I am so lucky. So very very lucky.
I had such a wonderful Christmas. Spent Christmas Eve day with my parents, then went to church. Came home and opened presents with the kids. Went to bed at a decent hour for the first time in years. I’m usually doing “one more thing” in preparation for our trip the next morning.
On Christmas Day, we headed out for Marshfield, MO (just before Springfield on I-44) to be with my extended family on my mom’s side. This is just about the highlight of my year. I love being with my family. I love that we all get along and there is no tension. And, most of all, I love that my family loves to go as much as I do.
It’s a unique situation, in my opinion. I only have two cousins, and they are about 10 years older than I am. So, I always looked up to them, but didn’t consider them “my age.” Now that I’m older, we all get along so well, as if we were the same age. But, what is even more unique is that I get along just as well with their kids now that they are older. They are roughly 20 years younger than I am, but let’s be honest, I act a lot younger than I really am. Plus, I’m just into a lot of the stuff that they are. We are all four on Facebook, so that made this trip even more awesome. I told them that even though I hadn’t seen them in a year, I felt like I had seen them often, because I would keep up with them on Facebook.
Another really cool thing about my family is that my aunts and uncles also act younger than their ages. And, my kids actually enjoy spending time with them. I can remember my mom and dad making me go visit their aunts and uncles, and I could not have been more bored. Sure, they’d usually have cookies, but I would be limited to one or two, and then what was I supposed to do for the next hour? Man, that time would go sooo sllooowwwlllyyy. But, my kids just love visiting with my aunts and uncles. They have great stories to tell them, and often have something to keep them occupied. Plus, they have satellite, so our kids see shows that we don’t get at home. (We don’t have cable. I know. A moment of silence, please.)
So, the time with my side of the family was filled with food and fun. Fabulous!
The next day we headed to Joplin for time with Tom’s mom and brothers. Now, most people don’t enjoy time with their in-laws, and a few years ago, I would have been one of them. While, as I mentioned earlier, I act younger than I am, I have also matured enough to be able to enjoy my relationship with my mother-in-law. When my kids were little, a woman from church pointed out to me that my M-I-L was also my children’s grandmother. And, it was then that I realized how awful it would have been if my parents had acted disappointed about my grandparents’ visits or our visits to them.
Ever since then, I have come to enjoy my visits with my in-laws. My M-I-L and I have some great discussions. She used to be a librarian in two elementary schools, and I was an elementary teacher, so we share that commonality. Tom’s two youngest brothers also live in Joplin, so we were able to spend time with them as well. My M-I-L cooked a fantastic dinner of pork loin, corn, mashed potatoes, spinach salad, carrots, and homemade bread. Yum! Tom’s youngest brother has a daughter who is four. We played a Dr. Seuss game, that was a lot of fun for all of us, which is hard to find these days. We also met his girlfriend for the first time, and she gets four thumbs up from this family!
And, then, yesterday we headed back home. Whew. So glad to be back in our own beds and able to look forward to a week of relaxation.
But, as I look back on the holiday, it could not have gone any better. Notice I didn’t mention any gifts I received. Those took a backseat to all the time spent with families. As each year goes by, and we are all able to get together, I thank God for letting us all live one more year so that we can enjoy the gift of our families. One day, there will be people missing, and of course, then it won’t be the same. But for now, I have been blessed with one of the greatest Christmases ever.