Just before Thanksgiving, the hubs and I decided we needed to decide on a date to “head north” – as in, see his family and my extended family over the Christmas holidays. Because of the Luke crazy, we haven’t done much traveling the last couple of years. It was time to venture out of the house for longer than 24 hours. We packed the suitcases, the valium and a boatload of patience and buckled down for 1,100 miles of crazy fun.
Our first stop was in Bowie, Scott’s hometown. His mom had the calendar jam packed, but we did manage to squeeze in a few hours of sleep. We enjoyed some newborn baby time (Hudson is super cute), some big boy nephew time with Alex, family pictures, Mass, Christmas presents, more family and some great laughs all in 24 hours. The Mass was especially wonderful. It’s a tiny church, Scott’s cousin leads the choir and Mass usually lasts about 45 minutes. It’s quite lovely. Getting together with Cory, Jennifer, the boys and Granny for Christmas meant so much to our family, especially our children. I’m grateful we made the trip and we managed to get there and leave with 7 healthy children. Christmas miracle, I tell ya.
Next up? Even further north to Amarillo. One of my sorority pledge sisters was gracious and kind enough to host us for a few days. Our initial lodging fell through – long story, not worth sharing – so I called up Ali and asked/begged. She said yes, evidently I caught her in a weak moment. Turns out her husband and I went to high school together. And, we knew about half the people in their Christmas card pile. Weird. They were busy with end-of-school-year stuff and we were off trying to spend time with friends in the middle of a snowstorm, but we did manage to sneak in a few fabulous conversations. Ali and Shawn and their two children, Spencer and Elizabeth were such wonderful hosts (don’t let her tell you differently). They had goldfish, Harry & David chocolate covered cherries, warm beds, tons of toys, Uno Attack and a Keurig. Really. What more does one need? It was great to pick up where we left off nearly 20 years ago. Our elves even became best buds. Evidently, Sparkly followed us wherever we went and enjoyed having an elf to share in the fun. Our kids thought that was the coolest part of the trip.
Our main reason for heading to Amarillo was to spend time with my grandfather and his wife, Betty. The “greats” we call them. They hosted sleepovers for the boys, then the girls and we all had a complete, 100% total blast. Papa and Betty were ingenious and had activities ready for their kids when it was their assigned sleepover night. On the boys’ night, they put together a tabletop foosball table. For the girls, they put together a huge cardboard castle and spent most of the evening and the next day coloring it! I’m still in awe at what my grandfather does at age 86. He’s more active and more creative than some 40-year-olds I know. No lie. I love his zest for life, his laugh (I need to post the video of him playing harmonica for the kids), his hugs and his advice. In my eyes he personifies the “greatest generation.” As a former WWII tailgunner, he has some profound stories. He flew nearly 35 missions and lived to tell us about it. That’s miraculous. He doesn’t let life pass him by and he lives for the moment. Thanks Papa and Betty for a week my kids will never forget.
When we checked the weather forecast, we knew we were going to have snow, we just didn’t know it was going to a horrible blizzard. Thankfully, Amarillo caught the tail end of it instead of the worst like they were predicting. Trust me, Scott and I had visions of being snowed in at the Johnson’s house. I’m pretty sure it was at that point, when we were fretting about just how much snow was coming our way, that Scott said, “Remind me again why we drove over 1,000 miles to freeze and get snowed in?” The snow we got meant a cancelled lunch with my college roommate because of closed roads, but the kids were able to make snow ice cream. That’s a real treat if you live in central Texas. We don’t see much of the white stuff down here. The kids only lasted about a minute outside in it, they were all complaining about it being too cold. HA! We’ve all become cold-weather weenies.
The snow didn’t keep us from seeing one of my best friends from high school and her growing family. She has three awesome boys and one on the way. It was great to pick up right where we left off. Good friends are awesome that way. I am SO looking forward to our 20-year reunion next summer.
Then, it was off to spend time with one last family member, my amazing Aunt Mary Lou. We all have that one relative that we can tell anything to. That’s MLou, or, Mary Woo, as the kids say. She never misses the teachable moment, never lets anything go to waste, never fails to see the positive in people and always tells the truth. I love her, so much. Her partner, Martha, and Tobie, the amazing therapy dog, were able to join us for dinner after a long day at the Red Cross. MLou had the kids make their own chicken pot pies for dinner and it was quite the adventure. We managed to get the pies made, terrorize her house and bust a snowglobe all over their floor within 15 minutes of arriving. It’s then I thought to myself, “I wonder what people think about our crazy crew when we leave?” The fly on the wall only knows!!
It was a spectacular week. My ears have finally recovered from hearing, “How much longer” and “I’m so hungry” and “I gotta go potty” 8,000 times. We were blessed with pretty extraordinary travel weather, awesome visits with family and friends, a blessed Christmas season and some pretty precious memories. I’d say that’s a winner-winner-chicken-dinner kind of trip.