Official warning: I'm about to try and capture this past wonderful week in the next three blog posts. No doubt, I won't be able to do justice to our big wonderful, unorganized, crazy, way less that perfect Southern family Christmas and for sure only the stout-hearted will make it to the end of the triology, but at least you've been warned. Oh-- and FYI, Rusty Guenard and his girlfriend, Jill, didn't make it in and Blake's sweet wife Rachel was too sick to make the trip so I simply must stop here and say "WE MISSED Y'ALL!" And now, let the remembering begin...
For me, the Christmas season officially began with the children's Christmas play held at my parent's church, (Nanee and Papa). For it was there at Melbourne Baptist Church, many years ago now, where I tapped my patent leather, lacy-sock adorned feet in time with the Christmas carols and took in the wonder of Christmas for the very first time. For this lover of words, it remains the greatest story of all time. God, stepping into flesh to open a door that would bring His people unto Himself. Over and over this season I've found myself meditating on a definition of mercy I recorded in a recent Bible study. Oh, friends, do let this speak to you. Mercy: God's immediate and special response to the misery that is the consequences of our own sin. WOW in caps.
But back to Melbourne. My sissy and her husband, Rick, along with my niece Hillary and her babies, Emery and Jackson, have moved home this year. (Let all God's people say Amen!) This year, at the Melbourne Christmas play, Emery the Cow, and Jackson the little lamb, in full costume, along with a large contingent of other Melbourne children, gifted us with a most precious rendition of the Christmas story. Oh, how we laughed as the rambunctious cow and the sheep joined the rest of the children's choir, a frisky donkey and a camel/rhino, angels, readers, and a narrator. (Clarification: the camel/rhino would be a little fellow who posted his objections to being a camel and stated preference for being a donkey a little late -- the donkey outfit had already been taken. He wore half of his Halloween rhino outfit and home-made donkey ears instead.)
My daughter Jessica Ann, her husband Patrick, and my grandson, Grant the Baby Beau Czar, came in a few days later to join me and Pops, my son Phillip, his wife Carey, and Emerson the Bellerina Czar, and Christmas was fully on! The next event on the calendar was Nanee and Papa's Christmas where the whole extended funky bunch gathers to meet, eat, and greet and there was plenty of all of that going on. Forgive me, but I really can't resist commentating on the pics.
Uncle Rod and Aunt Carmen enjoy the fun!
Emerson Ann says, "COOL!"
Hillary and Blair with Blake hamming it up
"Notice, Ruthie and Cyn are trouble, but I'm not!"
The Mahers oblige me with yet another family pic!
Daddy daughter moment
"Keggie, everywhere I look, there you are with that camera!"
Ryle and Kristin keeping it real.
Gene is no where near as evil as this makes him look!
Grant Thomas needs a Daddy fix!
Nana Parker poses with my man!
Cuzin Blair and Emerson Ann
Nanee and Jackson opening gifts
Cyndie and Jackson, ignoring someone's hand. (Is
that you, Hillary?)
Rhonda's kids, left to right-- Blake, Blair, and Brad
Hillary and Emmie in foreground, Cyndie, Jackson and Papa
in the rear.
Emerson shows her Christmas dress to Aunt Kristen
Grant still dissing all gifts in favor of $1 toy in
Emmie loves her Cousin Brad
Me and my Blair!
Nana helps Emerson open a gift
Cyn and Rick looking good in the neighborhood!
The Wonderful Papa opening his new rifle
I love this man!
The great Nanee of the bunch looking like
anything but a great grand in her new shades!
Oops! Caught 'em kissing and no mistletoe
Thanks Nanee and Papa! It was crazy, wild, wonderful and unforgettable. Another one for the books! Thank you for consistently setting a wonderful example for your family. Your love for each other sets a high bar and I'm grateful for it, but the greatest blessing you've given this family is a heritage of faith in Jesus Christ, the Lord. We thank you. We love you.
"A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness." Proverbs 16:31
P.S. Consider me corrected. I just got a rather harassing phone call from the sister who wasn't mentioned by NAME in the opening to this blog. That would be my middle sister, Rhonda Arlene. She had pictures; she had captions, but no "mention". (This is the kind of thing that happens when you nickname a person Pretty Woman in her childhood.) Henceforth, let it be known throughout cyberspace that Rhonda came in all the way from the Big D and we all felt so fortunate to see her lovely and accomplished self with her handsome friend Gene and her beautiful kids, Blake, Blair and Brad. (All better now, Nana?)