Christmas with the Doddema’s

Explore Strange New Worlds-Day One–We left for my parents on December 23rd. We figured with the possibility of us moving in a few months that we would spend a little extra time with family. The trip normally takes around 2 1/2 hours, depending on bathroom breaks, fights, etc.. Regardless of the season, it’s a beautiful drive through the mountains. We finally arrived in Trout Creek, Montana at the Trout Creek Motel where my parents had graciously lodged us for the next couple of night. The outside had been totally redone, giving it a rustic, outdoorsy look. Although the inside was pretty standard for a motel, what really made it appealing was that the manager had made my family a plate of home-made goodies–from cookies, fudge, etc. There was something with chocolate and coconut and that’s all I seem to be able to remember for a few moments. Along with the goodies was a Christmas card. Now that’s cool!

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After emptying the van, wrapping presents, and just plain relaxing, I called my dad. Since the last time we had visited, they had, again, moved–into the “boonies”. Located around five miles out of Trout Creek and in the back roads, my dad led us to their new home. Since the county doesn’t plow the road, ranchers use their own tractors. Although Missoula hadn’t had any snow for a few weeks, Trout Creek didn’t lack for any. My sister and her two kids were at my parent’s house to greet us. So after hugs, kisses, small talk, more fresh-baked cookies, we caught up on all the local “stories” and happenings in the family.After supper, my dad pulled out the slide projector that he had borrowed from school and we watched some slides that I had never seen before of my grandparents and other family members. My parents made the very appealing offer of taking 4 of our 6 kids; an offer we couldn’t refuse. We went back to the motel at about 8 after stopping at the local gas station/general store for some snacks and settled in for the night.

A Spoonful of Sugar-Day Two–I had handled the previous pretty well despite the pain that I was in. This day was hell. I couldn’t sit still, couldn’t find anywhere to sit to help relieve the pain. We left the motel probably at 10 and headed for my parent’s house. Since we had already missed breakfast, my wife and the kids were going to take a walk so I decided to take one with them. I think I was fortunate in that I got about 100 yards from the house before I had to walk back. It was a beautiful walk. Snow everywhere, the scent of pine trees, turkey and deer tracks going off into the distance. Amazing. Unfortunately for me, the pain got worse and Mr. Happy pill stepped in. At this point, I usually lay down and enjoy the ride. During my medical haze, my family watched more slides.

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We had a Christmas Eve dinner and gathered around the tree to open one present each. With my own family, we read the Christmas scripture and open a present. While growing up, I remember going to my grandparents house and all the relatives would be there. My grandpa would dress up like Santa Claus and come out from the back of the house. Everybody knew who it was but we still enjoyed the fun of it. Although my dad didn’t dress up as Santa, my sister gathered all the kids into a back room and had them sing Christmas songs while “Santa” dropped off a few gifts for the kids to open. Unfortunately, Santa forgot one of the kids and my sister had to go chasing down Santa through the house. The kids had a great time laughing. My sister may be a pain sometimes but she is funny! She just throws her whole self into the act and doesn’t stop until the show is over.

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Afterwards, I watched some of the slides that I had missed during the afternoon. We left for the motel around ten but this time only three kids stayed with my parents. During the day, Bridget had been coughing non-stop. We just figured she may have had allergies from the cats that my parents kept outside. Once back at the motel, Bridget got worse. She was having difficulty breathing. Once she got to sleep, it lessened a little but still she was having trouble breathing. We called my parents and my mom and Kara headed for the closest hospital (about 40 miles away) at 11:20 pm. It wasn’t until 4:30 am that she got back. Bridget had pneumonia but since we had caught it before it got worse, she didn’t have to be admitted to the hospital. It was raining when Kara left the hospital but by the time she got back to the motel, it was snowing heavily.

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Let It Snow, Let it Rain….rain!-Day Three–Now that Bridget was sick, Kara having to work the next day and still thinking that it was snowing, we were going to have to cut our Christmas vacation shorter than we wanted. We opened the door expecting a Winter Wonderland and found a swamp. I don’t know when the weather decided that rain was better but the road to my parent’s house was slush. Kara had to fight to keep the van on the road. Once at my parent’s house, we opened Christmas presents. Since we were leaving earlier than expected, my parents put out a buffet of meats, cheeses, etc to snack on. We left around noon and drove through over 2 hours of rain. After bringing everything in, Kara and I collapsed.

Until next year?–Life is never as simple as we would like it to be. While some could assume that Christmas was over for my family, we still had some left. Prior to leaving for my parent’s, our church had given my family presents. We had left them behind to open when we returned. So there they sat, mocking us and our kids baiting us. Worse combination ever! We opened, paper and boxes everywhere. One positive of all this: our friend, Dan, came over. He just wanted to stay and wish our family a Merry Christmas and we made him sit through the whole unwrapping (I don’t think he plans on having kids anytime soon!). He got Kara and I a gift–Season 1 of Battlestar Galactica. Those that haven’t watched this new series–do! Amazing!

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On the 26th, Kara’s brother and sisters came over and we opened more presents. Yahoo! We got a wonderful surprise as Kavan (Kara’s brother) and his wife, Sarah, are expecting their first child this upcoming June. We ended up going to Pizza Hut for lunch and the boys went with Uncle Kavan sledding in Tarkio.Christmas is finally over. Kara’s birthday is tomorrow and Annie’s on Sunday. I’m still recovering from the whole trip. I cannot wait until the 8th when my massage therapist comes back to town!

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