Long overdue tales of holidays past . . . (for more photos see previous post).
I have already detailed the travel endurance trials portion of our journey and the physical and emotional recovery period. I should note that once we got back into our routine, Anna got back into her easygoing nature, although we did have one heckuva long night last week with a very unhappy, nonsleeping, teething babe. Not that more teeth have made it through yet.
As far as what all our trip included, well, it could be summed up in the word PEOPLE. People people people everywhere wanted to meet Anna. And meet her they did. With our Christmas Eve travel delays, we had no day to decompress before we hit the ground running. Christmas Day is always a full one for us since we stay at my parents’ house, go to Aaron’s parents’ for Christmas with the immediate family, and then go to his grandparents’ for the big extended family dinner and gift exchange (and wrapping paper whipping contest).
We went to his parents’ as usual and had time with them plus Aaron’s brothers and their lovely ladies and daughters. Anna and her two-year-old cousin Autumn shared a sweet minute of holding onto each other and staring and then a big kiss from Autumn. This year things were a bit different in that we had dinner there instead of with everyone at his grandparents’—the big dinner was called off because of his grandmother’s health. Grandma S. was diagnosed with cancer not long ago and sadly it is a type for which they can do basically nothing at this point. She is at home receiving care from family and hospice. We did all gather at their house for time together and gifts, though, and I suspect that Grandma summoned great energy for and from having everyone together, as you probably would not have guessed she was sick had you not known. She is a wonderfully kind, sweet, yet strong woman. She tells us each time she sees us and in notes that she prays for us every single day and always wants to know specifically how to pray. I know she prays for Anna too so we were grateful that she and Grandpa both were able to meet her that day.
For once I was grateful the drive from there back to my parents’ is long since Anna needed the nap—more family waiting to meet her! My aunt, uncle, and Grandma H. had driven over from the Detroit area for the day (my brother and his wife had arrived the day before). Grandma wanted to hold that baby on her lap right away, finally! (Anna is the first great-grandchild on my side.) We had dessert and there were plenty of packages for Anna to rip open, now that she was an old pro at that game. My parents got her a walker/ride-on lion which makes music and emits a comical giggle/roar. She bends her knees and bops her booty as soon as she hears it, and she figured out fast that it’s pretty fun to shove around. Busy day!
The next day we didn’t have to drive anywhere, but more family descended: grandparents, aunt, and cousins from my mom’s side also arrived from the east (though being warned in a dream, some returned home in other directions). Papa wore his natty holly bow tie, my cousins as usual brought great comic relief, and my aunt provided lemon tarts and made a fantastic Ethiopia-to-U.S. map wall hanging for Anna. My mother tricked us all into decorating cookies in the traditional retro-psychedelic style and ridiculous quantities for which we are known.
The next few days were a little more relaxed, attempting to leave Anna time for at least one good nap a day (normally she is still a two-napper). We had meals out (or in) with friends and spent time with our families. Friday we got some beautiful fresh snow. Saturday night we were at FunnyWriterMommy and Beau’s house and their two-year-old was showing Anna how to run around like a crazy girl. For about a week Anna had been taking a few steps between us or objects when coaxed, but suddenly she saw that big girl walking around with a toy and thought I’m going after her! She took off on her own and then got brave to walk farther and farther distances across rooms. She loved practicing and soon really got the hang of it. Now she’s walking all over the house all the time like an old pro (okay, like a clutzy old pro who falls down a lot, but falls like an old pro too). Wow! (And yikes!)
By Saturday night Anna was getting my cold and didn’t sleep well because she was congested. She kept waking up needing to be patted or picked up to go back to sleep, but then it would only last a half hour (hmm, come to think of it, she gave us a reenactment of this last night). Finally we found our infant motrin and brought her into bed with us, and
we she slept the rest of the night (guess whose pillow she always drifts onto?). We decided we needed to skip church and get some rest, though, since we had a big evening ahead. That day was the worst I felt throughout my cold. Anna perked up fine though.
Sunday night was the big “come meet Anna” open house there at my parents’ house. This really turned out to be a good idea since a lot of people were able to come and we could not possibly have seen them all otherwise. There were tons of kids running all over the house too—good thing Grandma seems to have a toy factory in her basement!
New Year’s Eve we had one last hurrah with old friends. The sweetness makes it that much harder to say good-bye. It was good we didn’t stay any later, though, because it was snowing like heck all the way home. Watched the ball drop at my parents’ but should have focused more on packing, because the next morning got frantic (sorry again Mom and Dad). It was kind of like how we left Ethiopia (yes, that tale will come in time). All to get to the airport and stand in a line for an hour . . . which brings us back to our return home (brings us back to 'Doh!') and the end of this scintillating saga. What travel or celebration tales will the next installment hold?