My granddaughter taking a photo of me while I'm taking a photo of her!
Jasper National Park
My oldest granddaughter just arrived home for Christmas!
This darling girl has just graduated from the Forestry Tech program at college.
She took the accelerated 2 year program in just under 14 months, worked a part-time job to pay her own way, all the while dealing with a relationship that was ending and STILL maintained a 3.7 GPA.
She's an amazing child, simply amazing.
Last Christmas, I took a last-minute flight to the other side of the country to help her move to her own apartment. I also wanted to be there to make sure she had someone who loves her there for Christmas, and most of all, to give her tons of hugs and support. We spent the week together...packing, moving, crying, hugging...and eating scrambled eggs and toast for Christmas dinner.
I think it helped her to maintain some semblance of calmness and sanity in a very stressful situation. I know that I felt enormously better about that Christmas, while eating our scrambled eggs Christmas dinner in her apartment than I would have if I'd been sitting in my own home with a full-blown traditional turkey dinner and the rest of my family around the table. A simple thing...she needed me.
After spending a few days with my son in another city, I flew to Ottawa and my granddarling met me at the airport. I had called her earlier and asked her to pack her fancy-dancy clothes and her warm, snuggy outdoor clothes, because we were going to do something magical.
As we left the airport, I played navigator while she drove into downtown Ottawa.
"I think I'm lost, darling," I sighed. "Where are we?"
"Well, that is the Parliament Building over there, Grandma. Does that help?" she replied.
"And...what is this huge place beside us?"
"Ohhhh, Grandma, that's the Chateau Laurier! It's a beautiful old hotel...," she said, wistfully.
"The Chateau Laurier? Really? THAT'S where we are going! Pull up to the front lobby entrance, darling!"
I will always remember her face when she realized that I was serious. She actually lit up! Smiling from ear to ear, she exclaimed, "HERE?" We're staying here?"
I felt like Santa and the tooth fairy, rolled into one.
We checked in, unpacked and then took a long leisurely tour of this gorgeous old hotel. Because it was Christmastime, there was a Festival of Trees in the foyers and lobby of the Chateau Laurier...beautifully-decorated and lighted Christmas trees everywhere we went.
Chateau Laurier Festival of Trees...
That night, we went to the lounge, ordered martinis and just hung out together, me listening and her talking. Before we knew it, we'd closed the place down! Yikes, a grandmother taking her granddarling to the lounge and staying there until they asked us to leave! What kind of grandmother am I? A pretty good one, according to her!
Over the next few days, we spent hours doing whatever we liked. We spent nearly a full day in the National Gallery, soaking up all of the incredibly beautiful displays in the various halls and rooms. Shopping took up another afternoon and finding great places to have lunch and dinner ate up the rest of our time.
I think this beautiful Ottawa escape was just the medicine she needed to feel like herself for a few moments. After it was over, we carried on with the nitty-gritty of packing and moving her belongings to a friend's home, looking for an apartment for her that was affordable, talking into the night about the whys and hows of this process of ending a relationship.
So, this Christmas is a 180 degree difference from last Christmas...she's home, surrounded by her family and friends who adore her and she has a wonderful guy with her, who also adores her. Nothing better than that.
We've already had a good long heart-to-heart on Friday and there is the promise of a movie-and-popcorn night before she goes back to her new home and her new life. I'm looking forward to that. I'm also looking forward to hearing about their new home together and about the apartment's location overlooking the river...they can see across the river and into Quebec from their second floor apartment! That's pretty cool to this little girl from a small town in northern Alberta.
So, she's home, and we're all overjoyed to see her. It doesn't matter how old these grandchildren are, I still feel totally protective of them and I worry about them when life throws them a curveball. Some things never change...I still feel that way about my children, also!
"The best baby-sitters, of course, are the baby's grandparents. You feel completely comfortable entrusting your baby to them for long periods, which is why most grandparents flee to Florida."
~ Dave Barry
The day we arrived...in the foyer of the Chateau Laurier