Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Christmas Past

My creation
Christmas 2008 is past but it is now counted as one of my significant Christmas memories. This is, of course, because it was our first Christmas holiday in our little house in South Carolina and Santa's first geographically challenged Christmas for our kids. I'm happy to report we all survived it.

With our little Honda Civic packed to the gunnels we headed to the Hoosier state early early one morning. When we left our little house it was 68 degrees and when we arrived in Indiana the wind chill was 14 degrees below zero. Welcome home! When Anna got out of the car Grandma asked her how the nine hour drive was. "I just couldn't take it anymore!" was her gracious reply.

After unpacking the car (I think I heard it breathe a sigh of relief) Mom and I immediately headed to Wal-mart. Because nothing says welcome to Shelbyville like a trip to Wal-mart. Actually, the real story is that "Santa" forgot to pack a significant gift for Gavin and had to get a replacement. All I can say is thank heavens Amazon's return process is so simple; it made Santa's job so much easier when she, er, I mean, he got back.

After that little trip then Christmas in Indiana officially started. We began by heading to the Indiana State Museum. Actually, Patrick and the kids headed there and I had lunch with my previous Wellpoint co-workers. It was like I had never left...except the no paycheck thingy. Well, all the cousins met at the museum and the cousining began. And it truly didn't stop until we got back into the Honda Civic to head back home.

The next day was spent with friends we love dearly. We had great food and great conversation (as always). Our kids and theirs reunited beautifully and didn't want it to end when we had to head back to Grandma's and Grandpa's because of the impending ice storm...again, another little lovely Hoosier Christmas gift.

It was about that time that I began feeling it; the combination of comfort and grief. I wasn't sure what it was all about so I just sat with it a while. Then I realized I was surrounded once again by everything and everyone that is familiar to me. I didn't miss the malls or the Starbucks or the amazing library system (well, maybe that). It was the familiarity of the life I left behind that brought me comfort and grief all at the same time. All I can say is that there is better living through chemicals, my friends.

Christmas eve came and Elfie headed back home to the North Pole leaving Christmas pajamas for all as a parting gift. Cookies were baked and thank you notes to Santa written. And off to bed where sugar plums danced in their heads until about 5 a.m. Christmas morning. Then it was cajoling the oldest to wait until at least six before we headed downstairs to see what Santa left. Jeez, you would have thought he was a seven year old boy the way he was acting!

Santa left toys that seemed to make the little ones happy. And soon Uncle Sean, Aunt Cindy and the boys arrived. Serious cousining began and didn't stop until the evening. Presents were opened, food eaten, cookies stolen, and the boys were in remote control heaven. We all were wiped out...even the dog, Molly. It's hard to believe the next time we see Cindy and Sean they will have added a new baby to their family. I'll miss seeing her tummy grow.

The next day Gavin got to spend the night with his cousins Jacob and Ella. He told us on the way there that he wished Jacob was his brother he loved him so much. Oh, that made my heart hurt with love. After dropping Gavin off we headed to Aunt E-E's so the little ones could have some cousining of their own. The grownups made some serious yummy white chili and enjoyed one another's company.

And then the Kiley Christmas. More cousining - - much louder cousining - -and delicious food prepared by the famous Kevin and family. What gracious and generous hosts they are. The kids got some great gifts. Anna has officially been indoctrinated into American Girl with twin Bitty Babies given to her by Aunt Laurie and Uncle Kevin. And Gavin keeps rockin' out to his guitar hero from Aunt E-E and Uncle Scott. All of us keep looking at the family pics calendar Cece gave us.

Our time together seemed so short and it seems so long before we'll see you all again. But remember we have unlimited long distance calling, a webcam (that we actually know how to use...I think)and loads of time to talk, gossip, and laugh at one another. We'll talk soon. In the mean time we're grateful for the best gift we received this Christmas, time with our family and friends.
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