We never knew how much attention our grandkids were paying to our travels along the border of the United States over the past 10 months.
They live in Phoenix so hooking up with them in Maine while they were on a family vacation there in June was a special kind of fun. They loved hanging out in our Casita and the picnic lunch Georges made for all of us at Camden Hills State Park. This made ordering birthday gifts for them later that summer a piece of cake. (Photos from our time together on the coast of Maine made great pillow covers!)
But we were never sure they really plugged into our travels. We’ve chatted by phone a few times from the road, but the conversations were brief and not very deep. Like most kids at 12 and 14, they aren’t much into email. We couldn’t tell whether they followed this blog.
Until Christmas Day.
Imagine our (wondrous and delighted) surprise when we opened the first gift pressed into our arms Christmas morning.
It’s a homemade board game titled “Can You Make It Home?” Modeled a bit after the Monopoly board, around which we’ve spent hours together over the years, this board game has a “start” square and you take turns rolling the dice to move your token around the board. The first one to make it all the way around to the “finish” square wins.
Here are the five of us as Georges and I open the gift, nicknamed “Perimeter Palooza.” That’s Alex, 12, in natty special Christmas attire, with Isa, 14, next to him. GG Ev (short for Great Grandmother Ev) is looking on, wearing her cool Christmas hoodie.
The creativity of the board game – both its conception and its execution – knocked our socks off as we examined all its parts….
God forbid you should land on a “delay” square and have to draw one of the purple penalty cards. Here’s what they look like from the front….
It’s clear from what the cards say on the back that the kids have been following our travels pretty darn closely.
Thank goodness there are also “power up” squares you can land on, which require you to take a red reward card.
These too are gems.
I love them all – especially the “made new friends” card, which gets you another turn, and the “you get to visit Isa and Alex” card, which allows you to advance five whopping spaces.
The rest of our visit was pretty cool too. The kids seemed to like their soft photo blankets we had made using a picture taken last month while the kids were biking with Poppy George and Mommy Keven.
Then Isa made vegan blueberry muffins for the seven of us.
She even made her own whipped cream – and then sampled the wares, of course!
Meanwhile, Alex got in some quality time with GG Ev ….
The night before, we enjoyed a wonderful Christmas Eve with friends in Angelo and Maria’s home in Phoenix…
…complete with Mom’s famed deviled eggs and Coco’s salmon-avocado blinis as appetizers.
G’s coq au vin was a hit. And dessert was two fabulous buches de noel (aka Yule logs), handmade by French pastry chef extraordinaire Luc. (I thought I’d like the chocolate one best, and it was outstandingly delicious, but I have to say that in the end I loved the crepe-wrapped-cream-with-raspberries buche even better!)
Earlier still, G had snagged this special gift from Santa. (To understand the significance of this particular custom design, go here.)
And Santa delivered these handcrafted slippers to Mom on the left and G on the right.
Having Mom with us for the holidays, still feisty at 91, is a blessing. (Here she is devouring the last of Isa’s leftover waffles the morning after back in our Tucson house.)
All in all it was a great Christmas, one of the best ever!
And in answer to the board game’s title about making it home: Who knows? We’re going to spend this evening taking turns rolling the dice.
Regardless of the outcome, Isa and Alex take home the Oscar, the Gold Medal and Yellow Jersey of Christmas gift creations for their conjuring such an ingenious board game pegged to the last 10 months of our Year on the Edges of America.
We’re still swooning.