We flew to the States for Christmas and it was fantastic! Best decision I have made this year. Ok, not quite but damn close. We had to fly economy this time since I was paying and my little diva was not impressed. She didn’t understand why the seats didn’t move and she couldn’t get comfortable enough to sleep much which in turn kept me up most of the flight, but all-in-all she is a great traveler! I am so lucky.
We left on the 16th and flew to Tokyo and then non-stop to Dullus. It was a long trip, almost 24 hours, and we were really tired but I was so happy to be home I got over jet lag almost immediately –not sleeping on the plane seemed to help. I spent one week in MD to see friends and tie up loose ends (retaking written test for my expired drivers’ license, ordering new title, changing my insurance from owners to renters, paying bills, getting stuff out of storage that I should have packed in the first place, shopping for clothes and shoes, looking at mail, etc.) and one week in PA to celebrate Christmas with family. It was so great to be back and the best part was going by my old job and surprising all my old colleagues who had no idea I was in coming into town. People told me I was crazy to fly that far for only two weeks but I am so grateful we made the trip.
Coco saw her good friend and we surprised her teachers! They were SO excited to see her! Everyone commented on how tall she had gotten and how much she was talking. She visited her favorite bunny and fell in love with my friend’s adorable dog, Chulo. So did I. I wish I could get her a dog!!
Christmas with family was so wonderful. I was so happy to be home to be able to hug them and hold them and tell them how much I love and miss them (which they already knew but it was great to say it in person!) Coco loved being home, too. She was so incredibly good– in huge part because she had a steady diet of junk food and adoration. 🙂
Christmas eve we went to the 4:00 service and then to dinner with friends. She was so good in church, I was so proud. She asked to go to her school (Sunday School) but I reminded her that there wasn’t any Sunday School and she seemed OK with that. My mom thought it was a good idea to take her up to communion and she said she wanted to go so we did. I had her cross her arms to receive a blessing and she really liked that. After my parents and I took communion I told her it was time to go and she shook her head no. I whispered, ‘Come on, Pumpkin, we have to go’ and again she shook her head no. The cellist and other musicians were witnessing this scene and found it quite amusing but Coco was not budging. After the third request, she started to cry and I had to lead her out of the sanctuary in tears. We made it in for the tail end of the service and then headed to dinner. These Christmas eve dinners have been taking place for the past 30 years or so, since I was one of the young children. This year was special as I went as a mom. Coco looked beautiful in the gorgeous pink polka-dotted dress my mom picked up for her and everyone was excited to meet her.
After the dinner party, we came home Coco changed into her pajamas and I reminded her that Santa Claus was coming in the morning so she needed to get ready for bed. She really didn’t quite understand what was going on as I didn’t hype the whole Santa thing. I wasn’t sure I was even going to do Santa but she learned about him in daycare last year so she knew a bit about him. She didn’t know she was supposed to ask him gifts and we didn’t get around to visiting him in the mall but she went along with it, somewhat perplexed. I told her he was going to come to bring her some presents because she had been a good little girl and I showed her the email he had sent her. My friend Dawn (the bunny owner) told me about a site where a videoed message can be custom-made for your child from Santa so I made one for her. She sat on my lap as I played it for her and she listened wide-eyed and intently to everything he had to say. It was quite magical. Then we put out cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. For a few moments I wished we were in our own house, like when she had to hang her stocking on the tree instead of at our fireplace or when I couldn’t tuck her into her own bed. Admittedly, I had some momentary twinges of regret for having moving abroad during these magical Christmases of ages three and four, but I think she found it quite enchanting nonetheless.
We snuggled for a while and then I tucked her into bed. I was showing her pictures on my camera that I had taken of her that night and she turned to me and said, “Go to sleep, Mommy. Santa is going to be angry.” And with that she turned over and went to sleep! LOL The next morning she slept in til 10:00! I kid you not! That is how unaffected she was about the whole Christmas thing. She woke up and chatted with me and said she was hungry. She apparently had no recollection about her stocking or the gifts that were waiting for her downstairs! She was quite unfazed about the whole thing actually and I was happy– well, mainly about being able to sleep in!
We finally made it downstairs and the first thing she noticed was that the cookies, carrots and milk had disappeared. She was quite upset that they had been eaten even after I explained to her that they had been for Santa and the reindeer. She was still upset until I showed her the note that Santa had left for her and then she felt so happy about it and hugged the note saying, “I love you, Santa. So much.” It was all really quite sweet, especially considering she still hadn’t noticed any gifts!
The trip home? Now that’s another story. Our plane was delayed and then she didn’t get much sleep. We had to race to meet our connecting flight that was being held for us in Tokyo but Coco was exhausted and screamed and cried with every step and thanks to some kind strangers who pulled my carry-ons I was able to haul that 40 pound baby a few feet at a time to make it just before take off. We arrived back in Manila around 11pm on New Year’s Eve and made it back home just in time for a phenomenal fireworks display. I bathed Coco, put her to bed, heated up the coconut chicken the yaya had prepared and poured myself a glass of wine. I sat back and marveled at how truly blessed we are and reflected on all the things I want to do to make 2012 a great year