sandy Hook tragedy: check out Dawn's Facebook page for more information on you can help.

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