As I sit here a few days after Christmas, it is too easy to wax prosaic on the joys of the holiday; we went to someone else's house, slept in their guest room, ate their food, used their shower, lounged about like cats (the most useless of all domestic animals), and then simply got up and left with hardly a thank you. It was the first time in almost 30 years that we spent Christmas away from our own home. I guess we should get used to going somewhere else from now on or spending it with many fewer people around but still...
We had a great time at Shelley's, Steve's, and Mariah's house in Yucaipa this year. Lisa came up from San Diego, Celia flew in from Provo, and Kiel and Melissa came over from Manhattan Beach. Brigitte, Tyler, and Logan were in Utah this year and Brittany went to visit Gabe's family in West Virginia (more on that later). Since Kiel had to work on Christmas eve and Christmas day, we did the Gift of the Magi sob fest (a local tradition where the kids get to make fun of dad as he attempts to read the story with dry eyes) and the present opening on the evening of the 23rd and Christmas eve morning. Opening presents is always alot of fun; to see people opening a real surprise gift is a great source of amusement. This time we got to watch as Mariah opened presents for the first time. She was particularly fond of a drum and her (Steve's) new wagon. The wagon, it turns out, was designed with two small riders in mind. It came complete with cup holders and seat belts. The seat belts were NOT Mariah's favorite feature although she got a little more used to them after moving outside and starting the actual ride.
Christmas eve evening we enjoyed the hospitality of Steve's brother and family for dinner and family fellowship. I particularly enjoyed a long discussion with Doug, Steve's dad, and getting to know him better. He is a remarkable man and has had a number of great faith promoting experiences in his life.
Christmas day was actually pretty uneventful for us. It rained all day and since Kiel and Melissa had gone and Steve, Shelley, and Mariah had gone to Steve's family for gifts and family stuff, Trice, Celia, Lisa, and I were left to our own devices. We found Ben-Hur on TMC without commercials and settled in for a long watch... great show. I mentioned earlier that Brittany wasn't with us on this trip; she went to West Virginia this year to visit with the family of her friend Gabe. When I tell this to anyone it seems that the standard response is a knowing wink and a nod. Am I missing something? Anyway, she and Gabe have been seeing alot of each other over the past few months. He is a fine man and is studying speech therapy at Cal State where he plans to finish his Master's program this summer.
After the show, everything was pretty much on rest and relax... I can't remember much of what we did except play games and watch Mariah. The best part of the days there was getting to know Mariah better. All Trice wanted her to do was call us Opa and Omi. She seems to have an aversion to the "m" sounds. As a parting note I don't mind saying that I was overjoyed to hear that after we left, Mariah would look around and say "Papa?" which was about as close as we got to Opa. That's my girl!
As Trice, Celia, and I returned to a very cold house after a long drive home, I think we all feel the same gratitude for many, many blessings. I hope that you all take a few minutes to count yours and remember where they come from. Life is good in spite of the bumps in the road.