Please forgive the quality of the pictures. These are from the 80s. Even if I were to try to give you some more recent pictures of these amazing people, the pictures would still be fuzzy. Why, you ask? Well, two of them went to be with their Heavenly Father before the "digital age".
Here we are. December 10th. Smack in the middle of my favorite time of year.
Really. It is. Always has been.
I loved the Holidays as a child.
Thanksgiving in Louisville. The longest day ever, but oh so worth it. I didn't watch football back then, so it bored me to tears to have an entire day of waiting to eat the food that was smelling up the house so wonderfully. Football in the background. Smells swirling through my Nana's home. W.A.I.T.I.N.G.
Then, finally the fellowship of family. My aunt and uncles. My cousins. My near 100 year old GrandMomma. My dad. My mom. My little brother. My Nana & Grandpa. Stuffing balls (hehe), olives, sweet gerkins and SHIRLEY TEMPLES. Oh the SHIRLEY TEMPLES.
Christmas at home. The earliest day ever, but I'd venture to say it was also oh so worth it for my parents. It was the one day we could wake them up before dawn. Now that I am a parent, I have a whole new respect for their willingness to get out of bed SO VERY EARLY, just for us. I remember trying to wake my dad up at 4:30 a.m. once. He just nicely told me it was a bit too early. I waited patiently until about 6:00.
We woke them up EARLY. They made us W.A.I.T. while they got their coffee (Of course, I TOTALLY get that now). They wanted to see our faces as we came into the living room. Beautiful, amazing, wonderful memories.
I simply L.O.V.E.D. the holidays.
I still do. Now, I'm the one making them wait while I get my tea.
The only problem with this time of year is how it brings my childhood memories to the surface. They are wonderful. But, they are bitter sweet.
You see, those memories include four people ~ my mom, my dad, my brother and me.
As I sit here today, only two of us remain ~ my mom and me.
I can't help but get a little weepy this time of year. I turn into a big baby. I miss my Daddy. I miss my little brother. I want to wake my Daddy up at 4 in the morning again and have him tell me ever so sweetly that it is just a little bit too early. I want to wait for my Daddy to make his coffee. I want to squeal in anticipation with my little brother as we are both about to climb out of our skin. I want to hug my Daddy and feel his rough fingers as they squeeze me back. I want to see that joy in his eyes as he spends Christmas morning with the greatest thing he's ever done ~ his family. I want to joke with my Daddy and my brother in Louisville as we wait for dinner at Thanksgiving (my immediate family were the only ones who didn't watch football in those days). I want to watch as my brother makes jokes that no one gets but us. I want to watch as my Daddy shows my almost 100 year old Grandmomma the most attention she's seen in a while, as he patiently listens to all of her stories of "way back when", simply because he loves the elderly as much as he loves children and animals.
I want to step back. Just for a minute, please. I want to smell them. I want to hug them. I want to feel their arms around me.
But, I can't.
I just have to accept that and move on.
And, thankfully, God has blessed me with a beautiful distraction.
He has given me the gift of a family of my own. He has given me the opportunity to make those same memories for my own children. I must look forward. Always remember and appreciate the past, but move forward, making memories for my own children.
So, here we are.
I'm making memories for my girls. We are decorating our tree. We are making them Shirley Temples and watching football on Thanksgiving. We are making them wait just a bit longer on Christmas morning as we fix our hot beverages (Daddy drinks coffee, Momma drinks tea).
And, we're making new memories for them.
We're taking them to The Nutcracker Ballet. A real ballet. But, we're reading the book first and listening to Tchaikovsky first, so that they know what they are seeing and making connections on their own.
We're taking them scootering around the Friendship Fountain while listening to Christmas music on the loudspeakers (maybe that's Florida's version of Ice Skating in New York???).
We're taking them to Bethlehem. To see the Roman Soldiers and listen to them demand your taxes. To see the people of Bethlehem, selling their wares. To see and smell and pet all of the animals, goats, sheep, chickens, ponies, horses, donkeys and of course the camel. To see the little children of Bethlehem cooking over their fires, weaving on their looms. To hear the shofar as the Rabbi calls people to the temple. And, to the inn that had no more room. To the stable to see the live baby Jesus.
We're taking them to friends' to celebrate the season with a beautiful Advent Spiral.
We're taking them on Christmas bike parades and Christmas hay rides.
We're helping them make and wrap gifts and making hot "cocoa" (carob) and Silk Nog with nutmeg.
I will forever cherish the sights and sounds and smells of my own childhood memories.
And, I can only pray that my girls will forever cherish the sights and sounds and smells of their childhood. All I can do is move forward and give them the same LOVE that I always felt from my family.
It's a beautiful time to have a family!