If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Recap

We faced Christmas with mixed emotions this year.  We mourn the loss of Mike's dad, share concern for those less fortunate, and rejoice in celebration with family.  Today, the day after, has been a time for me to simply relax and luxuriate in a way.  Mike was off to work - AGAIN and Toby and I had the house to ourselves.  It has been quiet and restful.  That was just what was needed after all the reveling.

Our celebration started off last Saturday when we joined Mike's extended family.  His mother and her sister have traditionally gathered all their family together for a feast.  It has grown into a pot-luck affair since the children and grandchildren are grown.  So, if a person simply tastes everything on the buffet, that is a heaping plate!

The grown folks are chatty and the children are boisterous and everybody seems to have a really good time of feasting and fellowship.  We gather at Mike's mother's house upon the hill across the pasture from us.  This is the view off our back porch:

She has plenty of room for us all to spread out and sit at a table to dig into the delicious dishes everybody contributes.  She and Miss Peg (Mike's aunt) and Mr. Frank (Mike's uncle) did the set up and provide the backbone of the meal.  Peg and Frank's son, Jacky, came early to help cook the country ham.  Mr. Frank was the primary slicer of the turkey and the ham.  There was potato salad, green beans, squash casserole, macaroni and cheese, creamed corn, rolls, corn-light-bread, cranberries, pies, cakes, dessert squares, cookies, and lots more.  I ate so much I could hardly breathe!

There were cousins and nephews and a niece and children galore in attendance.  Some perched in the dining room, some in the farmhouse kitchen at a couple of tables, some up in the bonus room with the children and babies, and some in the sunroom.  We ate and laughed and talked and ate and laughed and talked.

Then, on Sunday afternoon, Mike and I hosted our family.  I cooked most of the day on Saturday and set the tables.  Then, Sunday morning bright and early I was up heating the food I'd cooked and cooking some more.  (I did let Mike squeeze into the kitchen to cook up some sausage and biscuits for breakfast!)  Bridgette, Corey, Lillie, Lydia, Stephen, and Bonnie came for a late lunch after church.  We feasted on smoked ham, yeast rolls, sweet potato casserole, squash casserole, mac and cheese, green beans, cranberry salad and a plethora of sweets that the daughters brought.  I ate so much I could hardly breathe!

We gathered in the den and exchanged gifts. 
Lillie and Lydia went first with the opening.  They were excited over PJs and other clothing as well as Legos, dolls, and doll strollers. 
Lillie got a fancy belt with lots of bling that we all envied.  She also got a baby doll that Bridgette did some babysitting for between photo shots.
Lydia got a baby, too, and she immediately set to rocking it just like folks do with a real baby. 
Stephen seemed pleased with his orange and white checked shirt.  I had to take several shots to get a glimpse of his face peeking out over the top.
Bonnie's smile radiates with each opening and Stephen seems to be reserving judgement.  I was so glad that they drew names using drawnames.com and I could check in and see their lists.  It made my shopping easier - especially after I decided not to just get the guys the same things and the gals the same things.  I figured they might want something different from a set of wrenches or a personalized bag from Thirty One.  So, I checked their lists and checked them twice...
Oh, the guys still got a tool, like this ratcheting wrench by Kobalt that Corey is checking out.  Mike had seen it advertised on TV and thought every guy on our list needed one - I think he must have wanted one himself!
Bridgette asked for white towels because when they get mud, makeup, or grass stains a little bleach will restore their pristine-ness.  I think she liked them and the Origami Owl necklace all the daughters got.
As expected, the tablets for Lillie and Lydia seemed to be the hit gift.  Stephen was amazed at the techno-savvy-ness when three-year-old Lydia opened hers she exclaimed, "A tablet!"  Then, immediately after it was turned on her little fingers started sliding and touching to get to apps she wanted to give a try.  Digital natives!
I don't know who was helping whom in this shot.  Both of them seem mesmerized, don't they?
My parents dropped in after their visit to Granny's and Daddy had to check out all the gadgets everybody opened.  Then, Stephen and Bonnie were off to their next stop - Bonnie's family gathering.  Corey, Bridgette, Lillie, and Lydia were off to church.  In a couple of hours, Bryan and Jessica stopped in from their trek to see Bryan's grandmother in eastern Tennessee.  Once again, we ate and I ate so much I could hardly breathe!
 Jessica seems thrilled with her gift as Bryan inspects and reserved judgement.  Doesn't that look seem familiar?
Bryan had to send a message to Corey showing that he was reserving judgement till he knew whether the gift was a keeper.
Evidently, the lunch box works!  Jessica didn't seem so sure about the size of it, though, especially when he suggested she fill it up each day.
Mom seems to like the personalized pottery piece from Mudd Puddles Pottery I ordered for her.  It did turn out beautifully. 
All of this was exhausting for poor Toby and he had to get a little rest.  Finally, he just curled up and napped!
We all had a big day and I think we all wound up tired, content, and glad we had the time to share together! 

The next morning, we gathered at Mike's mother's for a breakfast of country ham, eggs, sausage balls, gravy, biscuits, hash brown casserole, and sweet rolls.  Mike's brother, Jim, and his entire family came as well as Mike's two children and their families.  We gifted each of the youngsters and then played a game of Dirty Santa with gifts for the adults.  There were a couple or three hot items - a griddle, a set of tools, a cooler.  So, some folks had the opportunity to choose a gift more than once.  Mostly, we all simply shared a good time. 

We also got to share our gifts with Mike's daughter Laura and her children. 
 Some gifts required studied concentration to tear into - like the one Cassie is wrestling.
 Evie immediately had to don her necklace being the girly-girl she is.  After all, a girl's got to look accessorized!
 Again, the tablets were a big hit for the granddaughters.  I think Cassie's face shows how she feels about hers.
Evie was mesmerized with a coloring app and wanted to color a Disney princess over and over, changing the look each time.
Again, I wonder who is teaching who when it comes to this technology!

All-in-all, we had a very blessed holiday.  How fortunate we are to be able to shower one another with gifts and share time together over-indulging in delicious foods!  The memories of these good times will last forever and our gratitude for our many blessings can never be fully expressed.  I hope you and yours made life-long memories to treasure and reveled in abundance as well!