This year, we spent Christmas in Brevard, NC, at my parents' "summer home." My mom had decorated everything for Christmas back in October, before they left for the season. Thankfully, their "summer visits" are lasting further into the year. Still, it seems like they're never here long enough.
Friday morning, Dan, Baby Anne, and I exchanged gifts. After having her first birthday party just two weeks before, Anne is starting to get the hang of present-opening. My husband got me some very nice gifts, all of which were humbling to me because I hardly deserve them. His excuse was that he'd done nothing for my 40th birthday ... which, I guess, was true, but I'd honestly forgotten all about it.
The three of us made the drive to Brevard Friday afternoon. We went straight to my sister's house, where we had an early dinner of soup and sandwiches. Next, we went to my sister's church, where they had a Christmas Eve service specially geared to children. Kids got to choose beforehand whether they wanted to be angels, shepherds, or wisemen. Angels got sparkly halos, shepherds got ... well, shepherd headgear (what do you call it?), and wisemen got gold paper crowns.
Anne's two-year-old cousin, Ella, wanted to be a shepherd (she'd gone through phases earlier in the week of wanting to be a wiseman, then an angel), so Anne and Ella both got shepherd headgear.
For the service, they first talked about the angels, and all the "angel children" went up to the front, and we sang "angel" songs, like "Angels We Have Heard on High." Next was the "shepherd children," and "The First Noel. Then the "wisemen children" and "We Three Kings." Finally, the Holy Family--a couple with a newborn baby--came up to the front and everyone sang "What Child Is This." It was really a lovely service. I spent most of it in the front with my "shepherd baby," who spent most of her time wandering around, grinning and making friends with the other shepherd children.
It was very sweet. I've been working so much that I've had trouble having any "Christmas spirit" whatsoever, and it was nice to actually feel the solemnity and joy of the season at that service.
We stayed at my parents' house that night, and the snow started at around 9:00 Christmas morning. Long story short: My sister, her husband, and little Ella weren't able to come because of the snow. My brother and his friend Garrett managed to make it, but it the roads were pretty treacherous. We had a wonderful time eating, exchanging gifts, laughing, and just enjoying being with family. I was sad that my sister wasn't there, but I guess it was better than having them get stuck, or in an accident, with the poor driving conditions.
We stayed at my parents' house last night and headed home today, stopping first at my sister's. We had some snow on the drive home, and the roads got a little scary around Asheville, but we made it home safely, just after dark. All in all, it was a wonderful Christmas, and it left me feeling very thankful for how richly I've been blessed in this life.
Here are some things I'm thankful for today:
51. Little baby bellies peeking out from beneath pajama tops
52. Towers taller than her
53. Pretty Christmas dresses
54. Bright paper packages tied up with string ...
55. Grandmas reading to grandbabies
56. Nursery rhymes
57. The old Santa Claus that belonged to my mom as a child
58. How sometimes she looks so much like her daddy's late father
59. Snow on evergreens
60. Laughing with my mom
61. Gratitude jars
62. That bug-eyed telephone we all had as kids--it's still around!
63. Twin snow angels
64. Seeing my brother and my mom having fun together
65. Being safe and warm at home after a long, snowy drive
66. A glass of red wine and a snuggle with the husband after the baby has gone to sleep
67. Long talks with my mom
68. My daughter remembered both her grandparents this time--holding her arms out to my mom and grinning widely at my dad when she saw them.
69. Two little "shepherd cousins," wearing Christmas dresses and shepherd headgear
70. Baby wipes ... you're never really thankful for them until you need them and don't have them!
71. A white Christmas
72. Coming home