Christmas this year was a little different. Having said that, I suppose nothing needs to feel out of the ordinary when, in the McKee’s time, we have spent Christmases in swimming in pools in tropical weather, kayaking on high seas, bustling through crowded streets of India or Mexico, and even in the depths of a hungarian winter. To say that our family’s travel traditions are unorthodox would be an understatement.

Regardless, we found ourselves in Ireland this year.

To say we “found ourselves” in Ireland implies that the journey was a whirlwind spur of the moment sort of thing, so let me backpedal a little bit.

We drove six hours to the coast of Rotterdam, then boarded a ship which tugged us along for twelve hours as we slept in a cabin that I can tell you resembled a porta-potty in size. Then, we drove all across the UK to Liverpool, where we boarded another boat along with other truckers and long haul passengers. There we sat in a drafty lounge area, shivering as we played boggle for the 8 hour journey. I know this journey was too long because in such a time, I started to develop feelings for a middle-aged truck driver who had no hair, acid washed jeans, and reading glasses like my father. Surely this was a sign that I was literally aging rapidly as we were making the longest trek across the shortest sea I can think of. From there, we drove the two hours to our final destination: my Grannie’s house on the outskirts of Belfast.

So as you can see, our journey resembled something only Frodo Baggins can appreciate, one weary traveller to another.

We went to visit my father’s mother because she is not doing so well. She looked quite frail but her spirits were high and all in all we had a nice visit. When I was a young girl we would visit Ireland often and spend summer days exploring all of Dad’s childhood spots. Places he used to visit, areas on the coast he would jump into the sea or lear to sail, the corner shops where he’d buy his sweets on the weekends with money he had pocketed instead of donated to the collection at Church, places he grew up and eventually made his own way in the world. Because of my Grannie’s health we didn’t get to all of those places- but we still had fun being together.

It wouldn’t have been a McKee family vacation without a little retail therapy. I realize this illness of mine is hereditary- I learned from the best. I can’t think about how much money I spent, or the magnitude of purchases I made because I have a feeling it would make me very ashamed. So suffice it to say, you won’t see me in the same outfit for some time.

It had become a new tradition that I take care of the Christmas dinner. I am very much OK with it if for the only fact that the rule is that the cook never has to clean up afterwards. And let’s face it, this must be the worst chore in the entire world, with or without a dishwasher. So I took to the dinner with a little bit of anxiety, seeing as how my guests would include some family I hadn’t seen in a while, along with a few orders that required special attention. I made a turkey, which was basted to perfection and garnished with rosemary. I made a ham, cooked traditionally in pineapple juices and brown sugar. I made roasted vegetables, yorkshire puddings, mashed and roasted potatoes, stuffing and gravy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m ready for the 2.4 children, just toss them my way. Preferably with a sexy man, thanks.

On Christmas day we got to talk to Elder McKee! Little Logan has had a great year, serving for the most part in Switzerland. He’s a trooper- learning so much and making life long friends. He’s our hero.

We also attended a presbyterian church service on Christmas day. One of my aunts is a deacon there, so it was nice to visit with her and see this part of her life. The service was super irish with lots of singing, and the pastor talked about Christmas cards and how it’s a good time of the year to love one another. I don’t do christmas cards because I’m too lazy. And postage gets expensive when virtually all of your friends live on different continents. But maybe I can be better at that next year.

All in all, the trip was a good way to ease me into that western European culture once more, in preparation for 2013, which I think will hold a lot of adventures for me.

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