The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (In A Nutshell)


The past month has been epic.  I forgot my camera for the first big event, but snagged a few of my sisters’ photos.  My brother-in-law planned a fabulous surprise birthday for my oldest sister.  The day before, my brother hatched a plan to fly up here for a couple of hours to surprise her.  It worked.  I picked him, my nephew, and niece up from the local airport an hour before the party started.  I felt like a little girl, back in the middle of Africa, waiting for him and my sister to fly home from boarding school.  My other sister and I would listen for the sound of the small Cessna flying in from where they went to school.  First a distant hum, then louder until we could see the plane circling over our station.  This was slightly different, since he was the actual pilot this time, and his son was texting me from the airplane.  But those distant memories were stirred from the corners of my brain, and I actually jumped up and down and screamed just like I did when I was Betty’s age.  From our house, I heard the airplane and saw it coming in for landing.  We raced to the van to drive the mile to the airport to pick them up and head over to the surprise party.
surprise siblings  siblings3 siblings2
Here we are, youngest to oldest.  It was such a treat to be together, even if it was only for a couple of hours.
My nephews, the oldest and youngest of my parent’s 18 grand-kids, spanning 18 years apart.  So precious.
A few weeks ago, the kids and I took a secret drive to Valley Forge for a Christmas photo shoot.  I was excited at the forecast of snow flurries that day, and was imagining their white little selves falling on our noses and eyelashes in picture perfect clarity.  What really happened was a lot of this:
Also a lot of shivering and red noses.  DSC_6083-2
Eventually we came up with a winner, where everyone was looking, no one was doing peace signs behind anyone’s back, no one was saying, “I’m freezing!” and no one was sticking out their tongue.
Although, they’re all pretty fun.  We did one more shoot outside because the flurries were starting.  Everyone sat down and this happened:
But then this happened, which is pretty sweet. DSC_6149-2
Oh, and the flurries stopped once they sat down.  Go figure.  DSC_6147-2
This month there has been a lot of this as well:
The Sunday before Christmas there was another attempted photo shoot of the kids.  This one turned out great.
The rest pretty much followed this pattern: DSC_6393-2
Christmas Eve was spent at the Weldon’s house with family.  After many attempts at getting a picture with Matthew, 99% of them being blurry, like this: DSC_6431-2
One finally turned out crisp and clear.
Our yearly tradition of Santa coming to town was a success.  All of our kids know it’s really Uncle Jon, but they still play along for the most part.
DSC_6483-2 DSC_6493-2 DSC_6551-2
Christmas was a lovely day here at home.  We didn’t have to be anywhere and spent the day at home by ourselves for the first time ever.   We had monkey bread for breakfast, but I  pretty much left my camera on the shelf for the rest of the day.  DSC_6650-2
I have some treasured memories of squeals and hugs by appreciative hearts.  It was a beautiful day.  That evening for supper Matthew’s parents, sister and brother, and my parents came for dinner.  DSC_6645-2
We enjoyed a fun evening together and the Weldons spent the night.
The next day we went rock climbing.  This girl right here is a natural.  The boots.  The green tights.  The pony-tail.  I couldn’t stop smiling.
DSC_6675-2 DSC_6701-2
All the girls were smoking it to the top over and over.  DSC_6686-2 DSC_6726-3
The next day was interesting.  We went to Jack’s wrestling tournament.  We had expectations of hanging out together for a few hours in the afternoon, cheering him on, then getting home in plenty of time for supper.  We can laugh now, but we weren’t laughing then.  I had thoughts like this going through my head:  “It won’t be long,” he said.  “It’ll be fun,” he said.  Looking back, it was fun.  The kids brought their walkie-talkies, and were able to get lots of fresh air, running around outside and testing them out while we waited for 130 matches until Jack’s first match.  The worst part of the day was right before Jack went onto the mat for the last time.  I glanced around and couldn’t see Betty anywhere.  I got a sickening feeling in my stomach as I looked all around the people-filled gym.  We had just walked from another mat to this one, and somewhere along the way, Betty got lost in the shuffle.  Jack was up to wrestle.  I didn’t want to panic in front of him and mess up his concentration.  I grabbed one of the walkie-talkies while Elijah and Nadine grabbed two more and we set off to find her.  All in all, it was about five minutes total before I walked down the hallway and saw her huddled behind the door to the gym.  She had her little stuffed puppy and was crying.  I scooped her up, emotions spilling out of every pore.  Jack was wrestling by then, and I just held her and we cried happy tears while we yelled encouragements to Jack.  My entire body was shaking.  I praise the Lord for watching over Betty.  We figured that as we walked to the mat and stopped, she must have kept walking until she got to the hall and didn’t see us anymore.  I told her what a good girl she was to stop and wait for me to find her.  It was a long day that started and ended about three hours later than we expected.  Jack won his matches and got a first place trophy.  His eyes said it all:
2014-12-27 18.40.52-2DSC_6753-3
After getting to bed close to midnight, our plans for the next day somewhat unraveled.  We were supposed to leave at ten o’clock in the morning.  Around ten thirty, the last of our five sleepy heads stumbled downstairs from their cozy bed.  Pancakes started.  Someone else desperately needed a shower, especially since they couldn’t remember the last time they did so.  At last, everyone was fed, so I headed upstairs for my own shower.  On the way, I met a special six-year old girl who was staring at herself in the mirror and said to me in a puzzled voice: “It’s like someone cut my hair!” as she fiddled with her brown silky mop.  I was about to just say, “Uh-huh”, but something stopped me in my tracks.  “Elsie, why is your hair so short?  Did you cut your hair?”  Her eyes showed a slight mixture of fear and debate about her answer.  The truth won out, and she told me she was just curious about how it would feel to cut it off.  I think she found out pretty quickly.  So, my shower was delayed for a bit longer while I opened up the hair salon in the bathroom.  By noon we were ready to leave, but we didn’t actually leave until one-thirty.  And THAT is how we roll some mornings in our house.

We arrived at Matt’s brother’s house a couple of hours late, but enjoyed time together and another visit from Santa.  Here’s Elsie with her new haircut:DSC_6761-2
If I could summarize the entire month of December into one photo collage, it would look like this:
December 2014
Joyous New Year!


2 thoughts on “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (In A Nutshell)

  1. What an adventure! Love the pictures!!

  2. Enjoyed this post immensely—it was so much fun to fly up for the surprise event! I love your tellings of life! Praying for you guys and look forward to when we make back to PA next!

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