The holiday portion of our Christmas vacation is over and the new year is off to a decent start.

Things ramped up another notch last week. Our family from Denver flew in late Wednesday night for a brief visit. We picked them up at the airport after 11:00 pm. By the time the luggage was collected, we got home, and gave all the kids a snack, it was 1:00 am. And the kids all whined about having to go to bed. The power of hanging with your cousins, I guess.

Thursday night was our game night. Well, in theory it was. Rather than go to a bowling alley like we’ve done the last 2–3 years, we decided to move it back to our home and play board/card/table games. Everyone came over, we had pizza and conversation, but never really got to the games.

Saturday we took the kids to a local “indoor activity center” to burn off some energy. There were bounce houses, a rock climbing wall, and Euro-bungee – where the kids are connected by bungees to two arms that raise up and allow them to jump off a trampoline about 20 feet up. M and C had a great time doing that. L wasn’t so sure at first. In fact, she disappeared from the line twice while waiting for her turn. I asked her what the problem was and she said, “I’m not sure I want to do it.” When her turn came, she looked awfully nervous at first. She kept her knees locked and refused to push off the tramp, all while having an odd look on her face. A part of me thought she was going to throw up. She finally loosened up and had a lot of fun. When she got off, she said, “Dad, I thought I was going to puke at first!” Glad she didn’t.

We had a final, impromptu, family gathering for New Year’s Eve. Mexican food for dinner, football on the TV, kids trying to throw popcorn into their mouths. You know, the usual. We did New Year’s at 10:00 for the younger kids and then put them all to bed. Our girls got to hide in our room and play games on their own. They made it to midnight, although separate from the adults who were busy polishing off bottles of wine, getting into some bourbon, and playing Cards Against Humanity downstairs.

Sunday folks started heading home. Or at least they were supposed to. Our Denver family left as planned. Our Boston family was, unfortunately, delayed a day because of a sick kid. But they made it home safely yesterday. An especially big departure was my in-laws, who left for their new place in Florida on Saturday. They had spent some time down there in the fall, but this is the transition point to where Florida becomes home. We’re pretty excited to visit their new place later this month.

With the weird holiday schedule, we put off a lot of normal New Year’s Day activities until yesterday. I took down all the outside decorations on Sunday since it was warm and dry. But the tree and all the other inside decorations stayed up an extra day finally coming down yesterday. And, since our girls have another week of vacation, we got together with some friends last evening for a fairly late night of eating, drinking, and watching football. There is still one more gathering on our scheduled before we jump back into the academic calendar.

This week we have volleyball or basketball practice every day, which is kind of nice. It will force us to be motivated and get out of the house at least once per day. We restarted our Netflix account this week – after dropping it for some time so S could watch a show that is only on Starz – and the girls have been spending a lot of time watching shows and movies available there.

It’s been a very good holiday season for us. A lot of fine times with family and friends. More than enough good food and drink. Our girls are generally well-behaved by now, although they still drive us crazy often enough.

I must admit I was dreading New Year’s Day. The past two January 1’s, I’ve had to deal with health emergencies my stepdad was going through. Both years, as we took the tree down and got the house back to normal, I’ve had to take extremely upsetting phone calls and contemplate terrible outcomes. I know it’s dumb to think this way, but there was a part of my that kept thinking, “OK, we don’t need anyone going to the hospital this New Year’s Day.” As if my stepdad’s health issues were in any way connected to anyone else in my extended family. Still, it was a relief to get through the first day of the year, and the taking down of the tree, and not have any family health crises.

Anyway, I hope all of you had fine and safe holidays. Happy New Year!