Christmas chaos (but fun)

Christmas has been very busy and a tad chaotic but it’s been fun for us.

We never used to do much on the 24th but a few years ago a close friend of ours lost first her father and then her mother to cancer and to make it all a little less lonely for her and her sister, we invited them over for Christmas Eve dinner. It’s now become a tradition of sorts for a few years (they bring dessert) and it’s always lovely having them. We keep it simple with table grilling but it’s still festive. A little slideshow picture impression of our December 24th (and yes, I blur faces of everyone except Mr E and myself).

Our Christmas Day on the 25th always starts with a brunch that Mr E prepares and after that we exchange a few gifts. In the afternoon my in-laws arrive for drinks and dinner and we celebrate Christmas with them.

Oh, and the cat too enjoys the gift unwrapping!

Boxing Day, or Second Christmas Day as it’s called in The Netherlands, is always reserved for Christmas with my family at my mother’s house. My mother does a reading and a little speech for all of us, we then unwrap gifts (we do Secret Santas instead of everyone getting everyone else gifts they don’t need), have a buffet dinner, there is always a lot of chatter and singing and dancing and we end with sparkles. This year, due to circumstance, it ended up with Mr E and myself doing most of the work regarding the food (from cake and coffee to buffet dinner), so it was pretty busy for us. But fun nonetheless.

Granted, we do need two days to recover! It all looks lovely and great and it really was, but we’ve had some challenges to deal with as well, which means we have been a little less resilient. It has made doing all this this year somewhat straining despite all my efforts to not make too much of an effort. So, despite all the fun and warmth, it does make me happy that the biggest chaos of hosting the holidays (and lets face it, we pretty much hosted three parties three days in a row) is now over and it’s time to just chill.

And speaking of chaos: yesterday morning my mother called me to tell me that at 1.30 am, she, my older sister and my younger brother (who are staying with her) were awakend by fire engines. Apparently there was a fire in the apartment below my mother’s and she could see flames outside her window! A fireman even came into her apartment to assess the situation below. Luckily it was quickly extinguished, turns out it had ‘only’ been a fire on the balcony below and no one needed to be evacuated. Phew! In the second picture below, it’s my brother and sister looking down at the action outside my mother’s front door.

Also yesterday I vowed to not take care of anyone for a change, although that didn’t quite go to plan as I unexptedly had to cat-sit my older sister’s cat (he loves attention) and accept the groceries in her flat that she had ordered online.

Today a little more chilling time with some time for blogging now. Junior is at work today (he badly injred his knee a few weeks ago, so we chauffeur him to and from work as he can barely walk), Mr E is reading a book I gave him for Christmas and mini me is chattering away with our cat in her lap. Most obligations must wait for a later time, like me having to send out the new family calendar (that I make every year) to family members who were not able to come. What’s an extra few days, right? Hopefully tomorrow.

I go cat-sitting again at the end of the afternoom before I pick up Junior (Mr E brought him this morning, I pick him up again) and this evening, after a leftovers dinner, we go see the new Avatar movie on an IMAX 3D screen. I’m glad I have another week and a half of Christmas holidays left. 🙂

Merry Christmas

… from me to you readers out there…

⭐️🎄 Whatever the circumstances of your holiday may be, may it at the very least be warm and peaceful. ⭐🎄

Second Covid Christmas

Another Christmas while the Covid pandemic continues on. This year has been better than last year because this year we have vaccines! Yes, the pandemic is still around and the new Omicron variant is doing its rounds, but because of the vaccine I am more hopeful than I was last year. This year a bit more of a celebration was possible.

Everyone we were meeting over Christmas this year (my in-laws on Christmas Day and my family today on what we call Second Christmas Day here) has been vaccinated. Some have even already had their booster shots. We also had Covid testing that we could do before meeting family members, which everyone made sure to do….

So yes, we celebrated Christmas not only alone this year but also with family (even though due to the pandemic not everyone could be there as planned) and with lots of food and love to go around.

Today we may have gathered with a few more people from my family than strictly allowed. OK, so we were not a funeral (where slightly larger numbers are permitted) but we did gather as safely as possible in that we kept to protocols of self-testing before heading out, ventillating, and no kisses and very limited hugs. After last year’s quieter Christmas, where none of this was possible, this year felt so much better. For next year we hope that everyone can be there again.

Now it’s back to quaranting again and avoiding as many outsiders as possible. As lovely as it all was, I do admit I’m looking forward to cocooning again in my own house for the next week and a half of free time, no work and no social obligations.

Merry Christmas

…. for me to all of you readers out there!

Another Christmas during the Covid 19 pandemic, another Christmas faced with lockdowns but, unlike last year, this year we have vaccines that can help protect us (and I just made my booster appointment for January 4th!) and antigen self-tests we can do in addition before we see someone. It’s all still far more low key than pre-pandemic but (despite Omicron) it all feels a tad more hopeful to me than last year. So, let’s hope that this will be the last such Christmas!

To those who are alone or missing someone or just feeling bah-humbug about the holidays (I’ve been feeling a lot of that too this year), you are in my thoughts. To those of you who can celebrate with loved ones, count your blessings. In each and every case I’m sending out my Christmas hugs to you all!

Multitasking and tug of war

The holiday season is definitely upon us, another weird year where we are half in quarantine yet again during the holidays. We’re working from home again, office Christmas parties are online again, and all restaurants, theatres, museums and non-essential shops are closed after 5 pm, at least until mid January. This Omicron Covid variant is looking grim as we still await our booster shots (my mother and aunt have had theirs, though, so that’s good).

So, office Christmas parties. There was an online work Christmas get together yesterday with a pub quiz but as there is much left to do before my daughter’s 18th and my aunt’s 85th birthday this weekend (on the same date!) and also for Christmas, I used the time to multitask. The Christmas shopping I have been ordering online is coming in now and things need to be wrapped, so while I was answering online pub quiz questions, I was also wrapping gifts…

Earlier in the week there was an online Christmas do for the volunteers at the Refugee Center where I work and, in between a full day of online meetings, I was able to use my lunch break to participate in that. Glad I did, it was fun. More fun than my regular work Christmas thing as it was more personal.

I spent yesterday evening working on a birthday video for my beloved aunt but when I watched it again this morning before work, the first half felt more like a funeral than a party. So, while working, I listened to all sorts of music on YouTube to figure out another first track for the video. I found a funny one and changed the music in my video during my lunch break. I used the first 3 and a half minutes of this…

As it’s getting quiet at work, I also pinched some time to finish the birthday poster for my daughter (with a small portrait picture for each year of her 18 years), as I do every year. I think I am now finally on top of things (except for party shopping which will happen tomorrow).

I’m really glad the Christmas holiday is coming up! I only have today, Monday and Tuesday to work and then I’ll have two weeks off. Bliss. My current boss and my new boss are caught up in a tug of war over me. My new boss wants me mid February, my old boss wants to hold on to me for a month longer (officially I have a 3 month notice period) and I’m just sitting back, watching it unfold as I simultaneously keep telling my current boss I’d also rather leave sooner than later. She’s so weird. Before I got the job she was encouraging me and saying how I should do all I can to follow my work-heart and now that I am, she’s holding me back. Anyway, it’ll work itself out. I’m starting to get into a Christmas zen mode, no use to to get worked up over things I can’t change.

Richard is getting his Christmas mood on as well, with his traditional call to give to a good cause…

I wonder if the message on the Just Giving page that he links to is also his Christmas message this year…

I hope he’ll still write a message more like he has done in previous years where he reflects on the past year. No pressure and time will tell, but it would be nice.

Anyway, it’s been really busy this week. On Wednesday I even had an insane amount of volunteer work to do at the Refugee Center that didn’t fit into the one afternoon I usually do and it took me all day. As my regular work is now starting to dry up, I’m quitting early today and I’m more than ready for the weekend to arrive. Back to single tasking and getting out of the way of tug of wars.