Christmas, at last.

This Christmas was so incredibly special. With Christmas 2020 being a social distanced affair, lacking the togetherness we so sorely needed, Christmas 2021 felt all the more profound. The hugs were stronger, the gatherings were richer, the laughs were louder and the food was sweeter. 

Of course, we're still in a pandemic, so we didn't take gathering for granted, but as every member of our families is double vaccinated (except the kids who have had their first dose) and we all tested negative 24 hours before seeing each other, we felt we could go on to be together. As my family lives eight hours from Montreal, it had been over two years since I'd seen my grandmother and the kids' great grandma. How incredible to lay eyes on her again! 

Here are some photos of our three gatherings, in black and white. First we went to Fonthill, a little hamlet in Niagara at the southern part of Ontario where I grew up and where my sister and her family live, along with my parents and grandma. My sister's kids are only four and five, so two years without seeing them felt like meeting a brand new niece and nephew! Our kids reveled in the reality of cousins and we had incredible drinks and food for the three days we were with them! Gifts the first night with my parents at their house, then on to Lisa's house for the next two nights, with my parents visiting daily to join for meals.

After Fonthill we headed to an Airbnb we rented in Kawartha Lakes, Ontario. Along with Brad's brothers Mike and Rob, we rent an Airbnb for five days and take turns receiving Brad's parents, who have both re-married. It's a really easy way to be able to see everyone without driving all over! The first two nights we were with Brad's mom and Bruce, her husband, then they left and Brad's dad and his wife, Deb arrived for two nights. Finally we had one night just the "kids" before heading back to Montreal. 

Since Brad's parents live in Quebec and Ontario and his brothers are both in Ontario, we always choose a halfway point for the Airbnb, though this year it wasn't super central. We were just happy to find a space with the pandemic rules and everything! I highly recommend the Airbnb approach if you're part of a mixed family navigating seeing several sets of grandparents/parents! Plus with everyone chipping in, it's very affordable.

We live far from family, so gatherings like this only happen once or twice a year, and obviously less due to Covid. What a beautiful and truly enchanted time together. I'm thankful that we were all able to stay healthy and safe during the week together, and that our relationships with these dear ones could pick up right where we left off two years ago. 

Christmas began with a generous gift from a Father, and we felt that spirit of love and generosity throughout the week. My sister and her husband Andrew hosted us with some of the most delicious food and drinks imaginable, our kids were showered with gifts from their aunt and uncles and grandparents, and we laughed until our faces hurt many times. Our hearts left that week on a high, and Christmas worked it's magic once again.

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