I wore bright red leg warmers last night. I did. I looked pretty cool and got a lot of compliments, too.
We went to Holiday Trail of Lights in McKinney last night. The trail was not exactly something exciting, but we did get to pet an albino snake, drink expensive hot chocolate, look at dinosaurs and there were actually stars out there because it's far enough away from the city!
This is us with Father and Mother Time...
The holidays are so amazing. I keep writing about that so maybe I'll write about the other side of the holidays. They say the holidays make us remember those we love and have lost. Why is that true? I keep remembering back to the year after Mom passed. Dad and I had no idea where to start. We looked at one another and the presents scrawled between us. We have come so far since then. It blows my mind. I know he wanted to make it normal for me. Our traditions are very different now and we have a whole new family... maybe we even have two if you count Nick's family. Things always change, don't they? Even if Mom were still here I believe our traditions would change and grow as time went on. Sometimes we don't mean to, but they creep back into our memories. Today at church we were singing hymns and I remember we always had to sing a hymn while Mom played the piano before we opened gifts. I smiled softly. Then I fast forwarded to standing outside Grandmommy's home and I remember swearing I could see the star of Jesus. I stared into the night sky trying to find it. Granny Jac always gave these insane gifts, but she was so proud of them. Dad would get a bunch of black socks... one year we have it on video soap on a rope! She just thought of us in everything. We always had Christmas with Grandaddy and Rae on another day, I recall, and she always had things on back order because she loved to order us things from Neiman Marcus or give me a pristine doll when I really liked Barbies. She had amazing taste! Our last Christmas together when I was ten Grandaddy gave me the handwritten story of his life... the best present you could get. Priceless. He passed away the next year. I don't have grandparents anymore, but that is okay. Even in the last few Christmases Grandmommy just wanted to go to Heaven. Selfishly I hate that and I want to shower her with fun gifts that she hated because she always told me she had too much! The last time I saw her was last Christmas. We spoke all of the time, but actually hugging her was Christmas. On the way home I remember telling Dad we had to always make it count with her because "this could be her last Christmas." Wonder why I said that? She was in just fine health. Weird. I just knew she wanted to go to Heaven and she was ready whenever it was her time. So Christmas does make me miss all of them so very much.
We are very blessed to have Brenda and our entire family. I know they had traditions growing up that were probably different, but we all morph to make it work. This year they will come here and we will go to the Gray Christmas Eve then to my stepbrother's family's home in Oklahoma for Christmas Day. We had the tradition for 20 years going to the Stewart family Christmas on Eve. They are my second family. But, we have to compromise as we have relationships and we have to grow along with that.
Along with Christmas the sermon today was on peace. Peace is mentioned so many places in the Bible. As Christians we must find peace in the storm no matter what. That peace that surpasses understanding that we know is from Jesus. We all have different storms. Sometimes it is hard to find peace in it all. With the bustle of Christmas as we slow down the pain might creep into our hearts. We look at children so excited to see Santa Claus and jumping for joy at every light they see. We yearn to be that way again. Those memories can make us tear up wondering where that naive little kid went. We all grow up, don't we? I may be grown up, but the lights and the joy still bring a smile to my face. I hear happy stories during this time and I see the joy in other's eyes and I hear people so excited talking about the perfect gift for someone else. I smile. Joy. Peace. It's all in there. The preacher talked about a family who had this perfect nativity scene and the little boy kept putting his t-rex in with it. They all laughed. They said maybe the t-rex symbolizes something is always trying to take our joy and peace, but that baby in the manger could always handle the monster.
I leave below my pictures of my loved ones during some of my favorite Christmas moments. Peace fills my heart. Joy fills my mind.
By far my favorite. My Grandaddy Don was diagnosed with a form of heart cancer around this time; You can tell he is a bit puffy, well, he got so puffy his arms looked like Popeye because the tumor was in his artery as this was one of the first 100 confirmed cases of heart cancer. He was such a loving and gentle man. I wish I had gotten to know him longer.
Grandmommy gave me the coolest gifts. She would give me the JCPenney catalog and I got to circle what I wanted. I had a special little tree there, too. She always cooked the best steaks for Christmas growing up. We would watch soap operas, I remember, after lunch on Christmas Day!
Granny Jac had this beautiful cuckoo clock from overseas and every year I would see if I could make it cuckoo. When I was in fifth grade I was finally tall enough to reach it! I now have it in my dining room. She was amazing.
Mom didn't like pictures that much, but she always had me taking in them. Every year she would dress me up in different outfits and we'd take photos! I remember the first time I had my own money I got her a Gap sweatshirt for Christmas. I was so excited! We loved to sing and then read the Bible story before we opened gifts. So many good memories.
This is Grandaddy and Rae. She was dad's stepmom, but always my grandmother as well. I loved this doll they gave me so much. I still have her. I pierced her ears and bought her cute clothes!
This was our last Christmas together. 2000. I don't recall much about it and I want to kick myself for it. I think there was a freeze that year... I was in college mode and brought everything home from my dorm, I guess, to show off college life? I saw in my journal I wrote Mom and I had watched Christmas movies all day while Dad was at work and how much I had enjoyed that. She was just becoming more of a friend than a mom to me. Good memories!