It has been a whole week since I posted. Not sure, but that may be a record. I would have to check the dates to be sure. Well, Christmas Eve was lovely. We all got dressed up and had a little party. I bought fun, frozen finger food and a cake. We sang "Happy Birthday" to Mark and played games like charades. We sang Christmas carols while Sam accompanied us on his keyboard. Then we watched G-Force which Uncle Kale and Aunt Dimi sent us.
Christmas morning was the usual. Lots of paper everywhere and the kids all excited. William was disappointed that he didn't get a game for his Nintendo DS. How could I explain that I couldn't bear to pay $50 or more for a game (when you factor in the exchange rate and absurd taxes) when I knew in a few weeks we could get it from Target for much less? After all, Santa doesn't buy the toys, Mom. He MAKES them! After a little while, he was happy with what he got. I assured him there were still presents to get from his grandparents. After Mass, there was more time to play and relax. I cooked a ham in Coca-Cola and it turned out great. We had a late lunch then a movie fest. The next morning, Anne told me, "I wish we could re-live that Christmas one more time." I had really tried to be sure this English Christmas would be a happy one for the kids. Anne's comment made my heart smile.
The next few days, I had gotten into such a lazy mode. I guess you could call it a funk. I was tired of always being chilly, having to walk to town for anything. I kept thinking I would be happy to NEVER leave the house again until it was time to go home. We were in this no man's land- able to count the days until we go home but if we really did nothing, it would be quite a long, miserable stretch of time. It didn't last very long because we would rally and watch a movie together or play cards. The kids would start their own game and I would relish hearing them giggle and enjoy each other's company. It was a welcome relief to the "stop bothering each other!" ranting that goes on occasionally.
Yesterday, Emme and I were invited by a mom and her daughter that we met at church to visit Osborne House, Queen Victoria's home on the island. It was a gray, dreary day (Did I mention I am sick of those?) but we headed out, bravely. Osborne House was beautiful and we learned quite a bit about Queen Victoria and her family. She and her husband, Albert, had nine children. Unlike other monarchs, they took an active part in raising their children. They seemed to have a nice family life and Queen Victoria, although mourning the loss of Albert for many years, was blessed with many grandchildren and great-grandchildren in her old age. They loved Christmas and are considered the reason behind many British customs to this day. Albert was German and although he isn't credited with introducing the Christmas tree to England (Queen Charlotte, wife of George III- I believe was the one), he and Queen Victoria popularized the custom. She is the longest reigning monarch but Queen Elizabeth only has a few years to surpass her. She died at Osborne House in January of 1901. Her story is truly amazing. There are two good movies you may enjoy- The Young Victoria with Emily Blunt and Mrs. Brown with Judi Dench. The latter was filmed at Osborne House so I am quite interested to see it.
After a cold, damp walk in the gardens, which Albert designed himself, we headed to the cafe. Hot chocolate has never tasted so good! I could drink hot drinks here all day. I have a beautiful Crabtree and Evelyn tea set at home which I am excited to use when we get back. I think an afternoon "cuppa"- very English term- is a tradition Mark and I will keep going. As a matter of fact, we have been talking a lot about what we will miss and what British things we will incorporate. I know many things will fade away once we are out of this context but one thing I know for sure, I will never make a grilled cheese sandwich again. It will always be called a cheese toastie. We just love that name. We will miss "lovely", "splendid" and "brilliant". We will miss having tennis courts in our backyard and the amazing view of the Solent from the front yard. We will miss the Cowes library. We will miss London. We will miss trying new biscuits, crisps and puddings. BUT...
We are excited to be going home to the Saints in the play-offs, Mardi Gras and king cakes. We are looking forward to playing in Audubon Park and going back to Holy Name. We can't wait to have Christmas dinner with both the Soulants and the Zeldens. What a treat! Not to mention, muffalettas, Hubig's Pie, Barq's root beer and snowballs. By the way, sunlight and warmer temperatures are very underrated. Looking forward to soaking up both.
Mark explored many possibilities here but nothing worked out. For now, it looks like God's plan is for us to be in the USA. We didn't sell our house, so we will be living there. Part of me is disappointed and sad, then I picture myself like a child who can never get enough. Instead of whining about how I wish I had more time, the only thing to do is be satisfied with what we have been given- an amazing adventure, regardless of the duration. Happy and grateful, that's me.
Two requests of you, my dear readers. First, please keep in your prayers Mark's client and friend whose son died in a car accident. They will bury him today and my heart aches for them. Second, please pray for safe travel for us next week. The recent terrorist attempt doesn't sit well when you are facing a transatlantic flight. Hope to post another time or two.
Happy New Year!