Christmas Time in Illinois

Christmas Eve Morning

It was so amazing to have my nephew in the house and my other siblings and their significant others.

Christmas Eve Shopping

We have this tradition on Christmas Eve. We run out to a few shops, have lunch, and go to Sam’s Club. In the past, it had just been me and Mom (occasionally, B would tag along).

This year, it was my mom, me, Monkey, and my sister in law. I was surprised Monkey wanted to go with us.

We went to Kohl’s. It is my favorite place to go when I am home for Christmas (for shopping). They have a crazy clearance section. I was getting summer clothes for only a couple of US dollars each. Most of the clothing I bought there I am able to wear right away when I return to Hong Kong.

Shops in the US are a shock after being in Hong Kong for a few years. Sam’s Club is unreal. The shopping carts alone were just insane. In Hong Kong, we have a basket you can carry that you put on to of a special cart to carry it. The use of plastic bags hurts my brain now after living in a place that doesn’t do that. The amount of waste just seems crazy (don’t get me wrong, Hong Kong is insane with waste. A package of crackers will be individually wrapped).

Then you have Sam’s Club where you can buy just about anything under one very (VERY) large roof.

Our last stop was JoAnn’s Fabrics. Heaven. So much heaven. Look at all of that yarn. One of the things I miss the most are the massive craft stores like this one, Hobby Lobby, and Michael’s.

Christmas Eve Present Opening

Our tradition is to open the gifts from each other on Christmas Eve. That’s 8 of us kids plus significant others and then my three kids and my brother’s one.

We were still waiting for a couple of my siblings to arrive. My brother and his wife were not able to come though because my brother had to work. So I guess that would be 7 of us in the end.

We waited for the next day to open our gifts and let the kids open their gifts.

It was so much fun to watch my nephew open his presents. He is such a sweet tornado.

Monkey was still included as a kid this time even though she is technically an adult (still really not used to that). She thought that was quite funny. I did not.

Other than the random messages from B about his shame and loneliness, I was able to enjoy (truly enjoy) the time with my family. I didn’t have to worry about him and the tension. I know it had to suck for him, but whenever he started feeling bad for himself, all I could think in my head was, “what did you expect to happen?”

I don’t know. I don’t know what he wants from me. I don’t know why he wants anything from me. He has proved perfectly well he can find himself someone else. Why does he need to keep bugging me?

Milk and Cookies for Santa

I got my nephew this super cute mug with a slot for a cookie to put milk and cookies out for Santa. Little Man was totally into it. Grandma and Mom helped him get it ready. He did try to take a cookie for himself, but that was quickly squashed as it was quite late.

Christmas Morning

My mom is crazy with gifts. She was wrapping presents up to almost the last minute. So it was decided that Little Man could open his presents from his parents first. They put all of the presents under the tree in my mom’s forbidden room (forbidden because we were not really allowed out there).

We sat out there and watched him open his gifts. Lots of tractors and construction equipment this year. He loves all of that stuff. He wanted to play with it all! Unfortunately, Mom and Dad only let him open two because everything still needed to be transported to the next state over where they live.

My sister in law has been absolutely amazing with Monster. Like I can’t thank her enough for everything she did. She brought a bunch of these craft kits with her to do with Monster. It is one of Monster’s favorite things to do. She sat with Monster, giving her her undivided attention (hard to do with a tornado of her own).

This Christmas was hard for Monster to understand. No matter how many times I explained to her that B wouldn’t be spending Christmas with us, she just didn’t understand or believe me.

Sister in law went out of her way to distract Monster from missing B. She still did, but at least she spent less time worrying about it.

Opening Presents From Each Other

My family. They are absolutely amazing. I am so blessed. My parents are incredible. They are generous and loving and caring. They love my kids so fiercely.

They are funny and fun. They are incredibly entertaining. They make me laugh. It makes me extremely happy when I see sparks of my brothers and sisters in my kids. My siblings are incredible people.

Christmas Presents

My mother. She is ridiculous when it comes to Christmas. She goes all out. She goes out of her way to give each and every one of us an amazing Christmas. That is three girls and five boys in my family. Plus two significant others and four grandchildren. Lastly, my father.

There was so much I couldn’t do this year because of everything that happened with B. My mom went above and beyond for us.

My sister in law, S was a huge help to my mom during the Christmas rush to get everything done. She also fits into our family really well.

She found random stuff in my mom’s room my mom had bought and wrapped it. We had this running thing about being a good “helper tiger” because of a show my nephew watches. S was a good helper tiger and wrapped up some coin wrappers for my mom.

One thing I really wanted for Monster was a weighted blanket. It was expensive, so my mom bought it for her. It has, by far, been Monster’s favorite gift.

Christmas Night

That night, B was pushing me to spend time with the kids. He missed the kids. I talked to him about maybe meeting him halfway and he would take the kids to a movie. The kids wanted to see him too. I didn’t want to keep the kids from him on Christmas, but I also knew it would not go well if he stepped foot in my parents’ home.

I struggled with all of this because most of what had happened for him to see the kids was initiated by me. He didn’t do anything other than cry about how unfair things were.

Christmas eve, he told me it was unfair he didn’t have the kids half of the time. I sent a calendar out to him a few weeks before the trip asking for him to plan out his time with the kids. Even when he landed, he didn’t know where he was staying. He was bouncing between his sister’s house and his friend’s house. It was up to me to propose him getting time with the kids.

Christmas day, I told him I would try to get the kids out to him that night. He could get a hotel room and spend the night with them. I would get them in the morning because we had plans the next day.

He started driving towards my parents’ house and planned to pick us all up. I told him no.

This resulted in just … pain and torture. He wanted me to stay as well. And honestly, if I wanted to kids back in time, it was my best bet.

My mother was angry that I would consider it. I was torn because it was just being pulled in multiple directions. My kids wanted to see their father.

In the end, I took the kids to a neighboring town to a hotel he booked. Bub was sick with a cold, so I stayed with him while B took Monster and Monkey to a movie.

In the morning, we had breakfast. I left with the kids in enough time for our plans the next morning. B thanked me for doing that. I think my mom was still disappointed in me when I returned in the morning, but I did what I had to do.

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