A few weeks past, it is time for our Christmas in review. And don’t you worry as I write this I am listening to Christmas music, in my reindeer sweatshirt curled up next to my Christmas tree. Because – truth? In our house we can’t quit Christmas this year…. and it’s actually still pretty fun with my festive candles glowing and our first snow flakes of the season whizzing around outside our windows. Let’s enjoy just a little bit longer…..
Bessette Christmas’s remind me of that song you hear during Home Alone as they race through the airport….. Run, Run, Rudolph!! A mad dash from one family event to the next with arms full of packages, tummies full of tasty treats, and always room for one more cup of cheer. And although always a little crazy – we have yet to find a better way to celebrate the birth of our Lord, than with as much family as possible.
Christmas celebrations for us officially start at the end of the work day on Christmas Eve – which luckily is always a little earlier than expected (amen!!). This year it was especially fast as projects were wrapped up quick and plans for a long awaited break with a closed office until January 4th were shared between us all – we had just enough time to unwrap some of the most perfect gifts and cheers until next year!
From the office I raced home to pack up for the night (we planned to stay at my in-laws) and finish up some contract work. Between holiday celebrations we would not be back at our house with time to address work and laundry and all those not so fun tasks for a few days – so we scrambled to get everything stable enough to be ignored for a few days. And let’s be honest – as an adult that is some of the more fun things about holidays – an excuse to ignore the to dos…. so we dotted our “i’s” and crossed our “t’s” and then it was off to my Dad’s extended family’s Christmas I went!
Each year my parents’ and my uncle take turns hosting and this year we were at my Uncle Chip’s for Christmas. It was a great kick off to the season since this is one of our smaller gatherings. You actually have a chance to visit with everyone and hear how their year has shaped up or what they plan to do to soak up the holiday season. And since we have started to exchange names over the last few years, even the gift giving has become super relaxed. It was a good way to start Christmas 2015. So after some visiting, a heap of brie, a taste of wine, and an exchange of thoughtful gifts – I was off! (Sorry for limited pictures- my iPhone is on death’s door at this point and unless I had Danny’s phone or my camera charged – I was out of luck!)
Danny’s brother arrived at the airport right near our house in the middle of this gathering, so Danny stayed to pick up Peter and pack up the car for our following few days. This gave me a chance to get back to the homestead one last time, freshen up and then off we went to the Bessette’s Christmas Eve celebration.
Christmas Eve has always been the big night for the Bessette family. We usually have a wonderful dinner, delicious wine, and our exchange of gifts. Since we all had been running around that Christmas Eve and Peter had flown all day – we opted for a family favorite, PF Cheng’s at home – and then all gathered around the tree to do presents and just hang out. Everyone enjoyed for sure!
After all the wrapping was trashed and every gift had been “Ohhh-ed” and “Ahhh-ed” over….. we cleaned up the living room and then ourselves to head to midnight mass. This was a new one for us since normally we try and go to the afternoon mass (which turns into an overheated, crazy crowded MESS where you are waaaayyyy too busy to hear about the blessings of the season, because you are watching the parent versus child matches taking place ALL AROUND YOU) or first thing Christmas morning. But in recent years those masses are over crowded, or Danny feels too cruddy in the AM to race to mass without an hour of treatment so we tried midnight out for size. And it was great! It was a lovely service with plenty of seating and we actually were on time!! It only backfired when we slept through ALL of our alarms the next morning and had to attend the Bessette brunch with longtime friends – in our PJs… oops!
Christmas Eve at the Bessette’s is always a really important night for Danny and I, as we remember the evening Danny proposed at his parent’s home with the engagement ring on the Christmas tree. We like to look back on our year and how we have recommitted ourselves to the promise we made that night in 2009. This year I was especially taken with the realization that Danny has truly become my partner this year – and how life has shifted from the desire to have each other, to the need we have found to be each other’s person. And although the need is not always born out of the most happy of moments – it has led to the most precious of love, I know I am only lucky enough to know thanks to what God has given to us in each other. We love Christmas Eve.
And yes – you read it correctly – I went to brunch, the brunch I was looking forward to actually attending completely ready and ON TIME – as opposed to most years I am still racing to get ready while it begins- in my sweats. So I did it with a BIG Mimosa! Sometimes plans just don’t work out so you gotta laugh and move on! Plus Danny and I slept like rocks so I guess those hours were exactly what we needed. And this year the brunch group – due to illness and conflicting plans – was left to just sweet Edie! Lucky for us, she never has anything but compliments to give and she assured Danny and I that even in sweats we looked “just terrific” – God, bless her, won’t ya!
Following brunch Danny and I fought over bathroom space and raced against the clock to be ready for the next Bessette Event – John’s sister and her family. What has started as an “every once in awhile” gathering has turned into a regular event with unbelievable Pinterest worthy snacks and an ALWAYS hilarious Yankee Swap.
However this year, the year we said no gifts (that luckily no one was smart enough to believe that anyone would follow that rule), Danny and I were also blown away at the quilt his Aunt Linda made – by hand! She started last January and now we have the most beautiful quilt to be cozy on the couch with! It was so incredibly kind and we were just left speechless with the skill and sentiment.
Early afternoon we hugged our good byes and headed to my families’ for the afternoon and dinner. As I had shared early in the holiday season, our family is experiencing some bumps in the road – but the bottom line was that Christmas is a holiday about our Lord and sharing His message of hope and love with our most cherished ones. Even if we aren’t in the best place, we are still family and still share that love and hope…. so we came together to eat, drink, share gifts and be merry!
And in addition to my family we are always lucky enough to have my Ganmommy, Aunt Tama and Uncle Joe at this celebration too!
This year – we gave everyone an extra special gift – personalized playing cards! Our family is famous for the game “Pounce” that most holidays you will find us all – all 9 of us (Danny and Kelly now too!!) crowded around a table hooting and hollering about points and whose card made it to what pile first – etc. The way you keep score is to count the number of cards a person has from their deck (each player has their own deck of cards)in the center. So an added challenge besides the game? To find 9 difference decks of cards. It has been a longtime plan to have cards made with pictures to tell them apart, so this year we found as many funny pictures of everyone as we could and made personalized cards. The game was not able to come together this year – but the cards did provide a lot smiles and a little of that Christmas Hope that we will return to our crazy cards in the future.
As with all the Heppes gatherings the hours passed long before we knew it and we did not make it home until after midnight! But to home we finally returned and Danny, Peter, Quinlan and I turned in for quite the winter’s slumber – with visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads!
This Christmas one line continued to find its way to the center of my heart “Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow”. It is amazing how many ways life can change. Sometimes its good – someone follows their dream of moving away and misses Christmas at home; sometimes it is bad: divorce requires a Christmas holiday to be divided. You never know how one holiday to the next the players, or even just circumstances change….. those fates. One of my favorite bloggers included in her holiday message this year a message of hope – for those whose holidays are hard, that they find peace and love this season, even amongst their difficulties. As we say so long to this holiday, I hope you are able to find some moments of hope and love to cherish. But you know what – if they were hard, that is part of life too…. and none of us can hide from what life has in store. Just don’t give up those fates are already at work for next year and perpetual hope is free for all who seek it. May God bring peace and love to us all through years.
Stay tuned this week for how we spent our Christmas Vacation!
Thank you of reading and remember to make it a great day!