25.12.2012 - 25.12.2012 17 °C
This was not the Christmas morning we were expecting. Muriel was getting up to catch a plane back home to Victoria to be reunited with family to mourn the passing of her Dad.
Again, it may sound odd from the outside looking in, but we were happy in a way that due to lack of flights we had our Christmas Eve together. It really brought a lot of comfort and a measure of peace . We placed stockings on the kids beds (actually laundry bags filled with treats etc--they were clean laundry bags!) before we woke them up. We shared an hour together before I took Muriel to the airport. Muriel's flight left on time and hopefully she will be in Victoria at 8:30 pm on Christmas Day.
A new reality has also emerged. Due to our location and the holiday season and other logistics we cannot get back home for several days. Muriel, her Mom and I have been talking about this since we first heard the news. We are facing at what was at first an unthinkable decision of not coming home. Mom said from the beginning that she didn't want the grandkids spending Christmas in the middle of the turmoil. She wants them to remember Grandpa in a happier and healthier environment. There is little to be gained in comfort and closure by moving heaven and earth to find a way home. She asked that we stay put. An additional time of remembering for grandpa can be held when the time is truly right. Muriel says the silver lining is that she can be totally devoted to her Mom and and stay with her over the next few weeks and work things through. There is no real handbook for such situations. After much talk that has fully involved the girls we are honoring Mom's request and accepting the reality of the formidable barriers to getting home and will remain in Europe. Muriel will stay in Victoria for as long as necessary and rejoin us at some point. It really sounds surreal when I put it in print but it seems the best decision for us.
When I got home from the airport I couldn't believe what was in store. The kids who did all the grocery shopping yesterday, knowing there was no prospect of us getting out of Barcelona in the next two days, had prepared hors d'oeuvres including croquettes and other Spanish takes on such snacks. There was some champagne as well. We then went for a walk along the beach-it was a comfortable temperature but a bit hazy. We had the beach mostly to ourselves--I think most of the population was feasting with family. It was a very pleasant time.
In the days leading up to Christmas Muriel had sourced supplies for baking shortbread and making chocolate mint bark with pistachoes. The girls wasted no time and started baking. They did their own twist on the shortbread by dipping them halfway into melted chocolate. We had plenty of sweets to accompany Christmas dinner.
Hannah then announced she was going to single-handedly make Christmas dinner. She had bought some very nice steaks and prepared them perfectly along with roasted small potatoes, green beans with almonds and a whole whack of delicious homemade stuffing (with bacon and onions-my fav).
All these ingredients along with the kid's attitudes will make this a Christmas dinner I will never forget.
Right after dinner we had a group Skype call with my Dad, Sister, Brother and my brother's family. It was one of the nicest calls I think I have experienced. There was some real warm words of comfort and support and some good laughter and sharing. It was made a bit awkward by the contant loss of connection and quality problems but when half the world Skypes at Christmas and they don't have to pay to not only hear but see each other from half way around the world who can complain. Thanks family for making the call possible.
In the evening, for a little bit of nostalgia we watched the movie Polar Express. It was a nice pleasant escape and brought the atmosphere of winter into the apartment which helped it feel more like Christmas. Just before we went to bed I read the Christmas story. It was an appropriate end to a day that we made the best of. It looks like we are all going to be okay.