Renee Whiting Photography-Santa Cruz, CA Photographer » Santa Cruz, CA Newborn and Child Photographer

Where’d December Go?

It seems like just yesterday it was Tuesday, Nov. 29th and we were headed home after a week in Cabo San Lucas. What a fabulous week it had been! Thanksgiving in Cabo with my family. I could not have asked for a more perfect week. Sunshine, tacos on the beach and my favorite people.

On the drive home (from SB to SC), my mind was going a mile a minute thinking of all I now had to do to get ready for Christmas. December is always a busy month and this one was gong to be no exception. Besides my “to-do” list of shopping, decorating and entertaining, I was busy thinking of my blog and “my twelve days of Christmas” blog idea.

It was still November, and besides a quick trip back to SB, a scheduled dinner party at our home and the usual get ready for Christmas routine, the calendar looked good. I was ultra productive the first week of December. I got caught up from being gone (mail sorting, bill paying, unpacking, laundry), transformed my home into Christmas and did a little shopping. Not bad. Tomorrow (Dec. 7) I’d head down to SB to be on Nana duty for a few days.

I loaded the car with bittersweet feelings that morning. I’m always excited for grand-baby time, but I was leaving on my husband’s birthday and he wasn’t coming with me. I wrote out his card, leaving it where I knew he’d see it (by the coffee pot) and got on the road. I usually don’t mind the 4+ hour car drive but today felt a little different. Maybe it was because it was his birthday or maybe I just had too much on my mind, but I was in a funk of a mood. Four hours in the car alone gives you a lot of time to think, and my mind was non stop. What gifts did I still need to shop for? What would I serve at our dinner party? Could we squeeze in one more dinner party to celebrate Christmas with our friends? When would I make Rocky Road and mail out our cards? And, I needed 12 ideas for my “twelve days of Christmas” blog posts. About an hour into the drive my husband calls. He tells me he has good news and bad news. I take the good news first. My nephew and his wife gave birth to their second daughter. A tiny little one and three weeks early, but perfectly healthy! Happy Birthday Adelia Grace! And the bad news….his Dad was not doing well. He’s been in failing health for some time, but it was looking inevitable that the end was near. Little did we know that the end would be within hours. Talking about an emotional roller coaster. One minute I’m thinking about spending time with my grand-babies or getting the meet baby Adelia and the next minute I’m swelling up with tears of sadness. I really just wanted to be with Ken, on his birthday, on the day his father passed away.

I spend the next three days in SB. I’m on Nana duty. Between phone calls and updates from Ken, I get all the baby snuggles I can, play with trucks & trains, make jars of holiday Chex mix, decorate a gingerbread house with B and take the final photo for my Christmas card.

Santa Cruz Child Photographer

I return home on Saturday evening, 12/10. My next few days are filled with a whole lot of prep for Wednesday nights party, making final arrangements for Papa’s funeral and preparing for the family to come home for an additional weekend. We offer to host the post-funeral family dinner at our home. Needless to say, this week was a whirlwind of shopping, cooking and cleaning.

Wednesday’s dinner party (Ken’s office party for 18) went off without a hitch. Fortunately I hired a kitchen helper (you’re amazing Erin!) and ordered a cake for dessert. I felt the need to top last years fondue party and I think I did it. I decided on a “grazing” style menu of heavy hor’d vourves. My tabled appetizers consisted of individual crab & shrimp cocktails, stuffed mushrooms, mini caramelized pear & gorgonzola pizzas, preschutto wrapped asparagus w/balsamic glaze, asian salad endive cups, and mini polenta cups w/italian sausage. In addition, we “passed” four signature appetizers throughout the evening: tomato soup shooters w/gruyere & caramelized onion mini grilled cheese sandwiches, individual ramekins of homemade mac & cheese, butternut squash w/ browned butter & sage, and ahi tuna sliders w/lemon aioli. Kristin of Sassy Cakes provided me with the most beautiful and delicious cake for dessert (salted carmel swirl). The champagne flowed as we toasted and honored our employees and celebrated winning another Brass Ring award.

Thursday, I clean, grocery shop, cook for Fridays family dinner and prepare for the family  to start arriving for the weekend.

Friday is Papa’s funeral. It was a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man. Late afternoon (after the service and reception), family starts arriving to our house. Have I ever mentioned that Ken is from a big family? I served chili, cornbread & salad to approximately 60 (immediate family members). Memories were shared, tears were shed and hugs were given. We’ll miss you Papa, but know that you are now with Grandma fishing along the river banks in heaven.

And then it hits……..THE FUNERAL FLU! One by one, about half the family (and a few others) came down with the stomach flu. I really did not have time to get sick (after all, I’ve just spent the past week cooking and cleaning and Christmas is a week away). I’m yet another victim, I got it. I went to bed feeling fine on Sat. evening and didn’t get back up until Monday morning.

YIKES, it’s now the 19th and I’m nowhere ready for Christmas. But, I’m the mom and I will not let my family down. I have 3 days before my family starts arriving home (again) for Christmas. I made my list, checked it twice and shopped and wrapped till I dropped. We managed to get our 250 Christmas cards in the mail, I made Rocky Road and once again grocery shopped.

This year it was truly a miracle to get it all done, but by the time our family all arrived home, I was ready for Christmas. Time to enjoy some time with my family and celebrate the true meaning of CHRISTmas!

Today is New Yea’s Eve and I’m writing this on a plane. We’re on our way home from Miami where my hubby and I spent a couple of days doing a whole lot of nothing. Thanks honey, for whisking me away for a few days of R&R, you know I needed it.


We’ll ring in the New Year with some good friends, then in the morning I fly out to Sun Valley for a couple of snow days.


My Christmas decorations? Still up. Maybe I’ll take them down next week.


My “twelve days of Christmas” blog idea? Well, there’s always next year.


Merry Christmas from My Family to Yours and may you be Blessed with a Happy and Healthy 2012.

Hopefully life will slow down a bit in 2012, but even if it doesn’t, I plan to hold on tight and enjoy the ride!

  • Jeri - January 1, 2012 - 11:11 am

    You are amazing! Somehow I doubt 2012 will slow down much, but am confidant you will be continue to be Nana, Mom, Aunt, Wife, sister, photographer, and FRIEND extraordinaire throughout…ReplyCancel

  • Meredith Rowlen - January 6, 2012 - 5:58 pm

    I LOVED my Christmas Card from you guys. I can’t BELIEVE how big your grandbabies are I remember us being SOOO excited about Beckett coming! :)
    So sorry to hear about your husbands father. :(

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