I’m still catching up on the Vander Well events of this past year. It’s time to revisit the holidays. I mentioned in the Autumn post that my folks moved into Wesley Life’s Pella Manor in October. One of the major reasons for the move to Pella and into the Wesley Life senior living community was so that my mother could move into Memory Care when a bed was available. She had been suffering from Alzheimer’s for many years. My dad had lovingly and dutifully cared for her despite his own major health issues, but it was time for her to get the round-the-clock care she needed.
God’s timing is always perfect. A Memory Care room at the Cottages came available and Mom moved in the day before Thanksgiving. I will always remember this Thanksgiving as the last holiday that Mom celebrated with us in our home. We didn’t realize at the time that this year would be the final holiday season we would celebrate with Mom here on earth.
With all the physical, mental, and emotional labor of moving Mom into Memory Care, Thanksgiving Day itself ended up being a very quiet affair this year. Dad picked Mom up from her room and brought her over to our house. I must confess that Wendy and I made the executive decision to buy a warm-and-serve Thanksgiving Dinner from our local Hy-Vee, and I am so glad we did. It was so easy and so delicious. After dinner, we settled into the living room to watch football. I will always remember sitting there next to Mom holding her hand as she faded in and out. It’s one of those precious memories that my brain stores in a special mental file. Wendy’s folks stopped by for a visit after having dinner with the Vander Hart crew.
The Scotland crew was with us for a couple of weeks over Christmas and New Year’s before they headed back to the UK. Milo celebrated his 5th birthday while they were here and it was Sylvie’s first visit to the USA. The season held lots of events. There were gatherings with friends, our niece Anya’s birthday party, Pella’s wonderful holiday Kerstmarket, and family visits to the Cottages to see Grandma Jeanne. We got Madison and Garrett home for just a couple of days but they were here on Christmas Day and we made the most of it. It was so much fun to wake up on Christmas morning with all the kids and grandkids in the house. Wendy made her famous Christmas breakfast with Cinnabon cinnamon rolls. Dad, my brother Tim and his wife Kumi, and Wendy’s folks all paid a visit in the afternoon. Wendy put out her (now traditional) Christmas charcuterie spread for people to enjoy all afternoon. The Vander Well Pub hosted our 2nd Family Christmas Cocktail contest.
Since Papa Dean was now in Pella, our kids requested an old Vander Well family treat: eireflensjes, which is basically the Dutch version of a crepe. We made the most of having our grandkids that week. I took Milo to Smash Park for a little lunch and game of Connect Four. New Year’s Eve was our 17th wedding anniversary. We celebrated with having our friends over for an evening in the Vander Well pub. On New Year’s Day we capped off the holidays with another family tradition: the Vikings-Packers grudge match with my Packer-loving nephew Sam and his amazing Viking-loving wife Lydia. It turned into a whole family gathering which was fun. The Vikings lost, which was not fun.