There’s No Place Like Home

posted in: Family and Friends | 1

There’s no place like home for the holidays. I loved our two winters in the Bahamas, make no mistake about that, but as our family grew and we have grown older (just a teeny bit), I do not want to miss these precious times with our families. The holidays become extra special when you see them through the eyes of children. This year was packed full of memory making events.

Our new Thanksgiving tradition is to spend the day after together in Milford for the tree lighting on the town green. We have soups and salad and then deck ourselves out with silly lights to walk to the town green. Crowds wait for Santa to arrive on a firetruck and the tree to be lit for the season. (Side note – Why does Milford use red, white, and blue lights on their Christmas tree?????)

We really focused on finding the Christmas spirit that weekend. On Saturday, we met friends in Mystic for the Mystic Holiday Boat Parade. (Nearly every blog post has some boating connection. 😉👍)

Driving into Mystic we spied a little fleet of sailboats out on the river. In late November! Brrrrr……🥶
We had an early dinner at the Daniel Packard Inn with Patrice & George and Mary Jo & Dean. We needed fortification before walking to the boat parade.
We walked from the Daniel Packard Inn to the Mystic River to find a place on the dock to view the parade. It was a lot more crowded than I remembered form year’s past.
Bundled up and ready for the show.

I don’t think we have been to the Mystic Boat Parade for quite a few years, 2018? There is an old blog post that includes the boat parade — “Off Season Memories“. Many of the boats looked familiar, a few larger boats and many smaller ones. The six of us all own boats and we repeatedly wondered who would want to keep their boat int he water through a New England winer so that they could participate in the parade? It does look like fun — any volunteers among us????? No……

It was chilly, but comfortable enough to be out and about enjoying the boat parade and Mystic downtown. I want to make note that we did not, I repeat, did not have ice cream at Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream.

Why not make a weekend of it?? Rather than drive home we decided to have a romantic weekend and stay at the B&B where we had spent our wedding night, almost 30 years ago. Oh my, how things can change in 30 years!!!! New owners had redecorated the inn and it was crammed from floor to ceiling with antiques and STUFF. I love old things and antiques, but there is a limit. You could barely maneuver around the public rooms. That might have been ok, but our room was another story.

We stayed in the Peach Room with an Asian motif. There was a lot of PEACH.
I don’t know if this is considered “Asian”, but there were eyes everywhere in our room. Wherever we looked, something else was staring at us. It was soooooo creepy. I wasn’t sure I would be able to sleep with these creatures eyeballing us. After an initial simultaneous “OMG,” we burst out laughing! What else can you do?
Before ending our weekend getaway we spent the morning strolling around downtown Mystic, place we enjoy in all seasons. In fact, Mystic is one of the “most beautiful winter towns in the U.S.” according to CTInsider.
North Carolina is 738 miles away from Connecticut, a 12-hour drive. We appreciate today’s technology that allows us to “visit” with Don & Cindy via FaceTime.

The third annual Gingerbread House Making/Cousins Sleepover was another epic December event here.

I may be the grandparent that plans and gets everything we will need for a fun-filled weekend, but Papa is crucial to the success! He constructs all of the houses ahead of time.
Ready to decorate!
Addie came prepared with 3 pages of plans for her gingerbread house. 😍
I really really love this tradition of ours. It is such fun to just let them go and decorate however they want, no directions or structure, just fun.
Happy kids and fantastic gingerbread houses. How much candy went into their bellies???
After the hard work of decorating the houses and the sugar high from the candy, we took a walk around our neighborhood to look at the houses and lights with a stop at the gazebo. The only thing missing? SNOW!! ❄️🌨️
We were serenaded with multiple conch horn tributes. This is the first time any of the kids have tried to blow the conch horn. Not bad for first efforts, not bad at all, especially Caleb who is now playing the trombone in the school band.
By evening, Nana and Papa were ready for some quiet time by. Everyone gets into their pjs for a Christmas movie. This year we watched The Christmas Chronicles.
After a breakfast of waffles, bacon, and fruit, we made pine cone ornaments. And yes, we let them use glue guns.
The grandkids also made the little trees in the upper left photo. I had woven a tree skirt from assorted wool yarns last year. It was much too long, so this year I cut it and felted the extra cloth (washer-dryer-washer-dryer) until it could be cut without fraying. I stitched together two stuffed pine trees and then taught the kids to make the little trees out of assorted squares.
Tim made a quick trip east to visit his eastside family in mid-December. We enjoyed his company and a lunch at Celtic Cavern in Middletown.

Before we knew it, Christmas Eve had arrived, our family celebration time. My sister, Lisa and her wife, Jeanne joined us this year so it was going to be extra special. I’ll admit I may have gotten carried away with plans to make the day extra special, but it all worked and we had a wonderful family time.

The family photo. How many do you have to take before you get ONE that is acceptable to all?
And then the Santa hat photo!
We played the “saran ball wrap” game. Al and I prepared the ball with lots of silly small items and some good ones wrapped between the many, many layers. It was silly and fun for everyone.
Kids and Christmas gifts!
Always in search of a new weaving project, I spend the last couple of months weaving a blanket for each of them. The girls’ blankets are similar in colors, but not identical. Caleb had requested black, red, and white so that’s what he got! To go along with the “cozy” theme I included a book set, reading light, and squishmallow for each.

The children had their presents to unwrap and the adults did a “Yankee Swap” for their gifts, supervised by the children. I had one special whole family gift for all 11 of us. This summer we will all spend a week together at house in York, Maine. I am a big believer in the joys of anticipation so I put together another “gift” for the vacation.

A “brochure” for each family to increase the anticipation level.
Thinking ahead to our week together, I have been gathering “stuff” to do together in addition to the beach and pool and explorations, especially if we should have some less than perfect weather. Activities such as puzzles for all ages, tie dying t-shirts, painting rocks, and so on. I wrapped the different parts of the activities in separate boxes and made a “tree.” Each box was wrapped in a different paper with a corresponding matching card. The kids read the poem and distributed the cards to see who wold open each box.

It’s all about spending time together and making memories. ❤️😍❤️
We took a little time to have dinner, too. Al constructed a new table top for our small dining area so that all 11 of us could sit together. Perfect!
All decked out in this year’s Christmas pajamas, an annual tradition from Stephanie and Adam.
Have to include a photo for he Delaware crew in their Christmas pajamas.
Aaron, Ella, Alivia, and Liam
Milford Landing Marina, where we dock when visiting by boat there, has a holiday trap and buoy tree. People can get a buoy and paint/decorate it for the display.
So many buoys! So many themes, and not all were holiday themed. I like the shells and the sea glass. The toilet one was a bit odd. The David Bowie buoy (get it?) was fun to see, especially since he is one of Ryan and Caleb’s favorite musicians.

It was a wonderful holiday season, truly special. January is here now, a quieter time, and perhaps much needed after all of the holiday activities. 😉 And finally we got some snow!!!!! ❄️🌨️⛄️ Last winter was a big disappointment in the snow amount, nearly zero, so any snow fall this year was welcomed. Ok, welcomed by some of us – ME! Why live in New England if there are no seasons? The change of seasons is what I love most about this region.

Happy faces all around from Connecticut to Delaware.
The view behind our house is always a pretty sight after a snow fall.

With January here, our thoughts turn even more to the anticipation of summer cruising times. Yes, I can both enjoy the winter and snow AND look forward to warm weather cruises. Remember, anticipation is half of the of the joy!

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