December 27, 2015

All The Christmas Things

I find that the older I get, the more emotional the Christmas season makes me... and the more exhausted too. This year was one of the loveliest on record.  It was full of all of our favorite people.  It was full of traditions.  It was full of wonder and amazement.  It was low on expectations and very low on crazy behaviors for the kiddo in our family who struggles with holidays.  Most of all, it felt like there were Hallmark levels of love on 88% of the days with 88% of the people at any given moment. That's a win in my book.

We started the season by trying to get the dog into the Christmas spirit.  Maggie was not amused.

Then our creepy elf, Steve, showed up. The children ooooohed and ahhhhhed and sometimes woke up extra early because they couldn't wait to see where Steve had moved while they were sleeping.  Sigh.  

 We trimmed the tree.  And I got weepy.  When the kids were toddlers and they'd put all the ornaments on the bottom 2 feet of the tree I would look at that tree and my anxiety would kick in and want to space out those ornaments.  Now that they are all perfectly spaced and beautiful, I miss the days where they were all jumbled onto two limbs at the bottom of the tree.

We love our little town to pieces.  Every year, they have a small town Christmas parade that goes down Main Street.  Kamron's office is on Main Street so we stood outside the office to watch the tractors and the marching bands go down the street.  

"Scarlett!  There is a camel right behind you!"  She did not believe us. 

The same day as the parade, we went to ring the Salvation Army bell.  The littles sang their little hearts out.  Miles is a hustler.

There was a little mix up the day we rang the bell and the JROTC also had a toy drive happening at the same store entrance.  I thought that it would be awkward for people as they walked in and out and there were multiple charities collecting.  Instead, the coolest thing happened.  People would walk to our bucket and put money in and then walk over the JROTC and give money there too.  As with most things in live, it's and/both instead of either/or.  I left that day thinking that people were just SO GOOD.  

Papaw David introduced Miles to The Three Stooges one day after school.  Life will never be the same. 

There is also this gem on my camera from the school break.

 One very sad thing has happened this month.  Our very beloved guinea pig, Phil, has become very ill.  Phil was a gift from Santa in 2011.  We believe that he was already nearly two years old at the time that Santa adopted him and brought him to us- which makes Phil a very old guinea pig.  Phil has developed some tumors and now has guinea pig cancer.  Our vet has us giving him pain medication and so far Phil still seems like a happy little pig, but it's only a matter of time.  We are grateful that Phil lived through Christmas.  We are trying to be prepared, but I know the children, especially Noah, will be devastated when Phil passes. He has truly been the sweetest, most wonderful little pet.

Miles was a wiseman at his school play this year.  Never has a wiseman been more adorbs. 

Every year over Christmas break, we work a puzzle.  Or, I should say, Kamron works a puzzle and the rest of us mostly watch him.  

For the last couple of years, we started decorating a second Christmas tree.  It houses all the ornaments the kids have made over the years.  It is full of popsicle stick crap and ripped up paper things with handprints on them.  Those things are some of my most prized possessions.  Several years ago, the kids colored Congolese flags for a party we were hosting and Miles favorite thing to stick in the tree every year is those flags.  

 Many cookies were made.

Papaw Gary asked Noah if he would do the honor of reading the Christmas story this year at the Terry family Christmas.  Noah took it very seriously and practiced and practiced because he wanted to get all the challenging words just right. He did amazing reading the story in front of all 71 family members.

We saw Santa at Kamron's work open house.   The kids all delivered their requests except Miles who panicked and couldn't remember anything he wanted. 

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care and Maggie thought it was the best. 

My mom came over to make gingerbread houses with the kids.  She used to have them over and do it at her house.  Now, she is older and wiser and she comes to us so that she can walk away from the mess.  Well played, mother.  I am on to you.

The last grocery run before Christmas is always a challenge.  Noah is the most organized of all my kids so he took charge of the clipboard and kept me on task :-)

Christmas eve morning we had Kamron's family over for a pajama party.  And light saber fighting.  And champagne at 10 am because Christmas. 

Aunt Kennethia got the kids a zipline to put in the woods.  That is going to be epic.

There was Christmas eve church.  

Finally, it was Christmas Eve Night.  Tucking the littles into bed on Christmas Eve is the only night of the year that the bedtime routine doesn't make me hostile.

I swore to myself that I would never do matching anything with my kids because I have made fun of my mom to no end for things like this:

But now that Sadie can wear women's sizes, something came over me and I bought us matching pajamas for Christmas.  We all declared it to be hysterical. 

The milk and cookies were put out and the notes were written and the welcome mat was rolled out for the big man. 

The big day was finally here!

Miles did not sit still long enough to get a single picture of him opening gifts.  Never in the history of ever has a child had more Christmas spirit than Miles did this year.  The kids all joked that Sadie, Noah and Scarlett had level 100 Christmas spirit.  But that Miles was at 204- off the charts for Christmas spirit.  


Noah asked me before Thanksgiving if I would get him a shirt and some paint because he wanted to make something extra special this year.  I have pretty much waited my whole adult life for one of the kids to make us something like this.

Christmas at my Granny Sadie's is one of my favorite things we do all year.  When I was little, we went to Granny's right after opening our Santa gifts and we would stay there all day playing with our cousins while the grown ups did whatever it is that grownups do.  My childhood home was sold when I was 20, but Granny has lived in the same house for 60 years, so walking in her front door feels like coming home... every single time.  My cousin, Kate ,used to say that "Granny's house is free" (because Granny let us make messes and do the things our moms wouldn't let us do) but now that I'm an adult Granny's house just has a different kind of freedom feeling.  It just feels good there. 

One of the grown up tables.  We sure do miss my Grandaddy Willard at this table. 

Miles and his cousin, Logan.  They are BFF's, partners in crime, and both just pure awesome. 

My mom and my step-dad David.  So many people have asked how David is doing.  About a month ago we found out that his liver cancer has metastasized to his sternum.  He's had a few surgeries and radiation and more chemo than one can count- and he's a champ.  What a blessing he is to us. 

Four generations of ladies.

My mom and I think we are hysterical.  Most people don't find us nearly as amusing and we think we are.  Whatever.  I heart her.

For the first time in many many years, not a single cousin was missing from Christmas.  We had to pile on the porch and document the moment.  

In years past, Christmas has been a really hard day for Scarlett.  Last year, she slept through the entire day. This year, a little cat nap on Granny's couch did the trick and she was back to celebrating.  Hallelujah.  Christmas miracle.

This is my cousin, Peggy.  She's probably the most positive person that exists in the wide world.  She is just a ray of light.  This year, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer that is now in her lung.  Cancer is just the worst stuff and our family has not had a good year with the big C.  Love you, Pegs.  You are a warrior. A very smiley, spunky warrior.

Once a year, Kamron cooks.

The day after Christmas we celebrated with my dad.  My brother is a former Army Ranger and his threshold for thrill is off the charts.  No one will get on the gator with him ever because we don't hate  ourselves.  The day after Christmas it was pouring rain.  He tossed me a rain coat and in a momentary lapse of judgement I took a ride with him.  I'm shocked I lived.

My dad was shocked I lived, too.  He said they could hear me screaming 20 acres away.   My brother just graduated with his masters degree and is moving next week to Arkansas for a new fancy pants job.  I'm so ridiculously proud of him but I am going to miss him and his adorable wife and their kids immensely.   I have already cried all the tears over it. As I was sobbing, my brother said, "It's going to be okay."  And I dripped snot and told him I knew it was going to be okay but that I hate change.  He said something utterly stupid like, nothing is going to change, it's just going to be completely different.  Boys. 

Mine and my brothers kiddos with my grandma Daisy and my GranGran.  How lucky are my kids to have great grandparents?  It's incredible. 

One last celebration with all the cousins.

Oh mom.

We model the jammies my mother in law got us like we were made for the runway (not).

As we wind down and get back to real life, I am ever so grateful for all these crazy people we get to have in our lives.  

... And to all a good night... 

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