Last Thanksgiving I rode back to TX with my best friend and his wife and a few days later said goodbye to my best friend as he deployed. I spent the next two weeks with his wife (Allan's best girl friend) before flying to Birmingham. The next morning I threw a baby shower with Allan's mom at her house for Jodi (Allan's younger brother Adam's wife). By the time I got home that night I was packing my bag again, dropping Allan off at the airport, and leaving for the farm. The next few days we took turns sitting with NeeNee as she continued to decline. She passed away on December 16, 2010, around 1 AM. That morning I wrote her obituary and called Allan's coworker to see if there was a way to get a message to Allan. Due to work Allan wasn't able to fly home in time for the funeral and due to pilot training Rachel (my sister) was husbandless as well for the funeral.
Rachel and I stayed home until Christmas Day and I have to admit that driving away from the farm on Christmas Day was the hardest thing I've ever done. It was all I could do to make it through Christmas with Allan's family without losing it. The next day I practically collapsed onto Lucky crying like a small child when we got home. Our house felt so cold and empty with no sign of Christmas except for our tree Allan had put up with only orange and blue lights on it. My favorite part of the year normally filled with so much happiness had been filled with so much heartache. I remember crying and wishing for it to be Christmas 2011.
I say none of this to be depressing but to explain why this year I pulled out nearly all the stops decorating the house and spent the entire year searching for all the right gifts for everyone. Several of my most cherished memories are from Christmas Eve at NeeNee & Pa's and Christmas morning at home with Mommy, Daddy, and Rachel. NeeNee and Pa normally arrived by 10AM to see what Santa brought and to eat lunch with us. There have been moments these past couple of weeks where I've been curled up in the chair looking at our tree and listening to Christmas music and I could almost hear NeeNee rattling off the Christmas menu to all of us and Pa saying prayer before the meal.
For me this year is about reclaiming the joy of Christmas that the little girl inside of me still holds on to. It's reading the story of the birth of Jesus and picturing what it must have been like to have been there in that moment. It's about the joy captured in the moments with family and friends where love and laughter are plenty. It's snuggling fireside with Allan and Lucky (Sasha gets too hot so no snuggling for her!) and knowing that I have everything in the world in my arms. It's the look on my parent's faces when we arrive for Christmas and they rush out to greet us. It's the phone calls on Christmas from my two best friends that truly know me better than anyone and will love and defend me forever. It's holding our niece and watching her eyes light up as she looks at the Christmas tree and its many ornaments. That's what this Christmas is about for me...