When we made our plans to come here, I scheduled something for each day. In the past, we'd stay with Mom and Dad, and anytime that wasn't scheduled was spent doing things for them or just visiting with them. Today we had family Christmas scheduled for 3:00 this afternoon. We were done with breakfast by 9:00. What were we to do with 6 empty hours? Neither one of us wanted to hang out in our motel room. So, we ventured out in nasty weather to go shopping. We went to Tar.get, which is not available near us. We went to the mall. Daughter and I both bought new clothes. We had lunch at a restaurant in the mall. I got a Chinese acupressure massage in the center court. She thought my shoulders were very tight. Really? Daughter got a new video game. We went to a big discount store. Then, we headed to Brother's house. Sister thought I looked unhappy and demanded to know what was wrong. I assured her nothing was wrong, we'd just spent the day shopping. She said, "Oh, no wonder you look terrible. You hate shopping." I do hate it, but all things considering, it went remarkably well today.
We had our traditional Christmas dinner, but it was strange because there were just 6 of us there. Sister and Little Niece, Brother and Sister-in-law, and the two of us. Far Away Sister and her family had been here for two funerals this year, so they were leaving for a family vacation someplace sunny, someplace where they wouldn't slide through intersections as I was doing this morning. We played cards after we ate. Brother was in rare form tonight. He was wearing a kilt. He got one this fall, and apparently is wearing it every opportunity he gets. His attire prompted many comments, of course. Daughter and Little Niece watched a video and listened to a CD until Sister decided she had to leave to get Little Niece into bed. Then Daughter joined us for a couple of card games. She protested, but she thoroughly enjoyed herself. I don't remember the last time I saw her laughing and having so much fun.
Tomorrow we head over to spend the day with Sister and Little Niece. Sister still lives with her ex-husband, and he will cook a feast for us for supper. It should be a fun day. Wednesday morning we'll head home. It will be good to get home. Life after my parents' death is different. I'm still learning how to navigate it. One of the things I've realized is that we really don't need to spend much time here. There's just not much to do now that I'm not running errands for them. It's also very freeing. It means that we can come and go as we please without worrying about who is going to be transporting them and how long they can tolerate being out. It's been a long time since we've been able to play cards at Christmas. Dad didn't play cards, and didn't have the stamina or patience to stay while we played. Sometimes I'd bring him and then Sister would take him home when she left with Little Niece. We talked Mom and Dad tonight, and it was with joy and laughter as we remembered their quirks.
I took some walnut crescent cookies to Neighbor yesterday. She protested that she hadn't gotten me anything. I told her that I had baked the cookies, and if I hadn't brought her some, Mom would have come back and haunted me. Mom knew they were Neighbor's favorite cookies, so she always sent some to her. Neighbor laughed and acknowledged I was right, Mom would have haunted me. She talked about how Mom always remembered what cookies different people liked, and made sure they got extras. We have good memories, and we know that Mom and Dad are happy and at peace. It's been a good day, though very different....