I was one of those kids who adored carnival rides that simultaneously spun and rotated so fast that when the ride came to an end, the rider would exit and stumble about for a few seconds, trying to regain some semblance of balance. I bring it up because this year, the period between late October until early January was almost as dizzying.
I never got a chance to check in here and show you photos of the house with the halls all decked or tell you how we passed the cold and cozy days. But because I know you’ll forgive my tardiness, I’m doing so now. I didn’t take near as many pictures as I should have but I’ll share what I’ve got.
Last year during Christmas, we were in transition. We were living in a short-term rental just biding time, waiting for our Alabama home construction to be complete so we could turn the page of our life story. Cardboard boxes lined the perimeter of that house. We didn’t bother hanging a single thing on the walls or settling into what we knew would never be home. All of our Christmas decorations remained boxed up; I hadn’t even intended to get a Christmas tree. I broke down at the last minute and bought a squat little live tree from a corner lot in Tucson. It was the only hint of holiday we could muster.
You can imagine, then, how badly I wanted this Christmas to be different.
Finally, we have a home again. A home with family photos on the walls and cozy fireplaces to cuddle up to. Instead of mattresses on the floor, we have beds with soft sheets and down comforters. The flimsy folding table has been replaced with a permanent place to gather and give thanks.
I had the biggest dreams for a great big tree. What I learned was that, every once in awhile, big dreams are best left to the imagination. We loaded the kids in the car and drove ninety miles to the nearest tree farm that had 10 ft. trees. We chose one and had it cut and tied it to the top of our minivan in true Griswold fashion. And when we finally got that thing up in the living room I hated it. It was ginormous. And so down it came. We gave it away via Craigslist in hopes that it would brighten someone’s Christmas. We settled for one 7.5 foot Douglas fir downstairs and a five foot of the same for upstairs.
It took me forever to get the decorations just right. This being our first Christmas here I had no idea if what I already had would be enough and even if it was, I didn’t know quite where everything would go. It turns out that I didn’t have nearly enough garlands or ornaments or festive knickknacks to make it feel all down-home Christmas-y in here and so off to Hobby Lobby I went. In the end, it came together just fine but I’ve got a few things left on the wish list for next year.
Once you have kids, Christmas is never the same without them. And so having our two young adult daughters (and future son-in-law and sweet baby granddaughter!!) here with us for Christmas this year meant everything.
This marked the first time since having learned to hold her own head up that Charlie (my granddaughter) willingly came to me. Up until now she’d always been mommy’s girl. She still clearly prefers mommy or daddy but I identified the perfect bribe: gummy bears. I once said that I wanted to be the kind of grandma that always had Junior Mints tucked away in the pantry but I’ve since learned that a counter-top jar of jewel-colored gummies are the perfect bait for a Charlie trap. It didn’t take her long at all to figure out that all she had to do was hold her sweet little arms out for Mimi to pick her up and then point in the general direction of that jar and–poof–instant magic.
Kennedy was here for almost two weeks. Torri and her little family spent nine days. We passed the time playing family games of foosball and assorted board games. We went out for fajitas and walked the Tinsel Trail downtown. We ice skated and hiked and drank Mexican hot chocolate. And then we dressed up for an extra-special Christmas Eve service downtown.
I’d been threatened with bodily harm if I neglected to set a pot of “the smell of Christmas” on the stove on Christmas morning. I didn’t forget. We lazed in our matching jammies and opened gifts and ate cinnamon rolls and egg casserole and grits.
For so many years, we always got to visit with Grams and Gramps on Christmas. They’d drive up to Tucson from their winter home in Yuma. I definitely felt their absence this year, but these crazy faces went a long way in making things merry and bright.
Happy 2017, friends. xo