Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Gatherings

One of the most enjoyable parts of Christmas for me is getting together with my family.  I remember as a young girl, when my older brothers and sister would be living on their own in various states and how lonely my twin brother and I would be at times.  But usually everyone would come back to Mom and Dad's for the Christmas Eve/Morning sleep over and Christmas party.  I have very fond memories of sleeping on mattresses on the floor of rooms at the Lakehouse when trying to close off some rooms and save on the fire place heat.  We would talk and sing in the night hours until we finally all drifted off. I think I know many Christmas hymns by heart from these sing-a-longs!  Then when my brother and sister-in-law had the first grandchildren of the family it added a completely new side of Christmas for us all.  I am so thankful we have the year of the puppy on video and many other special Christmas memories.

Grandmom with Sarah's gift to her.  We missed getting the Christmas tree Hannah got her, and also Granddad with his traditional gifts of raisinets and a Christmas mug.

Every once in a while we would even have a holiday spent with extended family.  I loved being with my aunts,uncles, cousins, and grandmoms (my granddad's had already passed away before I have any memory of them)!  Such wonderful times to hear my parents reminisce of their childhood days and to see them with their siblings teasing and loving each other.  I was raised in a very happy and God-fearing family, so these times are blessed memories.

 Grandmom Short and Memaw Rose enjoying a chat.

I am so thankful to be doing the same with my children.  I remember the first Christmas Alpheus and I were married.  We celebrated with Dan and Lorilyn, but it felt really strange not being with our parents.  I am sure we were there a few days before, but for some reason (maybe Christmas was on a Sunday and we couldn't stay?) we were in the parsonage the first year.  I think I would have been really sad if I hadn't had at least one sibling there!  The next three years were full of babies and my parents living with us or near by.  Then we moved to Florida.  During the 7 years that we lived in FL we sometimes had family down for Christmas.  Sometimes we came back up to VA.  Sometimes we just celebrated with our church family.  But in each case, our children were blessed to spend time with people who loved God and them and remembering wonderful times together. 

Sarah getting a picture of me with Mary and her new dolly.  She has gotten 4 just like this one in her eight years of life.  We keep putting the "all loved up" ones away for memories!

As my children get older I wonder what they will remember about our family gatherings and what makes them the most happy.  I would ask them now, but they are asleep.  Maybe I will post their answers later.  On Monday, everyone who could, traveled to my parents' home to visit and let the children open the presents from Grandmom and Granddad.  As usual there was lots of delicious food!  There was also  a lot of teasing and talking as we tried to play Mexican Train.  I sat by my nephew Ben, who was featured on a recent post! :)  It was so wonderful to spend more time with him and everyone.  My girls enjoyed playing with their cousins, talking with various family members and guessing at what might be wrapped up under the bear trees! ;)  The only thing we didn't do this year was sing any Christmas hymns. Sharon even made fruit cake for my parents.  (Yes, we have nominated her for an award!)  It was a wonderful time!

Lydia with her doctor kit.  She was so thrilled. She doctored innocent bystanders all day today!
Keeping with the medical theme (sort of), Lydia was just as tickled with the Buzz operation game.

When we finally all gathered in the living room to watch the presents being opened, the girls were so excited and happy. But what really makes them happy isn't the toys, but the love they feel from these people who care about them all year round!  I know that years after they have forgotten what the toys were they will remember the grandparents, aunts and uncles that loved them.
What doll loving girl doesn't also want a spyware set! :)

Sarah holding her own copy of Kung Fu Panda 2.  She also received a lovely pink heart watch.

Ariana sporting her new Alvin the Chipmunks hat!  So pretty!

Hannah (with Memaw helping) holding up her new long awaited for art supplies!

Lydia was so excited to play her new games that she could hardly wait until after breakfast.  We all sat down to play the first time.  This was a new twist on an old classic with doctor and specialist cards and money for retrieving the endangering organs.  We had loads of fun, especially Daddy who won! 

Last night as I walked passed the older girls room out of the corner of my eye I noticed a strange shape in the room.  Hannah had set up her easel and was all prepared to paint as soon as she woke up.  This was painted before breakfast at 9AM! :) 

We really missed having Ed, Traci, Brandon, Logan, Kamryn, Jacob, and Aaron and Bryce at our get together this year! (Though I hear someone is turning 50 and we will be seeing Aaron and Bryce at that party in a week! :) )

I pray, dear friends, that you are able to spend this Christmas with family.  Whether you have blood relatives or in-Christ's-blood relatives ~ enjoy being with ones you love!

With All My Heart~

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