Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the year.
Our family Christmas party.
I am the youngest of five children... and among us, there are 21 grandchildren (including Darcy) and two "grandchildren-in-law." We are all very close and seeing our children love each other is the best feeling in the world. My oldest brother, Tom (Gavin and Hope's Godfather!) and his wife Jen hosted all of us for the afternoon and dinner. But before the party, we had a special visitor at our house! My sister, Meg, and her family wanted a private visit so they could meet Hope before the chaos of the party. It meant so much to me to have them here - and that they went out of their way to make this special visit. Hope - wearing her very first "outfit" for the party - loved her Aunt Meg instantly.
And Uncle Greg, who is a total mush for babies, got choked up when Hope opened her eyes and looked right at him. "I know what you're thinking," he said. "You've been waiting to meet your Uncle Greg your WHOLE life."
After he got his baby fix, he spent a lot of time playing with Brian - who was thrilled to tell him how to play his made up Star Wars/Pirate/Angry Birds game.
The real trip for me was watching my oldest niece, Emily - here with her husband, Josh - hold Hope. I actually see a resemblance between Emily as an infant and Hope. I'll have to dig up the photo.
Right before we left for the party, Hope had a wardrobe malfunction (She peed all over it which is quite a common occurrence! This NEVER happened with my TWO BOYS!! Go figure!) Everyone was anxious to meet and hold Hope. My niece, Julia, was one!
There were shades of sadness at the party - the same shade that follows me regardless of the day or occasion - as there were two people that were missed very much. My Dad and Gavin. This is our second Christmas without my Dad - and our first without Gavin. But we were also plus one an angel with the addition of Hope. It's tough to balance the emotions sometimes!
Here is Granny with all of her grandchildren...
Tom and Jen with Meghan, Julia, Tommy, Aidan, Jack and Isabella
Meg and Greg with Emily and Josh, Dan and Miranda, Hannah and David
Mike and Lisa with Jack, Lindsay, Mark and Sean
Bean and Jim with Shannon, Brendan and Claire
Our new normal...
It was such a lovely day. And I was exhausted by the time we got home. I'm not sure I can be responsible for anything I said in any conversation - I feel like I was incoherent much of the day. I'm pretty tired. I just had a baby - did you hear? Brian had a BLAST with his cousins and has been talking about it non-stop ever since.
The next morning, Brian wanted to immediately play with the toys he received from Granny, his cousin pollyanna and his Aunts and Uncles. We all sat on the kitchen floor with our breakfast - even Hope in her bouncy seat - and played "Don't Wake Daddy" - a gift from Uncle Mike and Aunt Lisa. It was really fun! Yeah, I really don't know why we sat on the floor and not at the kitchen table. I just had a baby - did I mention that? I'm a little out of it. In my defense, a kitchen floor picnic was kind of fun.
We spent the rest of the day playing with every single gift - a preview of Christmas day - and recovering from the party.
The next couple days are going to be challenging for our little family. First Christmas without Gavin. First Christmas with Hope. Granny will be here with us for a couple days, which will absolutely THRILL Brian. We've all made a pact to focus our energies on Brian and not let ourselves sink into despair over what we've lost. It's undeniable that we've gained so much as a family - despite our huge losses - and we are determined to keep that in the forefront this Christmas.
Hope and Love are all around us.
*** Exciting news!! Hope graduated from "weight checks" at the pediatrician this morning!! This past Friday, she weighed 6lbs, 2oz. Today (Monday) she weighed 6lbs, 12oz! Our hard work has paid off. Brian and I celebrated with a doughnut after her appointment. ***