we were kindly invited to some christmas festivities by a couple of daves colleagues.
the holiday weekend was whisper quiet around the city. students had gone home, and it seemed that the rest of the inhabitants left the city for more rural relatives. the stores were much more focused on being closed for the holidays than they ever are in the u.s. and i was terrified of having day after day of nowhere to go with X...enter daves work colleagues.
colleagues isabelle and djordje invited us to their place christmas eve. they dont have family in the country and they live out in a fairly isolated (yet beautiful) stretch of the coast south of us. it was nice to still get that feeling of people coming together over the holidays, even though we werent with family. we love being invited to their home because they are such knock out hosts and they love to cook for people. it was to be an indian curry meal and isabelle had planned a chicken/peas/rice side dinner for X (so nice of them).
however, issues cropped up. first, i had a lovely headache. second, their house isnt super kid-friendly. they are very kind and relaxed about it, but of course we felt like we had to hover over X and watch her like a hawk, so it was hard to actually socialize. third, there was a miscommunication about my dietary needs. i still cant do dairy and soy because of X (and even nuts are a bit iffy late in the evening). well...every single thing they made had dairy in it, except the rice. i had water, rice and Xs leftovers for dinner that night. our hosts were horrified by their mistake and i was trying to suck it up in the largest way i possibly could so that they didnt feel an ounce worse than they were already making themselves feel. and finally, we had also mistakenly given X too many apricot pieces (while snacking) that day so she was busy pooping herself silly while at their house, and then crying about the pain that the poop was giving her butt. ugh, what a combination. happily, we managed to keep our cool and made the best of the visit though. we really do like to see these people, however, i fear they will need quite a few months to get over that experience.
and then came christmas day. even more silent and ghost town-ish around our area. daves boss had invited us over for some christmas libations and snacks around 3p. this was very kind of them and of course we welcomed the idea of having anything to do on christmas. their gathering involved their daughter and the wifes parents (who we actually knew because they gave us a dresser when we first moved in to town). they have a nice, old, non-ostentatious house, and being filled with christmas decorations and family made it all the homier. also, meeting their daughter for the first time was nice, she was very kind and paid attention to X, even gave her some of her childhood books (she just graduated from college). X was entertained for a while, but there was enough activity going on that she wouldnt settle and so i was chasing her around the house...and then the snacks and drinks came out.
drinks in flutes and plates of food that were X no-nos were all perched precariously down at her level, and suddenly it was no fun to be there anymore. she wouldnt eat the snacks i had brought for her and she marched right up and swiped some dairy-based seafood cocktail dip off the daughters plate. ugh. i packed her up. i was a bit sad to leave (dave stayed behind, since we only live across the street) because the wifes parents are really interesting elderly people. they seem to be active in the community, well-educated, well-read, and comfortable moving along with the changes each new decade brings. there was no sentiment of "in MY day things worked like this" in the way they talked and they didnt just talk about the weather or tv programs. i was fascinated (i want to be like them when i am old). most grandparent aged people in my experience (im talking 75+ here) dont talk like them. anyway, i left early with X, but it was nice to be around these people for a little while on an otherwise quiet sunday holiday.
so that was our christmas weekend. it was really nice to have been invited in to peoples homes during a time that is usually so family-oriented. this is the kind of thing im really interested in doing (whenever we get settled somewhere). i love the idea of a makeshift "family" coming together during a holiday, so that no one is alone. people who cant afford to get home to distant family, people with little or no family, or whatever other reason might bar people from being able to partake in a more "traditional" holiday celebration. id love to be the house that people gather at. dave and i have small families anyway, and they are never all going to be in the same place at the same time, so our table (should we chose to stay home for whatever holiday) would always be mostly empty. this doesnt need to be a sad thing though. we can fill it with friends, colleagues, neighbors, etc. and that way we can always have a warm, interesting, and memorable holiday meal. i find this to be very appealing in lots of ways, one being that X (while perhaps not having a house filled with siblings) would then experience a full house on at least certain occasions.
a final note about our christmas weekend: these experiences reminded us of our constant battle with socializing and dealing with Xs food issues. we dont want to isolate ourselves and not go out. we dont want to put people out to conform to our dietary needs. we dont want to offend people by packing meals for myself and X and eating our food at a table where we've been invited over specifically for dinner. its hard, and awkward, and we never know how to deal with it. no matter what, something always makes the meal challenging. we dont want to put Xs comfort down the scale of priorities but we dont want to come in to someone elses space and make the food issues take over. i think i could try to paint the picture of our frustrations and dilemmas surrounding this issue for pages and pages and i still wouldnt get it right. so, i think i'll stop there.