February 11, 2014 by comhomflt
Somewhere in the not-too-distant past, the month of January seemed bleak and endless, with the rush and thrill of the holidays over and an interminably long stretch of holiday-free months ahead. I still dread that post-holiday letdown, but as the last two Januaries have sped by with hardly a whisper of gloom, I may find myself rather anticipating the month of January after all! I was surprised at how my mind and body relaxed that first day I heard the Pledge of Allegiance wafting up the stairs, signaling a return to our normal day-to-day routines. The holidays were, of course, wonderful and lovely as always; a whirlwind of eating and games, laughter and late nights, music and conversation…exactly as they should be. Now, as the New Year is well under way, and the routines are once again running like a well-oiled machine, with a few “process improvements” here and there for greater efficiency, I find myself reviewing those memories in my mind’s eye with a happy satisfaction. I also know that if I don’t take the time to catalog them now, I might be posting pictures of Christmas come Memorial Day!
Thanksgiving was spent at my parents’ house, with a welcome modification to the original plan. Instead of eating Thanksgiving dinner at the Norfolk Navy base, my LT was able to make our traditional Thanksgiving morning trek through New York City and arrive at Pap and Memmy’s in time to bring us breakfast bagels! It was wonderful to have him with us, even if the future was uncertain at that point. The meal was equally wonderful, too. Turkey often occupies an obligatory space on Thanksgiving plates, but if you could sample some of my mom’s, you’d gladly make room for seconds. No fancy brining or deep fat frying is required, and yet, it is a turkey worthy of the White House! (Disclaimer: I don’t believe the current FLOTUS would approve if she knew the secret.) Add to that creamed cauliflower, homemade cranberry sauce, bread stuffing, buttery limas, and butternut squash, and it’s a wonder anyone had room for boring, old mashed potatoes! And the pies – oh my! BM1 put his order in a day earlier – three pumpkin, two chocolate meringue, a lemon meringue, and – oh, yes – an apple pie, too! It is a sin to write this, but only a third of the lemon pie was discarded. That is two-thirds of a pie per person, but I’ll feel better if I tell you my brother took home an entire chocolate pie, which is truthful. And that our Seaman ate two pies all by himself, which is not truthful. Later, with pumpkin and chocolate pies, of course, we celebrated a couple of November birthdays – mine and my brother’s. My hubby picked out perfume for me all on his own, which was just as special as the gift itself; and getting to pester my brother while blowing out candles was quite fun.
Thanksgiving rolled right into Christmas, and we brought out the bins of Christmas decorations the same night we arrived home from Pap and Memmy’s. Lights, Christmas concerts, (online) shopping, an evening with one of our missionaries, Christmas cards and letters, gift wrapping, games, cozy evenings together…there are so many reasons we loved this Christmas season. It was just the right amount of busy, with quiet moments for reflection interspersed throughout. It is true that the trappings of a perfect holiday can keep us from worshiping the One we celebrate, but I think it is lovely that the most beautiful, exciting, and special time of year is this holiday we set aside to honor the birth of our Savior.
Christmas Day itself we spent with my LT’s family, and it was a blast! Six adults, eight kids, and a mischievous little dog all in one medium-sized house – what noise! What commotion! What energy! And, what memories. That might sound like mayhem and chaos to you, but Memere whipped everything into shape in no time flat. I’m pretty sure the kids might have all been stashed in a labeled box in the back room if they sat still long enough, but they managed to escape such an organized fate. This was our Seaman’s first Christmas, and he had sort of caught on to the whole idea of unwrapping by the end of the day. The best reaction to a gift came from our zany nephew, who has plans of opening a café of his own someday. His package, with the clue, “May the forks be with you!” contained a Star Wars apron and Star Wars pancake molds and caused no small amount of exclamations and silly poses. The evening ended with an impromptu bell choir selection by Memere and the four girlie cousins, who range in age from three to seven. Great job, girls!
The next day, we headed to Providence to enjoy a family Christmas gift from my LT’s parents – the Experience Rhode Island Old Time Christmas tour. It was quite a neat adventure! We enjoyed cabinets (otherwise known as “milk shakes”) at an old drug store, visited an operational colonial-era farm, stopped at an adorable bed and breakfast for a snack, toured a gorgeously decorated mansion, and had fun poking around a giant gift shop. Thanks, dad and mom; it was a special gift, for sure! (And – bonus!! – it counted as a day of school.) Here we are enjoying beautiful Blithewold:
My parents came up for a couple of days to celebrate a second Christmas and, best of all, to ring in the New Year. There were plenty of new coloring books, puzzles, and art supplies to be enjoyed, as well as many opportunities for stories and tickles from Pap and Memmy. New Year’s Eve was the highlight of their visit, and we invited some friends and neighbors over to share in the fun. I wish we had taken some pictures to prove it, but there were ten adults and five children all in our living room at once – playing two different games, no less! It was a great evening filled with games, laughter, “lies,” and, tragically, dessert dropped on the floor. And best of all, my LT was here to kiss me when all the digital clocks kept accurate by a nightly atomic signal confirmed the arrival of 2014!
We took the rest of the week off from school and spent one snowy morning fulfilling a promise to make graham cracker “gingerbread” houses. A Pinterest post suggested the genius idea of filling the cups of a muffin tin with the various candies, so the project wasn’t nearly the slop or hassle I had anticipated. I gave each kid their own tray to contain the mess, and we sprinkled shredded coconut around the houses afterwards to cover up the icing drips – or puddles, as was the case with the girls. Then I banished the kids from the kitchen, gathered up the mess in the tablecloth, and swept the floor! It was such a success that I do believe it may become an annual Christmas break tradition, much to our kids’ delight. :)
The gingerbread houses were the last of our holiday fun before returning to school and “normal” life – with the question of when our LT would leave yet unanswered. The remainder of the month did answer that question for us, and he’ll be leaving us on the original date his orders gave for this assignment. That was hard to hear, and I’d like to have a word with the civilian DOD employee who apparently dropped the ball, but I have to remind myself that God is sovereign even over inattentive DOD employees and will see us through a Thanksgiving apart. At least our LT was home for this snowy, frigid winter we’ve had; we’re glad we didn’t have to “weather” it without him. (The corniness is just for you, Dear.) And that is how the rest of the month flew by – in a haze of snow, electric blankets, books (I’ve read 6 already), school, meatloaf and chicken a la king, a first birthday celebration, soup and toasted cheese, lots of hot chocolate, and these three musketeers braving the single digits to frolic in the snow: