This is a story. Not The Christmas Story, but our Christmas Story. We are blessed beyond belief that this continues to be a Christmas story that centers on two very happy boys and a very happy girl. It is a story of traditions passed down, and traditions in the making. It is a story of love, and fun, and learning. It is a story that has been told and re-told, and it is a story in the making. It is a story worth documenting, or, at least, trying to document in bits and pieces. And so I try to capture the essence of it as best I can. Knowing that it is just a small fraction, from just my own perspective, but knowing too that it is real.
The J-M Family Christmas has come to be a story in two parts. In large part, our Christmas is a trip— a trip to New Hampshire; a trip to MorMor and MorFar’s house; a trip to the Northern New England where Mommy grew up. As opposed to our New Hampshire summer trip of waterskiing and boating, this New Hampshire Christmastime trip is filled with snow and ice and skis and skates, pink cheeks and frosty mountain air. It is also a story of our Christmas— the things we do; the traditions we revere; the Swedish God Jul being handed down; the creation, and celebration, of an important holiday that anchors our year. This part of the story is of the deep history on the Johnson side of the family, of 2nd-generation-angels in pageants at the Freedom Church on Christmas eve, of wide-eyed-believing and wishes-come-true on Christmas morning, of Swedish sill and Swedish meatballs and Swedish butterhorns. Both parts of the story are, entwined together, what has become our J-M Family Christmas.
It is not all peaches and roses. It is not all snowy-white-wreaths and ear-to-ear frosty-breath smiles either. But the good parts are what our camera captures. Because that is what we purposefully focus our lens on. It doesn’t mean we don’t see the parts of the landscape that aren’t so gorgeous. We do. But we turn ourselves, whenever possible, to that glorious white-capped mountain view instead. And we put our hands on our kids’ shoulders and gently turn them in that direction too. Because with only one life to live, with only one Christmas when our kids are six and two, why on earth would we do anything else? And so, the J-M Family Christmas Story gets told in a particular fashion: admittedly, in a way that downplays the 2-year-old’s tantrums and the 6-year-old who pushed me to tears with his relentless pushing-of-all-boundaries, and the gory details of how the other 6-year-old threw up in MorMor’s toilet on the day before Christmas Eve. I could write about all that, but I don’t. I could also write about 100 blog posts on how much work it takes, on my part, to pull off this trip; on how Braydon and I fight each year over the imbalance in the workload; on the dysfunctional and sometimes ridiculously dramatic family dynamics that crop up each year around the holidays. Yes, I could write all that. But I don’t. Because at the end of the day, I am fortunate to say, for us the good far outweighs the bad. The story is, ultimately, a good and happy story. The life we’re living out is way too awesome to downplay. And so, we capture the good stuff and let the rest sift out. Because that is how we choose to live year-round, and Christmastime is no different.
For us J-Ms, the glass is half full. And when you’re at MorMor and MorFar’s house at Christmastime, your glass is always at least half full – literally and figuratively. There seemed to be an endless flow of eggnog and glogg and Pellegrino and pomegranate martinis this year. And that is something to celebrate!
And so, this is our 2010 Christmas Story in three parts— Part 1: The High of our Trip— Part 2: Snow and Ice and Other Things Nice (That’s What Our Winter Trip to New Hampshire is Made of)— Part 3: Christmas at MorMor and MorFar’s.
J-M Family Christmas, Part 1: The High of our Trip
Kyle and Owen learned to ski the Christmas that they were three years old. That made this year their fourth year skiing. It is their favorite part of our Christmas. They rank Christmastime skiing above all other aspects of Christmas, including presents, Santa, and everything else. We’ve always gone to King Pine each year (it is only five minutes down the road from my parents’ house, and perfect for little kids/families), but this year we decided to take it up a notch (a few notches actually!), and take the boys to Bretton Woods. This is (we truly believe), the crème de le crème of New England skiing. My parents graciously took Meera for a day so that the four of us could devote an entire day to skiing untied-down. We savored every single second and it turned out to be the “high” of the entire Christmas for every single one of us. Bretton Woods is a 90 minute drive north of my parents’ house. We got up early and hit the road. The drive, alone, would have been worth the trip. Seriously. It has to be one of the most scenic drives imaginable. And the skiing was unbelievable. A couple feet of base, and fresh powder everywhere. We even ate a fabulous lunch in the mountain-top restaurant (the boys got such a kick out of eating in a restaurant that you can only get to on skis and by chairlift!). And the exquisite beauty of it all~~~ Everywhere you turned it looked like a dream. It felt like we were skiing a fairy tale. It couldn’t possibly have been any better. (And, bonus!, there were no broken bones this year!!!) At the end of the day we met up with MorMor, MorFar, and Meera for dinner at Red Parka Pub (an old family favorite) on our way home. We got there to find a beaming Meera who had very much enjoyed her day of one-on-one time with MorMor and MorFar. It was really a highlight-of-our-year-day for all of the J-Ms. Both Braydon and I agreed it was each of our top skiing day ever (like, ever! individually, in each of our lives!). And for the boys it opened the door to a whole new chapter of skiing. A chapter that they wish they could read over and over and over again. And so, our day at Bretton Woods (although we only had our cell phone cameras with us) deserves a little set of photos unto itself: