The end of each year, from Thanksgiving to New Years Day, brings with it a lot of family time for pretty much everyone we know. For the first couple of years of recovery, this family time was fraught with trauma and anxiety. Some people know about Blue Eyes’ secret life, but many do not. I don’t like keeping secrets and not being able to share all of me, all of how I feel. I am a sharer and a talker. I have mentioned before that my parents divorced when I was six years old. They were very very young at the time and they both remarried the following year. I basically have two families, plus my husband’s family. During his first year of recovery, Blue Eyes went no-contact with his family. But I still have my family to deal with, emotionally, physically, every which way. My Dad’s big family gets together up north amongst themselves mostly and we rarely join in (although we are ALWAYS invited). Most years my Dad and Step Mom drive down to see us (and hopefully the boys if they are both home) sometime over the holiday. Often we have very little notice, which can be a bit stressful, but we oblige.
Then there is my immediate family, the one I spent the bulk of my childhood with. My mother, step father, sister (T) with borderline personality disorder (I hate to use that moniker for her, I don’t mean it to be negative, just real) and GQ… who has lived in Tokyo for the past 23 years. The “holidays” have been a bit wanky since d-day. Continuing on the happiness post, this is the first year I have genuinely enjoyed the entire holiday break and felt no trauma. Even though I put myself in charge of both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals (all of them, for basically 12 people) at the beach house (which we are still purchasing basic items for) and we were just two days home from our Japan Trip (I slept on the plane for the first time, ever, and so jet lag didn’t devour me for a week), it turned out okay. Good. Great even.
Arranging flowers and cooking are two of my favorite things. I love putting together the holiday centerpiece and I always purchase way too many flowers so we end up with lots of arrangements all over the house.
The kids made dinner the first night we arrived to the beach house, the night before Christmas Eve. I love that my kids love to cook too.
The other thing the kids did for me was purchase a Christmas tree. So, we are in fact not Christian. Me (I converted in 1989), my husband, and my boys, all Jewish. The Pragmatist’s girlfriend, who was visiting, is also not Christian. We don’t ever have a Christmas tree in our home. The thing is though, the rest of my family IS Christian and since GQ wanted to celebrate Christmas at the beach and the little Princess would be opening lots and lots (AND LOTS) of presents, I knew we needed a tree for those presents to sit under, and Christmas trees are pretty! The kids picked out the cutest noble fir at a Christmas tree lot on December 23rd. I’m shocked they found such a nice one. I purchased a Christmas tree stand, and all felt, cloth, and wood ornaments, for practical reasons. At both of my favorite grocery stores they carried the cutest little felt animal Christmas Tree ornaments and I snatched up as many as I could find at 50% OFF, because I was shopping on December 23rd! Such luck!
Most of the little cloth animals ended up towards the bottom as The Princess is really not quite 36″ tall, and she wanted to hang them ALL! In this photo are merely the presents left for the Princess to open Christmas night (Third round of present opening for her). She opened the first round on Christmas Eve, and the Second round on Christmas Morning. Nope, not spoiled, AT ALL!!!
Now, when I say I was responsible for dinner for twelve for two nights, I’m not joking. I was SO busy preparing and making sure everything was ready to eat all at the same time (we actually plated both meals), there are no pictures. I KNOW! I couldn’t believe I forgot, BOTH NIGHTS! Christmas Eve dinner consisted of Lemony Brussels Sprouts with bacon & bread crumbs (Brussels Sprouts Recipe)
Strozzapreti Pasta tossed with a sauce of olive oil, fresh tomatoes, garlic, spinach, and parmesan (I made this recipe up on the fly)
and THE most delicious Ora King Salmon from New Zealand (shout out to Paula, my favoritest Kiwi). Honestly, it was the most decadent salmon I have ever had. I simply salted and peppered the fillets and baked until medium (12 of them, ouch this was an expensive Christmas 🙂 ).
I did photograph the desserts as I did not make them and by the time we ate them, all the fussing around was done and I had a chance to breathe, and snap photos.
Thankfully, for Christmas Dinner I had some helpers. The three “kids” put together an elaborate cheese and meat tray with nuts, olives, stuffed peppers, jams and crackers… it’s one of my favorite appetizers for a large crowd. They did a fantastic job shopping for the meats and cheeses and putting the boards together. Again, no time for photos, but here is a photo of my simplified Thanksgiving version from November:
The actual dinner started with a salad of butter lettuce, cucumber, avocado, and then topped with butter braised lobster tail and citrus and tarragon vinaigrette (Bon Appetit Recipe). GQ just loves to pick out recipes from Bon Appetit for me to make while he is visiting. Their kitchen in Tokyo is teeny tiny, so my brother takes this opportunity to eat all the recipes he looks up and drools over all year. Lucky me!!!
The Pragmatist also helped by watching over the Rib-Eye Roast and cooking it to perfection at medium rare.
We served it with a caramelized onion and shallot dip:
Our starch side was so simple, roasted new potatoes with shallots and garlic. Easy Peasy!
And the creme de la creme… for dessert, an annual Christmas Day tradition for at least 10 years
And in amongst all this eating, we took amazing walks on the beach
So, GQ does not know about Blue Eyes and his secret life and his recovery from addiction. And for the first time in nearly four years, I am fine with that. He won’t understand. He won’t get it. I’m convinced it would change relationships and I don’t want to do that.
The people who need to know about Blue Eyes’ addiction, and my trauma recovery, know. And they have been wonderful. I feel very lucky to have them all in my life… the ones that know, and the ones that don’t.
After everyone left, the boys took the leftover beef ribs and made a broth and we enjoyed some very tasty Vietnamese Style Pho for a nice, sorta light dinner. I didn’t have to cook or clean and so it tasted like heaven to me!
And as it goes, when the New Year rolls around, people need to go back home and off they go, and we miss them terribly when they are gone.
This post is much more reminiscent of posts I used to write for my personal family blog. I’m glad to be back to a place where I feel so much joy from life, and I feel like writing about things that have nothing to do with sex addiction or betrayal trauma. It doesn’t mean all that is behind us, it just means that a lot of the really tough stuff is metabolized, filed away under HUGE life lessons learned, and I feel lucky to be saying hello to a new year. Welcome, 2018.