Wednesday, December 29, 2010

You want Christmas, I've got Christmas

NJ is a long way by car from Tennessee but I'm so glad we decided to drive rather than fly this year. The airports were most definitely not the place to be Christmas weekend. We headed south on Wednesday and when I say we did not have one spare inch of space I am not kidding.

Oh the pup had plenty of was just us humans who were jammed in with bags beside us and between our feet and piled up over the windows and on top of the car. Dixie slept peacefully for most of the 12+ hour drive and that's what's important, right?

Daughter1 had to work up until Wednesday so she was making her own way over the mountain from South Carolina on Thursday. The weather cooperated and she arrived around lunchtime. Hubs was going to meet her so she could follow him up the mountain to the house but her gps told her to exit the highway far earlier than we anticipated and it brought her to us on some small winding mountain road that we'd have preferred she not navigate. Hubs and I passed the time wrapping, cooking, fretting and pacing. Do you ever stop worrying about your children? I'm afraid the answer to that question my friends, is no.

Now that daughter1 has left university life and entered the working world this is how holidays will unfold. Letting that thought sink in has been a process for hubs and I. A gradual awareness and acceptance of a new stage in life. But for the sisters this is a new thought. At some point during the morning daughter2 chimed in and said, 'I can't wait for daughter1 to get here!' My girls live in the same town and spend a lot of time together. I know mothers who say they feel like they are part referee but I have never experienced that with my girls. They are best buds and have been from the word go. Daughter 2 had been at home in NJ for over a week before Christmas and was missing her sister. And sister was missing her too.

The idea that one day they may not spend Christmas Eve and day in the same house is something they hadn't considered until recently. It dawned on them this holiday week that one day in the not too distant future they will spend Christmas in two different places. They will have homes to decorate and in laws to share the years and children of their own to create traditions and memories for too. We're all learning as we go in this growing up business.

Christmas Eve was so nice...we spent the day together enjoying the beautiful views from the cabin, finishing up the last minute wrapping, and preparing a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings. We ate late in the afternoon then headed down the mountain for church.

I think the Christmas Eve service is my favorite part of Christmas. I love the music and the calm and the quiet and the candlelight. The retelling of a story I've heard thousands of times that never gets old. The chance to step back from the activity of the holiday and think about why we are even celebrating in the first place. Life has a way of getting knocked off kilter sometimes and this is the moment I feel myself regain perspective.

Afterwards we headed back up into the mountains for the traditional opening of the Christmas Eve pjs, setting out treats for Santa, and finally Grandpa reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas with everyone gathered round.

Its special for my in laws to have all their children and grandchildren in one place. We're all so spread out and have been all of our married lives which means this doesn't happen very often.

We woke up Christmas Day to snow. I mean SNOW!!! It was absolutely beautiful. Truly, words do not do it justice. However, lots of snow means lots of inconvenience particularly when you are perched atop a mountain. We had hoped to just hop in the car and be down at the main house to open stockings at 7 am (little boys in the house can't wait much longer ya know!) but the icy weather and steep steep hills made this impossible. Thankfully the snow plow operator came to our rescue with door to door service...he brought the plow up the mountain and we followed him down. He did this several more times during our stay and not only that, he did it with a smile...gotta love that Southern hospitality!

Stockings were opened while we snacked on coffee cake followed by our traditional breakfast of sausage and egg casserole. More presents were opened...

and modeled...

and played with...the uncles used the excuse of 'playing with the nephews' but secretly they couldn't wait to get their hands on this particular toy.

We had lots of hors d'oeuvres later in the afternoon along with the leftovers from our turkey dinner and a honey baked ham thrown in for good measure. I feel like we should have purchased stock in Kraft back in November because my goodness, the amount of cream cheese we consumed over the holidays was staggering. I am happy to see lettuce and raw vegetables this week.

There is still a bit more to tell but I think I'll save the rest for part 3 since per usual, this post is getting long. I'm sure it would be better to record the Christmas festivities as they unfolded but who had time to be on their computer?

Technology is a beautiful thing.

So is real life.


  1. What a wonderful family Christmas you had! Love the pictures and your descriptions!

  2. When we travel our pups take priority, too! Hope you have an awesome New Year!

  3. Dixie looks SO cute! Sounds like a great way to spend Christmas.... the Smokey Mtns is one of my fave places on earth. Though, driving thru the mountains CAN get a bit hectic with snow. :-) Happy New Year!!!

  4. Cracked me up seeing everyone on the couch on their laptops.


  5. Great summary post of our Christmas holiday! We really enjoyed spending time with you and yours. The boys miss all the extra people around. Our house is quiet (not really!) Talk to you soon.

  6. oh Joyce I love the family picture! we took one too on Christmas eve and I will post it tomorrow night. Looks like a great holiday and NO you never stop worrying! :)

  7. You wrote: Dixie slept peacefully for most of the 12+ hour drive and that's what's important, right?

    Exactly! And if you've ever had to drive 12+ hours with a dog who didn't sleep peacefully, you'll appreciate whatever it takes to get them to sleep during the trip. Don't ask me how I know. ha!

    You also wrote: Do you ever stop worrying about your children?

    And the answer is, as you said, a resounding no. My daughter is 35, married, mother of 4 ... and still I worry about her. She used to fuss at me when I worried about her ... now that she's got 4 kids of her own, she realizes that worrying about your kid(s) goes with the territory! Once a mom, always a mom. ;-)

    Can't wait to see part 3.

  8. Loved reading about your wonderful SNOWY Christmas! We had a white Christmas in Ohio, too!
    BUT my favorite part was your "girl" on her bed in the back of the van, taking up the MOST space, of course! :-)
    It's good to have you back, Joyce! May you and your family have the best of New Years!

  9. That looks like so much fun! I love seeing the pictures of all your family and I especially like the one with everyone on their laptops. We have one of those from last year at the in-laws. Too fun!

  10. Lovely post, Joyce!

    You never stop worrying about the children.

    And it IS very hard when they have their own lives and Christmas traditions must change. The trick is to find new ones (traditions, not children) and make them part of your life forever afterward. It may not be the same timing, but you can still do many of the same things that you always did together.

    Happy New Year, my friend!

  11. It looks and sound like a picture-perfect Christmas and I understand how much you cherished the time together knowing that there will be changes in the future. The thing that will never change is the worrying :)

  12. Loved the coats! Loved the laptops!
    Loved that Daughter2 calls her sister "Daughter1"

  13. So wonderful that everyone was able to be together. Technology is a beautiful thing, indeed. A laptop on every lap... Looks a bit like our gatherings. ha. Your girls are so beautiful. I can't imagine my girls not being under the same roof as us on Christmas... makes me teary.

  14. I loved sharing your Christmas and the descriptions. I always wished that I had a sister but having 2 younger brothers wasn't all bad either. My baby brother and I are as close as any sister would have been and that probably because he's 13 years younger than me. I still adore him! :o)

    Love the picture of the dog! How cute!

    And, yes, technology is a beautiful thing. Me and my laptop are "best buds."

    It's been such fun getting to know you!

  15. Joyce, you all had a picture perfect Christmas. Some of your scenic pictures would make beautiful postcards! I know you have loved spending time with your girls. Tim's parents look so sweet and I'm sure you all had fun making memories with them, as well. And I love the picture of them with all the grandchildren.... priceless! Great family picture of you guys! Happy New Year! I too, hope that this is the year that we get to meet each other. That would be so much fun! Love & blessings from NC!

  16. What a beautiful Christmas you had and I'm so glad you had that. Have a Happy New Year.

  17. I think it's so neat that y'all get together every Christmas! Special times, for sure! Looks like y'all had a great time!

  18. Joyce, thanks for sharing your Christmas with us. I've yet to get the pictures off my camera.

    My oldest daughter is engaged and getting married in June, so this Christmas I was teary off and on at the thought of it being her last time to participated in the Advent calendar, the last time we would just be the Martens around the tree on Christmas morning, etc. I've had enough experience to know that the change will just be change and shouldn't be dreaded, but I've still mourned my little girl growing up a little. Thank goodness, the Lord never changes and is the constant we can count on! I love that! I pray you'll have a blessed New Year!

  19. What a wonderful holiday with family! This was our first Christmas without family and it was odd....! Christmas at a cabin in the mountains doesn't get better than that. Have a Happy New Year!

  20. Great pictures! Looks like you all had tons of fun.

  21. Looks like a wonderful Christmas. I have a sister and we are very close too, so I can identify with your daughters. I also love the Smokey Mountains. Many great memories there.

  22. Growing up is hard. This year was my first year trying to balance inlaws and my own family. We crammed it all in, but it was quite the day.

    Looks like you had a lovely Christmas.

    Marla @

  23. Good morning Joyce! Yes its good to be back blogging :) Your pics are just great, love the technology one :) Happy New Year! ~Deb

  24. Good morning Joyce! Yes it's good to be back blogging :) Loved your Christmas pics, especially the technology one :) Happy New Year!

  25. Looks like a great Christmas!
    You have a good looking family :)