A toast of this champagne brought in 2015. It was bubbly and good and made us feel good about the year that would be. And in my family we were not disappointed. Ten Things of Thankful for 2015 (in chronological order):
Completing three decades of married life with my partner and friend.
Watching my eldest reach the milestone of having lived a quarter century of life. Watching her realize her own worth and wishes, and let go of a relationship that was far too small for the wonder that is her.
Witnessing another daughter become a college graduate; traveling to graduate schools with her as she narrowed down her plans; and just recently moving her to her very first home of her own.
Feeling pride in my son as he told of helping refugee families find their way in Germany and later handled media interviews about the Paris attacks like he was interviewed every day. And admittedly hearing cheering inside my brain when he told me that he was ready to spend a good stretch of time in America after he finishes this study abroad experience.
And on Christmas morning, welcoming a brand new great-neice into the world. Though she came early she is healthy and so is her mother.
2015, you were very good to us, and we are eternally thankful. 2016, we welcome you.
Ten Things of Thankful at Christmastime. (Note: Somehow I missed last week’s link so I am cheating and posting it on New Year’s.)
I am a total sap for Christmas; always have been. I remember trudging home from elementary school in snow singing Silver Bells at the top of my lungs. I love Christmases so steeped in tradition that one is hardly distinguishable from the next. This was not that year, but we managed to find plenty to celebrate in a year of change.
For traditions we kept, and experiences that were new
For time with our daughter in her new home
For another daughter who was willing to travel to Europe so her brother would not be alone for the holidays–such a selfless act
For safe journeys
For this pretty church in Chapel Hill and the beautiful Christmas Eve service
For my great-neice, Josephine, who arrived early Christmas morning
For the good health of both Josephine and her mother, Laura
Daughter #2, The Professor, is settling into the first home of her own. A week ago she called on FaceTime so that I could “be there” as she decorated her first Christmas tree.
On one branch hangs the harp-playing angel we brought her last Christmas from Germany. The Snow Queen doll she received the year she danced the part in Metropolitan Ballet’s The Nutcracker sits atop the tree.
My favorite is the Hallmark Baby’s First Christmas1992 ornament that until this year has hung on trees in my house.
Mixed in with all the ornaments of her childhood are brand new balls of silver and Carolina blue. The tree is a biography displaying baubles telling who she was and who she has come to be.
All my life I have been crazy for Christmas. I love all of it–the music, the gift giving, cards arriving by old-fashioned mail, snow, lights, midnight at church and the story of the First Christmas. And, oh, how I love the time with family.
I am completely spoiled by the opportunity to have my family together for the holidays. Christmas day has always been our time for home and time together. In fact, this is the first year we won’t all be together. My son is in France, and we are sending his sister there to be with him for the holidays.
It was inevitable. There comes a time in all families when circumstances pull members in multiple directions. I am grateful it has not happened to us before this year. Still, I am in need of a few extra comfort measures to ease me through this change.
Things that comfort me this Christmas season:
My Advent devotional
Pandora White Christmas channel with all the classics
An entire Saturday in p.j.s
Homemade hot chocolate topped with real whipped cream
Nightly fires in the fireplace
Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life
Memories of Christmases of the past
…And the knowledge that Christmas comes every year.
I really do believe Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year. Probably a month from now, I will believe it is Christmas. Never-the-less, I love Thanksgiving more every year.
It is not about the food. It is more about preparing food that holds memories. Special dishes prepared especially with a certain person in mind just because it will make them happy.
We did the math–this is the thirteenth year that we have hosted the extended family Thanksgiving. The Thanksgivings of my childhood were filled with anticipation. Siblings would return from college; others might or might not be home from military service. My youngest brother and I would stand guard between the glass and draperies of the living room windows. Periodically, my dad would send my mom off the deep end by announcing, “Here they aren’t!”, as she frantically worked to pull together final details.
I grew up to marry a man from a small, reserved family. Our absence was keenly noticed (and commented upon) at his family gatherings, while my family gatherings wore him out. Before long we settled into a compromise of Thanksgiving at home, just our little family.
When my second-born was ten, she asked why we never had big Thanksgivings of the sort depicted by Norman Rockwell. By that point the extended family had outgrown Mom and Dad’s place. She assures me there was much more to this conversation than I recall. What I do know was the phone started ringing about a week before Thanksgiving. By the third sibling announcing he or she would be bringing their family to our house for Thanksgiving, I began asking questions. It seems my child interpreted my musings about big family Thanksgivings as permission to play hostess. She mailed out invitations to all her aunts and uncles on my side unbeknownst to me. The response was tremendous; the company amazing. The first several years four generations were represented. Without Mom we span just three.
Online this week I saw a huge array of snappy come-backs and zingers suggested for use on annoying relatives this Thanksgiving. Many people, it seemed, were expecting the worst from their holiday reunion. How sad, I thought. I also thought how extremely fortunate I am to have Thanksgivings to look forward to, and family I not only love, but actually like as well.