Hello everyone! I have missed you all. It is funny how writing has become such a big part of my daily routine. Having that routine disrupted for a few days really made me realize how much I enjoy writing. I took a few days off for traveling and spending time with family and friends and am now ready to jump back in. If you saw my Instagram stories over the past few days, you saw that I was pretty busy and didn’t have much time to write or post. I really wanted to unplug and be in the moment so I chose to not write while we were away. On top of that, I couldn’t have even if I wanted to. There is no Internet service out in the sticks where our family lives!!! I’m not kidding. I couldn’t even send a text most of the time! Anyway, after the 9-hour trip in the car yesterday, I think that I am on holiday overload (which is a lot like sensory overload) and just need the day today to chill now that we are back home. I’m exhausted! I’ll start thinking about taking all of our decorations down tomorrow. Today I will just rest.
My holiday began in the early morning hours last Friday with a 9-hour car ride south. It was a miserable, rainy, and extremely foggy drive jammed in the car with 2 excited kids and a dog. I thought that my knee was going to break off of my leg by the last couple of hours of the trip due to being stuck in the same position for so long pressed against the pedal. Because of the rain, I wasn’t able to put the car on cruise control much so that I could change positions. Thankfully the traffic wasn’t bad so it didn’t prolong my misery even longer. We arrived at my parents’ house just before 5:00 PM. Thankfully we had a pretty easy going night of Hallmark movies and went off to bed at a decent hour since all of the fun was to begin the next day.
Saturday brought with it the arrival of my sister, brother-in-law, and my two sweet nephews. We ran for a quick lunch with them and my parents at a local restaurant before we had to head to my husband’s dad’s house for the first of our Christmas celebrations. This year, to make things easier for everyone, we decided to go to Cracker Barrel for an early dinner before heading back to the house for presents. I have to say that it was nice not having to worry about cooking or bringing anything and it was great not having to clean it all up afterwards. The only negative was that having 13 people sitting at one long table in a restaurant made it more difficult to talk to everyone. I barely spoke to the people at the opposite end of the table. I guess the other negative was that since we are from such a tiny little town, we had to all drive about 30 minutes to get there and then back. Despite attempting to go for an early dinner so we could get back for presents, it ended up taking longer than planned after we waited a bit to be seated, ordered and ate our food, and drove back. When we got back to the house we arranged furniture and began setting up for our annual family photo. It is not easy corralling that many people into one photo. This year my two sister-in-laws decided that it would be fun if we all took one of the photos wearing red noses. Some of even had blinking noses. It was funny for some and others were party poopers! LOL! It’s always fun watching my husband try to figure out how to set the timer on the camera and run to take his place each time before the picture takes. Opening presents brought lots of laughs, as everything that my youngest got seemed to revolve around “poop.” She has this weird fascination with the “poop” emoji. I don’t understand it. I scored a gift certificate to my favorite Lularoe shop, which I am very excited about! The night ran long and it was nearly 11:00 by the time we got back to my parents’ house for bed.
On Sunday, we woke up and headed to church. I held my 11 month old nephew for the whole service so it was hard to focus on the sermon. He is too stinking cute and I loved every minute of it. After church we made a quick change of clothes and headed to my grandparents’ house, which is about 20 minutes away for a late lunch with them and my uncle and his family. We had an abundance of food that I ate way too much of, my favorite being my grandmother’s cheese ball and her peanut butter pie. Yum! I really should make the cheese ball more often because I love it so much. I wish I would have grabbed some to bring home with me. After lunch, there was more present opening and time spent with family. I really hated to leave since we don’t get to see them nearly as much now that we live so far away. Those times together are so precious to me. From there we headed back to my parents’ house for Christmas celebration number 3. We had a few quick bites of pizza for dinner despite none of us being very hungry and then exchanged presents with my parents and sister’s family. I love watching my nephews open their gifts from me. The excitement on their faces is just so precious and warms my heart. I am also in a competition with myself to always give them the best gifts, the ones that they will love the most. I will say that so far, my record is near perfect!
Monday, Christmas Eve, we again got up early and got ready to head to my other grandmother’s house. She lives about an hour away. There we had a late lunch with my dad’s 3 sisters and all of my cousins and their children. I believe that my grandmother has 4 children, 10 grandchildren who are all married except 1 (another one is engaged and will be married soon), and now 15 great-grandchildren. I could have miscounted, though. Not all of them were there, but the majority of them were. It was definitely a very full house with every single chair occupied as we all ate lunch. Again, we all stuffed ourselves with way too much food, my favorites being my grandmother’s dressing and pound cake, my aunt’s potato salad, and my other aunt’s chocolate chip cookies. It was all so good! I am pretty sure that I have gained at least 5 pounds this week if not more. Thankfully I am back to my normal diet today! Lunch was followed by more presents. Then came my kids’ favorite activity of all. My uncle always brings his horses with him and the kids enjoy taking turns riding them in the field behind my grandmother’s house. It is always the highlight of the holidays for them. From what I heard, both of my girls were riding the horse without a lead. I’m glad I wasn’t out there to watch when that was happening because it scares me. Last year, my oldest fell off the horse when it abruptly stopped galloping and her body didn’t stop with it. She was totally fine, but it always scares me. I know that they are in good hands, though, with my uncle and cousin watching over them. We literally had to pry them away from the horses to head back home to get to bed for Santa’s arrival. When we got home, the girls got busy making Gingerbread houses. They had a blast, but it was another late night for us! If you are counting, that was celebration number 4!
Christmas day came with a surprisingly slow start. I was shocked that my kids did not wake up early and everyone slept in. We actually had to wake them up about 8:30 so we could get the day started. Of course, once they were awake, the excitement filled the air as they ran to see what Santa had delivered. My youngest has wanted a swing in her room forever and finally got one that came with a stand so we don’t have to hang it from the ceiling. It is ginormous but she absolutely loves it. My oldest got the Apple AirPods that she has wanted forever. Overall, I think they were very satisfied with what they received for Christmas. They certainly weren’t lacking for presents this year. I will tell you that of all the gifts that I received over the past few days, none of them mean more to me than the ones that my youngest gave me last night. She had made gifts for my husband and me out of Popsicle sticks, but my absolute favorite was this necklace she made me. She had gotten this jewelry making kit from her Secret Santa through cheer. Instead of making something for herself, she made the necklace for me. As you know, we have a tumultuous relationship so this is extra special for me. I will cherish it always.
We had a great time with all of our family and friends over the last few days. I wouldn’t trade a second of it for anything else. Time with our family is so precious to us especially now that we won’t see everyone as often. I can tell you that my heart is full and overflowing with love and joy. That is what Christmas is all about. The gift God gave us and the love and joy we receive from others is all I need. I hope that you all had an amazing time with your friends and family for the holiday and are gearing up for a joyous New Year in a few short days.