I had been looking forward to going home for Christmas more this year than any year I can remember since moving away. It was wonderful to be with my parents, brother and sister-in-law, even though the time always seems so rushed and too short. I received some beautiful and wonderful gifts from my family, but none of it was anything compared to my time with them.
Our traditional line-up on the couch, after opening our stockings and while watching Ma & Pa open their gifts: Me, Aaron and Ketra.
I attempted to take a nice picture of my parents... but Dad started holding his head in weird angles so the glare on his glasses wouldn't be so bad. Then, we all started laughing so hard. Regardless, this was the best photo...or, I should say, the photo that best represents them. Our parents in usual form!
One of the strangest parts of the stay at home was playing with Ma's cat, Cindy. Prior to this visit, Cindy has been one of the most anti-social cats I've ever met. She used to be always hiding in the window, under the furniture, or hissing. But, since the passing of our long-time cat Mitzi, Cindy is now a completely different animal. Friendly, cuddly, playful...(but, unfortunately, still hissing every once in a while. Old habits die hard, I guess.) We never knew how much of an alpha pet Mitzi was until now.
We were able to have a nice brunch together and visit before going to my aunt and uncle's home for some time with the cousins. We have a very non-traditional meal this year, with 4 kinds of soup, sandwiches, and delicious snacks, and none of us minded one bit. We were just happy to be with family!
As usual, the joking was constant, and the game playing went on throughout the weekend. Mom, Dad, and I enjoyed a late, late, late game of DVD Clue, and I am hoping we'll be able to try it again some afternoon when everyone is more awake. I was also able to play some Scrabble (cousin Chris' new game), Pop 5 (my new game), In Other Words (Dad's new game), and Cribbage. I have played Cribbage with Dad for many years. But, each time that I'm just about good at it, I have to go home (with no board and no rules). And, I forget all over again until Dad teaches me again the next year. Mom and Dad gave me a set for Christmas, and now I just need to find a playing partner in Edwardsville.
I was also thankful for some time away from the hustle and bustle so that I could spend some time reading God's Word, specifically the verses centering on Christ's birth. Each night, no matter how late (or early) it was and each morning, I spent some time studying, and I have done my best to keep up the reading times since. When it is hectic and life is going at its usual pace, it is so very easy for me to feel secluded, forgotten, even alone... yet during the past week, I've often been reminded of my greatest blessings: a loving family, kind and helpful brothers and sisters in the church, a large circle of supportive friends, and a Saviour who entered the world and suffered, knowing all along He was saving me. I am blessed far beyond what I deserve.