Friday, January 14, 2011

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

I love Christmas: the decorations, the weather, the food, the people, the music. I love it all.  This year, I was very intentional about making memories to hold onto until the next Christmas we are all together (date unknown).  For those who don't know or aren't related to us, these pictures are meaningless.  To me, they are priceless.

One of my favorite traditions is our family ornament.  Every year, we get a new ornament, usually at a craft show.  They are often cheesy, but I love picking out the ornament with five of whatever it is on it--reindeer, stockings, snowmen--and then have our names added to it. (One year, I didn't make it to any craft shows. Thankfully, my dear friend, Cathie, took it upon herself to find our ornament that year.)  I know that one day the boys will have their own families, and I will give them the ornaments they made or that I bought for each of them through the years.  When that time comes, my tree will only have these family ornaments.  I'm pretty certain I will be glad I have them.

Another tradition we have is to buy gifts for the dogs.  Originally meant to occupy them while we opened presents, it's really now just entertainment for us to watch how quickly Liberty eviscerates her "baby" to remove the squeaker.  She will then carry the squeaker around for WEEKS until I get paranoid about her choking on it and throw it away.  For whatever reason, and this is really amazing considering we have Labs, they've always left our Christmas presents alone.  Maybe that's because they know they have their own.  As a bonus, the dogs don't seem to notice they don't get to open as many presents as everyone else does.

My boys get new pajamas every year for Christmas.  They open that one gift on Christmas Eve, and they somehow know it's going to be pajamas.  What started as a way to ensure pretty Christmas morning pictures, it has become something so much more than that.  It's now a part of who we are.  We are new-pajamas-at-Christmas people.  Additionally, it seems as though we are also don't-smile-for-the-pajama-picture people. Oh, well.  At least they each have nice, new pajamas for the don't-smile picture.

New this year to the family Christmas nap tradition is Dixie, Spencer's coon hound/bird dog.  She is absolutely beautiful.  Not brilliant, but beautiful.  And she adores Spencer.  I find myself wondering how she will get along when he leaves.  How long will she sit at the window and watch for his truck to drive up?  Or worse, see his truck in the driveway and continue to look for him in the house.  Come to think of it, how long will I sit at the window and watch for his truck to drive up?  I don't know, but she and I will watch together.  And when he does come back, I will cry tears of joy, and she will lick Spencer's ears.  In this instance, I'm glad I'm not a dog.

My future Marine.  Where will he be next year?  Tanner has quite a few adventures ahead of him, including, but not limited to: surviving the last few months of high school, surviving the last few months of negotiating the high school parking lot, his older brother's deployment, his own high school graduation, leaving for boot camp, and cleaning his room.  Sadly, the two most dangerous things are the high school parking lot and his room.  It will be exciting to watch this kid walk down his own path, and I know he will be a great Marine.  But to me, he will always be the boy in this picture.

Calder battled through some pretty tough stuff last year, and I was sad when he was sick over Christmas break.  However, I was thrilled for the opportunity to hold him for a little while at Dale's folks' house.  (I don't know if it can really be said that I was holding him since his feet were touching the floor, but my heart says I was holding him.)  This year will bring many changes for Calder as well.  Spencer and Tanner are not just brothers who are leaving; they are friends. As we walk through this next year together, I hope he lets me hold him some more.

I love the relation-ships my boys have with their cousins. They have done a lot together through the years: vacations, riding bikes, building tree houses and forts, going to movies, etc.  But my favorite is when they just hang at the grandparents' house.  It was precious to watch four teenagers sit in one room, no TV, no iPods, just drawing and sketching, each of them quite talented, and listen to their banter.  These kids really love each other.  That makes my heart happy.

If you know Dale as a quiet, introspective guy, you only know one side of him.  If you've ever played Rock Band with him, however, you know him as a rock legend.  In fact, for this picture, he wasn't even playing Rock Band.  The boys were playing their real guitars and singing Hotel California when Dale grabbed the Rock Band guitar and entertained us with the dig-me guitar riff. Dale and I have had numerous conversations about how life will change this year, but we pinky swore we would hold onto each other.  I am extremely blessed to know and be loved by someone so solid.  It's just a bonus that he is a rock star.

Not pictured is the Rock Band hilarity we had with our friend, Amy.  Also not pictured: the Jack Stack BBQ New Year's Extravaganza, the Apples to Apples Tournament to the Death, and the Gift Card Redemption Frenzy.  Sorry. A blog can hold only so much fabulosity.

May 2011 be a year of realized dreams, continued hope, and peace on earth.