We are home after an amazing two week odyssey! We might be a day later than planned, and out of money, but we have recharged and made family memories that will last a lifetime!
We awoke before 8am EST to a bright, clear, sunny but cold day in Salem, and started to pack up the van with all of our things. When D’Arcy went to start it so it would be warm to transfer sleeping girls, he discovered that the battery was dead again! Kate was getting ready to leave for work, so we waited a few minutes until she left,so D’Arcy could coast out of their driveway and Willem could use his truck to give us a boost. We figured we’d probably have to stop along the way to get a new battery, and planned to drive as far as we could without stopping – just in case! At -14*C, we made the decision before we left to drive through Houlton and Fredericton, rather than Route 9 to Saint John like we did on our way. Going through Houlton means interstate and divided highway most of the way.
The girls did not want to leave and were quite cranky as we loaded them in to the car. They even refused to participate in the family dance party as we drove out of Boston, but were soon back to sleep.
We drove as far as Portland, Maine, before stopping so I could run in to a grocery store and restock the cooler for the drive.
We continued on, making a quick bathroom stop in Pittsfield, Maine, and then through the border in Houlton, Maine, with no problems. We made one more bathroom stop in Salisbury, New Brunswick, before finally arriving in Truro around 8:30. Rather than going straight home, we stopped at Canadian Tire to buy a new battery for the van since ours doesn’t seem to be charging well, and a snow shovel. Ka-ching. More expenses…
Since we’ve been on our journey and posting about it on social media, I have had a couple of friends contact me to say they had thought about doing a similar type of thing at Christmas with their kids, but didn’t know how they would react. I say go for it! If you ask our kids, each of them will tell you that the time we spent together during the past two weeks – when every day was family time – was far more meaningful than the couple of hours spent opening gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. I think as parents, we get wrapped up in trying to make perfect Christmas memories, but spend more time wrapping, shopping, cleaning, and cooking, than we do just being with our kids. On a typical Christmas, I am usually too exhausted by the time it arrives to truly enjoy the small moments. Evan took me aside the other day and said, “You know, I think this has been the best Christmas ever”.
I’m not saying we’re not looking forward to putting up our four trees and continuing our traditions again next year with our family and friends, but I think we will try to find a way to incorporate even one night away for the six of us into our Christmas vacation traditions from now on. For us, the focus of Christmas has never been on the gifts, but rather on hosting and celebrating our family and friends – we firmly embrace the “goodwill to all men” (and women and children) during the holidays. I resolve to focus less on the trappings, and more on the memories.
We would like to thank Don & Cathy and family in New Hampshire, Kate & Willem and family in Salem, and Phil & Susan in Portland, for welcoming us into your homes this Christmas. Not only did you make us feel welcomed and wanted, but you also went out of your way, going above and beyond to feed Olivia and keep her safe. Having six extra people in your home and at your table can be overwhelming and we are so appreciative of your generosity.
As we arrive home, we are bracing ourselves for the reality of real-life again. There are clothes to wash, groceries to buy, and bills to pay. Today, we pick up Alex’s exchange student from Brazil and one of the chaperones, who will be living with us for the next two weeks. D’Arcy & I need to prep for our new semesters, which begin tomorrow. (I have four new courses to teach.) The boys have an afternoon curling practice after two weeks off the ice to get ready for their first Canada Winter Games play-down which takes place in Shelburne next weekend!
It was fun while it lasted…