Friday, January 2, 2009

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year & Happy Birthday

I hope & pray that you had a Happy Christmas, and that your new year will be filled with goodness.

Gregg, David and I had a happy holiday. The long "silence" here was due to several factors. The snow is the first one. My parents came up from their winter home to visit with family and friends for Christmas, and they moved into our house on Christmas Eve day, due to several snow-caused power outages at their place; that's the second factor. The third is the fact that we hosted a party in our home on Christmas day for about 40 of our family (Gregg has a lot of relatives). There was so much snow on the ground (and so little official snow removal) that it was kind of a miracle that people were able to come. We shared a wonderful potluck of appetizers, dessert and beverages (thanks for the suggestion, Andrea!), which made preparations for the party easier on everyone. We had a happy celebration, catching up with one another & marveling at the changes in the little ones. {One of the greatest gifts was getting to see our nephew, Phil, who lives in the Bay Area of Calif. now. It was wonderful to hug him!} Later in the evening, we were joined by our neighbors, who brought a HUGE bottle of one of my favorite wines to share, and a guitar. David & Alfonso did a little jamming with piano and guitar, and then my dad brought out his harmonica. Good times and lots of smiles. Unfortunately, since it was in our home, I (typically) didn't take any photos! I will post some if I receive them from others...

On the day after Christmas, we met my brother, Jim, and sister-in-law, Caroline at the airport, and set off on our way to Hawaii. We were celebrating my dad's 80th birthday, a little late. My dad turned 80 in March of 2007, when Katie was in the hospital (recovering from her 18-hour surgery). She was too ill to attend his party or take part in any festivities, and he refused to really celebrate his birthday until she could be part of it. His dream was to take us all on a cruise. Unfortunately, Katie never recovered enough to take a trip of any kind, and a few months after her passing, my dad became quite ill himself. He recovered, but has had other setbacks, and this is the first time that he has felt strong enough to take a long flight and enjoy a big trip. His choice was Hawaii, so we booked rooms in the Grand Hyatt in Poipu, Kauai.

I honestly don't look forward to taking trips, these days. I love to travel, to learn about other cultures, to see and experience new things; it's a gift, an extravagence, --and yet, sometimes a bit of a hassle-- so I have come to see travel as something that I don't "expect" to have in my life right now. Perhaps living away from home for all of those months while Katie was in the hospital has made me a bit more of a home-body, though I do enjoy a trip once I've embarked...and life continues to surprise me.

I didn't quite believe that this trip would really happen, so I was a bit amazed to find myself at the airport (after all of the snow, houseguests and the big party we'd hosted the day before), sitting in a nice lounge, drinking coffee laced with Bailey's Irish Cream, about to board an airplane and cross the Pacific Ocean.

We haven't been back to Hawaii since our honeymoon on Maui (nearly 18 years ago), and we've never been to the island of Kauai. David hasn't been to the tropics before. We were all invited to go with friends to the Cayman Islands in the summer of 2007, but we found out that Katie's cancer was back --and that she was going to pass away-- just days before the trip was to take place, so of course it was cancelled.

The trip to Kauai was a gift from my dad & mom. The resort is hospitable with "the spirit of aloha," gorgeous, well-staffed, open-air, and right on the beach. We had wonderful meals in a variety of settings, were kissed by sunshine & warm, heavy tropical rain, had room to roam through lush gardens full of flowers, a series of pools, hot tubs, a waterslide and shoreline to enjoy, live music performances,
cars to use for exploring other parts of the island, and time to relax. David learned to body-surf and snorkel in the ocean; he had a blast.
It was a time to stop what I was doing, including writing or checking email, and re-start my mind. It took a few days to relax, but eventually, I felt free, fresh and cleansed.
Though I missed Katie sharply & deeply, wished she could be with us enjoying each of the special treats, and found myself crying a couple of times, I could --in some way-- feel her with us, as if she was on the other side of a paper-thin wall. We saw signs: butterflies, coins on the ground, rainbows, songs that held significance of her. Every small child, especially the little girls, brought her to mind. I wanted to hold them all.

We had a special dinner at a great restaurant for dad's birthday, and we sang to him. He even joined in the singing, providing the harmony.

We spent New Year's Eve eating dinner in a pavilion that was surrounded by tidepools, filled with swimming koi. After dinner, we listened to live music, and then walked down through the gardens to sit in a swing on the beach, watching a few fireworks and beachfires, and looking at the bright star light.
Thank you, Grandma and Kappa, for including us in this great birthday celebration. We will always treasure it.


Kay said...

What an incredible holiday and trip! I'm so glad you were able to make this trip with your family. So beautiful!

Your snow pics looked so pretty as we've been wearing shorts some this Dec and today too. C.R.A.Z.Y. weather.

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Wow! You've had a wonderful couple of weeks, my dear! I knew, of course, about the snow in Seattle... both from the news and from Laura's blog. I know it was beautiful, but also a huge hassle to deal with. But your big party sounds likea wonderful treat!

And Hawaii! I've only been once (to Oahu and Maui) but I was completely smitten and look forward to the day that we can go back and take our children! The pictures are SOOO beautiful... and you do look SOOOO relaxed, cleansed and refreshed (!!).

A wonderful way to start the New Year! Happy 2009!

"2009 will be sublime"
(this is my new affirmation... a bit corny, but I'm working on my new ones for the year!)

Maggie said...

You all look so relaxed and happy! I'm glad you were able to go, and I'm glad you're back...we missed you!

Smileygirl said...

Welcome back! I've missed you.

I'm so glad you were able to relax with your family and just enjoy the island pace for a while. I can't believe everyone made it to your house on Christmas. You have been going non stop!

And I knew you were going to find some heart shaped coral. Did you get my text before you left? Soooo happy for you.

Once you're settled we'll have to plan for a get together soon. =)

Laurie Keller said...

Welcome Home, Karen. I love knowing you were somewhere tropical. The photo of you laughing is a beautiful sight. May your 2009 be filled with things that make you laugh like that some more. Lots of love your way.

Contemplative Photographer said...

Oh, YAY! I'm so glad you were off having fun!

Anonymous said...


I have been a lurker for sometime now, but after this post I just had to leave a comment. I love Kauai, and Popui Beach is very special to my family. We have been going there for over 35 years and ended up in the Presidential Suite at that hotel after a series of unfortunate events there once. That was a fun trip, but we much prefer to spend our time there in Kiahuna in a Condo right on the best beach ever.

Postcard Cindy

Karla W. said...

I'm so glad you posted. I've been thinking a lot about you and you're family lately. Your Christmas and trip to Hawaii sound wonderful. :)

Jennifer Stumpf said...

How very lovely. I'm happy for you, for your trip, for your bond with your husband, son and parents, and for the ever graceful way your honor your daughter and her memory.

I am off to Italy tomorrow to enjoy the experience with my husband. We have one week to take it in, what a rush!

This comes with all my best wishes for a peaceful and happy 2009. You are in my thoughts. =)

Busy Bee Suz said...

What a beautiful gift you have there...that wonderful family and such happy parents. I love all the really do look great Karen! I know Katie was there with you...she will always be with you.
Take care.
I hope 2009 brings all wonderful things to you and your family.

Dawn~^i^Brandon^i^, Jordan, and Seth's mom said...

Oh Karen,

What a special special time. I am glad that even in the missing, you were able to truly enjoy the wonderful things God set before you. Jordan is now heading back out your way, now with the Christmas break over.

Keep pressing in!

Aaron said...

I read your message in our journal and I must say, I would love to talk to you sometime. Please email me so we could talk.
Thanks and I look forward to talking with you. If you prefer to call please call 906-932-4195 Aaron Ruotsala

Jason, as himself said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed the holidays. You deserve some joy, and it is so important to keep moving even though it hurts so much to do it without the one you lost.

You all look so happy.

Clippy Mat said...

And you have such a beautiful family. Glad you enjoyed this all together. :-))