Spanning two weeks, three states and five different beds, here’s Mamamash’s fourth grade essay, “What I did on my Christmas vacation.”
Let me preface this by saying that over this holiday season, I did a few things differently. One, I deleted my Twitter, Instagram and for a time, Facebook accounts. I needed a break from the external noise and a chance to focus just on what was in front of me. Two, I don’t think I used my big fancy camera at all except for Christmas eve and morning. And three, I didn’t think about blogging during any of the festivities. I just sort of hung out with my family, completely immersed myself in the insanity and ate ALL the food.
So yeah, the pictures, they kinda suck. But they do give a pretty accurate portrayal of what this incredibly special holiday was like for us.
My mom, sister and nephews made the trek to Kansas City the weekend before Christmas Eve. They arrived bearing bags of citrus fruit, Christmas gifts and even a large Swiss Colony tray – a tradition we’d had as children that my mom thought it would be fun to start again.
I’m not sure if we would call this Christmas “The Pajama Christmas,” since we pretty much spent three days in our jammies indoors thanks to the freezing temps, or perhaps “The Christmas Poo Debacle,” since a water main in our neighborhood broke Christmas Eve morning, leaving about 50 houses without running water until late afternoon.
(FYI, it takes several gallons of water to make a toilet completely flush the morning waste of eight people, and the people at Walgreens will totally look at you funny if you keep popping in to buy more gallons all day, and you will definitely want to kill your husband when you find out he’d neglected to mention there was a full five-gallon bucket of water in the basement you could have used instead.)
We adopted a few new traditions (a Mexican casserole feast on Christmas Eve instead of gumbo, at my husband’s request, and a popcorn tin and Christmas movies before bed) and continued a few old traditions (driving through the Longview Lake Christmas light display, baking a birthday cake for baby Jesus and singing to him).
Christmas morning was the usual mad dash down the stairs (the adults looking for coffee) and slow plod through the hallway (the children, lured from their warm beds by the over-excited adults who were entirely too cracked out on caffeine to pay attention to the early hour) followed by a brief break to clean up wrapping paper, a long family nap and lots of playing throughout the evening.
Two days later, we loaded everything up into two cars to make the trip back to Texas with everyone. My husband had been unexpectedly called to work down there at the last minute, so we got to have one more visit with our extended family before the baby comes.
The drive was a little scary at times through Arkansas, which had received almost a foot of snow in places. Although the roads were mostly clear, there were a few mountain passes that required white knuckles and prayer. And of course, The Posh had to stop and get out to touch the “ice rocks.”
We stopped about eight hours into the drive to spend a night at a hotel, not something I normally do but definitely a welcome break from being cooped in the car. Third trimester traveling is frowned upon by my OB, but between this hotel stop and the eleventy hundred gallons of water I drank, I managed to avoid any pregnancy-related issues.
The little boys wreaked havoc in the hotel room together while the big boys went swimming downstairs with their mom, then we all passed out for a few hours before hitting the road again.
The visit to Orange was an absolute joy. There was no shortage of cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents to play with.
Sometimes play was gentle, like with the other little guys and girl.
Other times, it was wild and probably dangerous, like spinning chairs and dogpiles with the older boys.
Some cousins shared their toys willingly, others, not so much.
Not even if you hug them first and say please.
We got to help Meme peel shrimp for gumbo and help Aunt Jan grind pepper for steaks.
There were a few Texas-true moments, like finding a deer tail in the outside fridge, making sauces using produce from Pop’s own trees and driving back and forth over the majestic bridges between Bridge City and Port Arthur.
We even got to go to work with Daddy for a little while.
New Year’s was rainy and a little cold, but we still headed out to the country to blow things up with some friends. Living next to an amusement park has made Monkey pretty immune to the noise of fireworks, but he still enjoyed the “BOOM! BOOM!” they provided.
On the way back to Kansas City, we stopped for a night at the lake house. When we arrived we were greeted by a roaring fire and a gorgeous home still decorated for Christmas. And by decorated I mean decorated. Aunt Karen even has a Christmas tree in the bathroom. Oh, and yeah, that’s totally a Santa dressed in camo. Of course it is.
The next day hubs, Monkey and I set out for the longest part of the drive – the drive back to life as usual. As we snaked our way north among forests and mountains, I amused myself by snapping pics of such wonders of the world like snow-capped ridges and my husband’s massive beard.
About halfway through Arkansas, Monkey was totally over the drive. OVER IT.
So we stopped and let him run in an indoor playplace while we stretched our legs. Man, you give my husband a couple of McRibs and my son unlimited access to a slide and life is good once again.
I am thankful we made it home safe and mostly sane. It has taken us a few days to recover from the holiday, but life is up and running again as usual and we’re finishing up preparations for the newest member of our family, set to arrive in a couple of months. As you can see, I’m now more than a little bit pregnant, although some of that might be gumbo, and cookies, and Shipley’s donuts, and…