I had been dreading the whole holiday season ever since my Dad died in September.  I knew one thing and never changed my mind…I did not want to be in Grand Rapids.  I didn’t want to be in my childhood home, celebrating Christmas as I have for 60 years now that everything feels so starkly different.

After talking to my family, I asked my employers if we could “borrow” their lake house in Wisconsin.  They would already be in St. Maarten.  They graciously agreed.  It would be different and different was just what I wanted.

I packed some decorations, picked up my niece from Philly and we hit the road.  We arrived first and started decorating, (the rest came and left in shifts) and soon this was the view.

 It was 65′ and sunny for the first two days.  No snow, no ice on the lake.  Lots of room to spread out.


  
A few decorations to set the stage for relaxing and coziness.

The next two days looked like this…

 No problem.  We watched movies in the theater…


We spent an evening at the Kalahari water park which led to pictures on elephants…

 The adults ran out of energy before the kids did.  Leaving for he water park Rhys was still raring to go…


We decided no stockings or gifts except gifts for the kids.But we did a modified Swedish smorgasbord…

 Smorgasbord lite…no Korv.

The kids did their usual fabulous job of entertaining us…

  

I made it through the week until Facebook popped up with a picture of my Dad and Rhys from the previous Christmas.  My Dad is in a Santa hat, Rhys looks like a little tomte on his lap, leaning back so they were looking right at each other.  My favorite picture.  And then the tears came and came and came.

Christmas morning, the day we were leaving, we woke to this…

 Technically a white Christmas after all.

And those holidays, my Dad’s December 23rd birthday, which felt like a mountain to climb, passed.

We made it.  I made it.  In talking to my brother and sister-in-law, I realized they wanted to be someplace different as much as I did.

We’ll eventually go back to our time honored traditions but “different” was just right for this first season without them.

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