Whew! What a whirlwind this holiday season has been! We have been having a blast, that is for sure! Spending time with family, eating LOTS of amazing food, breaking in new toys, and just going, going, going.
We were with my parents, sisters and grandparents on the 21st. It's always fun to see the excitement spread from the kids to the adults - Papa had actually been aching for the big boys to open some of their toys so he could go out with them and play! :D I love that the joy of the season can bring out the kid in us all. My grandparents are getting older, as we all are...but I feel this year that we need to make the extra effort to see them. No sense of foreboding or anything, just the fact that reality is what it is. They won't always be with us, and we need to make the most of what we have with them. Kelly has already lost all his grandparents, and I only have two of mine left. I want the kids to have good memories of them, as well.
Kelly ended up working on Christmas Eve, but the kids and I still went to Evergreen for candlelight service. It was a sweet and beautiful time with family and friends...though I have no idea how my kids haven't given Pastor William a complex over the years! In the past, my oldest has corrected his accuracy in a sermon (thus leading William to write a lengthy letter to him and pay him for his editorial services!), my middle has insulted his chili (which led him to insisitng on knowing my recipe, being that it was what his was compared to), and tonight - boy howdy - TWO of my kids were in top form. During the opening prayer, Castle started saying Amen...louder...and louder...and LOUDER....I guess he didn't think Pastor William needed to pray so long! Mrs. Tiffany, Pastor's wife, was sitting right in front of us, and could hardly contain her laughter! Then at the end, when we were all lighting our candles, Caleb was too busy singing to bother containing his flame. He caught my father-in-law's sleeve on fire! Oh, my, it's never a dull moment with the Quinn kids around, that is for certain! LOL!
Connor and I waited up for Kelly. We knew he'd pull what he's pulled the last couple years and wake us all up to open gifts. So, for the third year in a row, our Christmas morning began at about 1:30am! UGH!!! It is frighteningly becoming a tradition around here, and I can't say I'm completely thrilled with it...but when has our family ever done anything resembling normal? It is kind of nice to be able to sleep in, take out time, and not feel rushed in the morning. We let them stay up for an hour or two, then sent them all back to bed so we could get some shut eye ourselves. I had already decided it had been far too long since I'd seen some of my extended family, so Chloe, Connor, Castle and I headed to Monett about noon for the Craker Christmas. I got to meet my cousin, Chris's husband and new baby, so that was awesome. It was nice to visit and catch up without using a computer! :)
On Saturday, we had time with the Hartzells. Oh, boy, what a bittersweet time. With the family farm selling this month, there have been moments of remembering good times, sighs of relief, and tears of what could have been. It is a good thing, but also a hard thing. Knowing this was the last family lunch "on Grandma and Grandpa", kind of made us feel like the end of an era. But with a family like this, we know it's actually just the beginning of a new era.
In the evening, the cousins got together and were going to have a game night...but it ended up being an evening of visiting and eating - which was just fine with (mostly) everyone! Connor was a tad disappointed, but he'll survive. I could feel the busyness of the last two weeks catching up with me, not to mention, still fighting for strength after the bug I'd had, and Kelly was watching me pretty closely. I kept smiling and saying I was fine, but by 10pm, he was loading me up and sending me to bed - plus turning my alarm off so I wouldn't try to get up for church. I went to bed sort of grumbly, but was so thankful to wake up rested and ready for a day of fun with our kids and nieces. My guy is definitely a keeper! :)
Casey and Tiff showed up for lunch about 1. The kids ate fast and stared holes in us until we finally agreed that it could be present time. It's always fun to take turns so everyone can ooh and ahh over all the fun gifts. Castle, however, doesn't believe in taking turns. He opened his, then started opening whoever wasn't watching theirs! Oh, that boy! We have a fun afternoon and the kids played outside with their new Nerf bows and guns, keeping the chaos inside to a minimum. Tiff and I are both due in about a month, so we were glad for the lower roar.
That evening, we headed to Crossway. With all the craziness of the family get togethers and holiday programs, I felt like it had been ages since we'd worshiped with our church family. I was pleased to find we were having the Lord's Supper, but sad that Kelly was working security and couldn't partake with us. However, it was a beautiful service, and I felt the love of our Savior as I dwelt over my juice and wafer. He has truly blessed us this year...the hardest loss we've ever endured, and a gift of renewal and promise all in the same year. Life is hard, but He is good. I'm humbled by His overwhelming love.
And the fun isn't even over yet! April, Rob and the kids will be heading this way Tuesday, and we will have a few days with them. I just can't wait!