There’s lots to do in the next couple of days, both in terms of organizing (the second half of this blog) and saying goodbye to our family for a while.
We’re celebrating Christmas with the grandkids today, because our own Christmas will be aboard the Viking Star en route from Fort Lauderdale to Cozumel.
It’s not unusual for us not to be together on Christmas Day itself. For many years son #2 and his family lived on Canadian Air Force Base Greenwood, in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley.
Some years they were lucky enough to get both military leave and seats on the Air Force plane flying troops from “down east” to CFB Trenton here in Ontario, from where either we or our daughter-in-law’s parents (with their van, which was a necessity once there were grandchildren to transport) would pick them up.
Some years we flew to them – but PMQ (Permanent Married Quarters) housing on a military base is definitely not big enough for visits by both sets of grandparents, and the queen-size inflatable mattress in the living room was no-one’s idea of fun in a house of early rising babies.
Some years Christmases were celebrated via FaceTime. All three grandsons were comfortable interacting with us through a screen from a very young age, so even when the family was transferred to Ontario and we spent our 3 temperate seasons of each year near them, we felt no guilt at all in heading for warmer climates before Christmas (at the very first hint of snow if we timed it correctly).
All of that is simply a preamble to saying that we had a wonderful dinner today, featuring a ridiculously good prime rib roast with Yorkshire puddings and all the trimmings, and the boys each got to open their early Christmas presents from us.
(Lest you think we’ve forgotten son #1 and his adult family, rest assured we have plans to Facetime with them the day before we fly out. They celebrate the solstice as opposed to Christmas, so the timing of both our call and their gifts will be perfect.)
The rest of our preparations for leaving are largely organizational. It’s now been 4-1/2 years since we sold our home, and 3-1/2 years since we sold all our belongings, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things to store and legal records to maintain.
About 80% of all our clothing and personal gadgets are coming with us onto the ship. Bulky clothes and boots for the Canadian winter we had to brave last year, as well as a few “extra” casual clothes, are packed into 2 large suitcases which will be stored in son # 2’s basement. Two small car bins of “stuff” will stay in the trunk of our car, which that son will also store. Those two bins haunt me; I’d like to do without them, but can’t seem to part with those few niceties that we carry from furnished rental to furnished rental: my rolling pin, hand mixer, chef’s knives, sturdy lidded mixing bowls, and baking utensils. We travel with our electric toothbrush and Ted’s electric beard trimmer. We leave behind the Waterpik irrigator, the Amope electric foot file, our travel-size Keurig, our sleek digital scale, a small set of tools (screwdrivers, hammer, Allen keys), our Apple clock radio and Apple TV. Those things are great to have when we’re travelling by car and have room to lug them along, but we won’t need them for the next year and a half.
We review wills and other legal documents every 5 years, as well as before leaving the country for extended periods. Each of our sons needs to know the physical location of our stored documents, but we’ve also updated them this week with everything they might need if we don’t return. That includes:
- contact information for our lawyer, our financial advisor, and our accountant
- a list of bank accounts, credit cards, and investments,
- our government and private pension plan numbers,
- our health, travel, and car insurance information,
- our doctor’s and dentist’s contact information,
- our passport, driver’s license and social insurance numbers,
- our out-of-country phone numbers, and
- our accommodations while we’re gone (hotel, rental, or ship!)
Before we leave the condo that has been “home” to us for the past 8 months, we’ll also do a thorough cleaning, which is an efficient way to ensure that nothing of ours gets left behind.
And, essentially, tomorrow is my last visit for a very long time to my wonderful local hairdresser, who’ll ensure that my grey hairs are hidden for at least a little while. Grandson #2, who is 7, wisely commented “Why bother Gramma? Isn’t everybody on your ship old people?” Kids – sheesh.
So. Done. We’re not quite set – except emotionally – to board the plane, but we are ready!