Could you just…

…wait for Grandma? How about a cheese?

…get your finger out of the cake and say cheese?

(for Cee’s On The Hunt for Joy challenge: say cheese. Grateful, as always, for family.)

Grateful for Openings

“I bought a turkey roll and frozen stuffing,” Ric announced after a recent grocery shop.

I might have raised an eyebrow.

“Thought we could have it on Christmas day.”

“We’re going to visit Mom on Christmas day,” I reminded him. “At the nursing home.”

As a blended family, Ric and I surrendered Christmas day a long time ago. As long as Ric’s Mom was alive, we’d pick her up and spend the day at a casino, usually ending up with a tuna sandwich in the restaurant. After she passed, Ric and I went alone. Then we started going south, avoiding the day altogether. But when Ric gets something in his head….

So turkey went into the oven as we headed out the door for the forty-minute drive.

What are you doing for dinner? A text from my younger sister.

Ric’s cooking here if you want to come.

They never come. My family of origin doesn’t do holidays anymore. It’s just the way it is.

We’d love to come if it’s not too much work.

We visited Mom, and our eldest daughter showed up with two of our granddaughters. We exchanged gifts and ate goodies, and then moved on to visit my older sister – also in the nursing home. More gifts passed hands.

I texted D as we headed home. Fog had set in. She was worried about it.

Back at home, Ric busied himself with prepping the rest of the meal, and I rested. At five, the doorbell rang. There was my younger sister and her husband bearing gifts.

I can’t remember a Christmas dinner tasting so good. Maybe it was the conversation, or just the sheer joy of sharing it with family.

It’s never too late, I realize, to start new traditions.

Tonight my heart is filled with gratitude, and I am hopeful.

(Thursdays are currently dedicated to gratitude. Image from personal collection.)

"It's the Best!"

“Wait till I tell my Mom I’m having hot chocolate for dinner! Do you have marshmallows, too?” she’d excitedly asked the waitress.

“No marshmallows, but we have whip cream.”

“Oh yum!”

Children are so easy to please. I’d been in emergency all day, but didn’t want to cancel plans, so Ric picked her up from school and we three went to a local diner for early supper.

Able to read her own menu now, her eyes lit up at the sight of her favourite beverage. No vegetables touched her plate that night, a sin her mother is sure to scold me about, but in light of the day I’d had, I just wanted to soak in her joy.

Afterwards, we drove around to see the Christmas lights and then home for some television, a snuggle, and bed. All pretty low key.

“Staying at Grandma’s is so so fun!” she told her sister when they came to pick her up the next morning. “You get treats, and to stay up late.”

Don’t worry Mom, she didn’t even finish the hot chocolate.

As for me – my cup was overflowing.

(Thursdays I dedicate to celebrating the blessings in my life, which often translates to sharing Grandma stories. Can’t help it. They are the best, through my eyes.)

Candid

I vowed I wouldn’t show photos of people on screens for this challenge, but then I couldn’t resist the serious look of these two cousins ” Just watching something, Grandma.”

A family walk is much more satisfying – at least from my perspective. Then I caught this fellow and I couldn’t help but sneak a photo – purely jealousy driving my actions.

Lens-Artists Challenge this week is candid.

Big Little Blessings

A 6:15 a.m. phone call changed my life: “Hello Grandma…it’s a girl!”

There is no describing the thrill. I packed a hasty bag and drove the hundred kilometres in record time, scooping up that little bundle immediately on arrival. Her little tongue moved in and out rapidly as her gazed fixed on mine. I could tell we had so much to catch up on.

A year later, I would be present for the birth of another granddaughter, and then a third would be arrive.

Being a grandmother is the blessing jackpot!

Best of all – there are more to come.

Extended Blessings

Children grow up, establish new lives, and if we’re really lucky they bring home new members to add to the family.

I have been doubly blessed with the addition of a son and a daughter-in-law.

I can’t say enough about them, and I’m sure they’d kill me for posting their photographs, but it’s my blog and I’m going to do it anyway.

Mr Dad over here is a warm and loving partner, and an excellent father. He is bright, accomplished, funny, athletic, and quite crafty. He also makes me feel very welcome any time I visit.

My daughter-in-law is spunky, smart, caring, and any time I get to spend with her is such a gift.

If you are counting, that is two out of five – so no doubt there are more additions to come.

I’m open. There is no limit on blessings is there?

(Featured image is a sample of Mr Dad’s woodworking skills.)

Blended Blessings

Marrying for the third time entailed blending families – not always an easy task. I had three; he had two – bookends to mine. Falling in love is one thing, but the chances that all parties will be enthused about the idea is another.

Ric’s oldest, a son, was already an adult when we met, and had his own life, so our choices really didn’t affect him. Same with my oldest daughter.

Ric and Erika

The three youngest ones, however, were still at home. We had differences in parenting styles. Being critical of each other was a quicksand pit we tried carefully to avoid, but it wasn’t always easy. Developing trust and respect, and a genuine fondness takes time. I’m pleased to say, we made it.

More than that, as a stepmother, I’ve gained a new role that enriches my life in many ways. While I refer to Erika as “our daughter”, our relationship falls outside the mother/daughter framework. She has a mother, and doesn’t need me in that role. Not sure what you’d call it – role model, friend, alternate source of support.

Whatever it is, I count it as another blessing.

Our gang