As we prepare for our upcoming [short] adventure in Chile, I feel like I need to debrief from our Christmas travels. I’m super excited about our the next couple of weeks, but I want to share about our last couple of weeks before all of the memories start to blur together and I start to think that Christmas at the Harts’ was chaotic or that meals at the Ludlows’ were consumed before 9pm. : )
Before I start, I’ll give you a super brief family background, in case you’re not familiar with where we come from. I am the third of seven children. Oldest is 35, youngest is 10. All of my siblings are amazing. I’m super blessed. My two older siblings are married, and I have 5 nieces/nephews. Blake is the youngest of three. He has two incredible older sisters. He’s super blessed, too. For their benefits (and mine), I’ll leave ages alone.
I’m pretty sure that this Christmas has been my favorite Christmas to date. After having our Christmas celebration on the 16th, we headed out for a nine-day trip to see both of our families in North Carolina. We spent a few days with my family, a few days with his (including Christmas Eve), two more days with my family (including Christmas Day), then headed back here on Sunday so we could work this week. The funny thing is that I’m not nearly as exhausted as I normally am after a trip like that. I think it’s because I know that this is probably our last Christmas here for a while. Next year, our families will still celebrate and so will we, but we’ll each be missing something. So I tried to be intentional about making memories that would last through the Christmases we will miss. Just thinking about it now makes me a little teary-eyed. So, onto to something cheerier!
I had so much fun doing so many different things and I want you to know about
all most of them. So, I’ll make a list of the amazing/fun things we did and if you want to know more about something, you can ask.
- We went to my brothers’ basketball game. I still can’t believe they’re in high school and so tall.
- Held John-John (3-year-old nephew) while he slept. It’s the only time he’s still—or so I thought—see next bullet point.
- Learned from my sister’s children that it is possible for one (actually two) to pitch fits in their sleep.
- We took MaryGrace (our 5 year old niece) and Hannah (my 10-year-old sister) shopping and to play at the Chick-fil-A play area.
- I observed Hannah plunging her hands into the icy water at the fountain so that we could all throw pennies and make wishes. (Please don’t tell Mom). MaryGrace didn’t do a very good toss the first time, so Hannah had to do it all over again.
- Sang to the Sound of Music Soundtrack at the top of my lungs with Sarah (my closest sibling in age–she’s 24). I bet Blake wishes there was an escape hatch in her car.
- Met with dear friends (and ministry partners) we haven’t seen in a long time. Love you Dewayne and Rhonda!
- Made a gingerbread village with three of my younger siblings. It makes me so happy that my teenage brothers will still do stuff like that. : )
- Had a rare and quiet breakfast out with my mother. We were so enthralled with the silence that breakfast lasted several hours.
- Worked on a puzzle at my grandparents’ house. I’m so glad they live so close to Mom and Dad now.
- Had lunch out with my BFF from high school, Sher. It was good to catch up.
- Had a “Bottom 5” outing with all of my younger siblings plus Blake. We went to TCBY and stuffed our faces with yogurt then went bowling and had pizza. It was a blast!
- Headed for the mountains to visit Blake’s family.
- Basked in the quiet at Mom and Dad Hart’s.
- Enjoyed family dinners with the Harts.
- Took our second annual trip to Hot Springs to soak in the toasty hot water while the air around us was in the 40s. If you’ve never done it, you need to!
- Did a puzzle with Mom H. and Stacy (Blake’s sister).
- Iced gingerbread cookies with Mom H.
- Blake got to lick the red velvet cake batter bowl.
- Played Scrabble Slam–quite a challenge!
- Met friends from college for coffee. Always good to catch up.
- Had dinner at Three Brothers in Asheville–a Hart family tradition. : )
- Shared lunch and gifts among Blake’s immediate family.
- Had Christmas Eve dinner with some of Blake’s extended family. It’s always entertaining and the food was delicious!
- Drove back to Mom and Dad’s.
- Woke up first, for the second year in a row, on Christmas morning. Climbed into Mom and Dad’s bed between them. I’m not sure they’ll miss that next year.
- Enjoyed Mom’s reading of Luke 2 before we did anything else Christmas morning. It’s a story that never gets old, and a tradition that I cherish.
- Exchanged gifts with Mom, Dad, and the siblings that still live at home.
- Received a special gift from Hannah. Unbeknownst to Mom, she took her birthday money to the school holiday store and bought gifts for everyone in the family–that’s a big feat considering the size of our family.
- Had a huge breakfast!! Thanks Mom and Dad!
- Exchanged presents with Sher and received another super special gift. She had a ring made for me that has a map of Ticnamar on it. She told me that it was to remind me to pray for the people there whenever I see it.
- Played Just Dance with Blake and my younger siblings. It was hilarious to watch my brothers dance!
- Made Christmas cookies. Again, I love that my brothers and sisters still like to do stuff like that.
- Had a huge dinner with my parents, grandparents, all of my siblings and their families at Grandma and Grandpa’s. It was super special.
- Stayed up late with Grandma working on a puzzle.
- Slept over at their house and woke up to SNOW!!?
- Piled on all of our warm clothes and drove the ½ mile to my parents’ house to play with the crazies. We had so much fun!! It was still snowing when we headed back to Atlanta that afternoon. I hated to leave.
You may notice that the fun we had at the Ludlows’ is different than the fun we had at the Harts’, but I really appreciate both kinds of fun. One needs a little chaos to make life interesting, but it’s also nice to retreat to somewhere peaceful. I think that the families we came from are what make us who we are. Blake is reserved, introspective and a deep thinker. And me? Isn’t it obvious? I’m just plain crazy.
Here are some other pictures if you’re interested…
Karla & Stacy (Blake’s sisters) on Christmas Eve
Blake & Hannah modeling their Snuggies.
The Ludlow Men-folk. We grow ’em tall in Waxhaw.
Hannah, MaryGrace, Will and Michael on Christmas.
John-John playing dress-up
Merry Christmas from our H(e)art to yours!!