I actually wrote this post on the evening of Christmas Day. However, due to the winter storm mentioned in the letter below, I've been unable to post it until now. We are actually into Day 4 of no electricity, and the electric company is saying it could be 2013 (literally!) before we have our power back. After three nights of sleeping on a mattress on the floor in front of the fireplace, we decided to head someplace warmer, and this evening, we are comfortably settled into Brad's grandmother's old house in Briggsville (where our While We're Waiting Dads' retreats are held). We have the heat on high, I've got clothes in the washer, we are looking forward to hot showers, and we have Internet! Amazing how exciting it is to flip a switch and have the lights come on after four days in the dark! Anyway, I hope you all had a warm and wonderful Christmas, and enjoy this little peek into ours.
Well, another Christmas has come and gone. Can’t believe this is the fourth one we’ve celebrated without you here. Let me tell you … it’s been a memorable Christmas!
As soon as school was out this past Friday, we loaded into the car and headed to Grandma & Grandpa’s house for the Sullivan family Christmas. Bethany’s boyfriend, Brad, came with us. I know you remember Brad … He was in your class at school, and used to sit at the same lunch table with you. It’s kinda funny … I always wondered if the two of you might end up together … it never crossed my mind that he and Bethany would possibly end up together! They’ve actually been dating for a year and a half now, and who knows … this could be the real thing! Sometimes it gets a little confusing since he and your dad share the same name, so we call him “Other Brad.” Even the cousins have started calling him that!
Anyway, we had a great time with all the family in Van Buren. On Saturday, we celebrated Faith’s fourth birthday. I know … can you believe she’s four years old already? The last time you saw her, she was just a tiny little baby. And I suppose you know about Madison … she’s about six months old and has the chubbiest cheeks you’ve ever seen! Grandma & Grandpa rented a bounce house for the afternoon and all the cousins and the uncles jumped around in it. Faith got a t-ball set for her birthday, and of course, her uncles opened it up, and they and all the cousins played softball in the yard with it. We all had a good laugh about how much you would have enjoyed playing along with them … even though as Dad fondly remarked, “You couldn’t hit a watermelon with an ironing board.” I remember how you would laugh so hard at yourself sometimes you could hardly stand up.
On Saturday evening we went to “Mr. Scrooge”, a musical production put on by Grandma & Grandpa’s church. It was really good and reminded me so much of when you had a role in “It’s a Wonderful Life” back when we lived in El Dorado. That was so much fun!
On Sunday morning we had breakfast and then Christmas in our PJ’s. Well, those of us who remembered to bring presentable PJ’s wore them anyway. Bethany woke up that morning with a fever, which took a little fun out of the present opening. We all talked about the fact that this will be the last Christmas with all of the cousins as “kids.” Next Christmas, Bethany and Emily will be high school graduates and halfway through their first year of college. Hard to believe, isn’t it? After all the present-opening chaos was over and the wrapping paper, bows, and boxes had been cleared away, we spent some time talking about you and how your life had changed our lives. Everybody misses you, girl. Christmas is just not the same without you. Since you’ve been gone, there have been no cousin nativity plays or sing-alongs around the piano with Grandma. Nobody seems to have the heart for it. I know I don’t. We took off soon after that, wanting to get Bethany home and hopefully feeling better.
On the morning Christmas Eve, we were awaked by Bethany, who had a 102 degree fever. She spent the entire day on the couch, and only brightened up a little bit when Other Brad came over to see her. He ended up spending most of the day over here, leaving only to attend the Christmas Eve service at his church with his folks. Our church also had a Christmas Eve service, and guess who the speaker was? Dad! He talked about the hope, peace, and joy we can have because the Christ child came to earth. He made a great point about the fact that peace and joy is only available to us because of the hope that Christ brings. I only know this because I typed his notes … I didn’t actually go to the service. I stayed home with Bethany. She was too sick to go to church, and I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving her home alone on Christmas Eve! It kind of reminded me of all those times we spent at home together while you were sick. The rest of the world just seemed to go on by back in those days.
Both Dad and Other Brad came back to the house after the church services, and we spent the evening opening our presents. I actually hung a stocking this year for Other Brad, and bought him a few presents. It felt good to shop for two kids for a change, after shopping for only one for the past few years. I think Bethany liked all her gifts … her favorite was probably a Keurig coffee maker. Since she’s the only one in the family who likes coffee, it only makes sense to brew one cup at a time. And she can take it to college next year, so she can stay up late and study for those final exams!
After we opened presents we watched a couple episodes of Duck Dynasty. You’d love Duck Dynasty … the men on that show are totally obsessed with hunting. They would remind you so much of your Dad and your uncles! They all have long hair and beards. Dad started growing a beard during deer season this year, and still has it … He actually kind of looks like he belongs on the show! I think you’d be surprised at how much
white silver he has in his beard now! You remember how he used to laugh out loud
when we watched America’s Funniest Home Videos … well, he does that when he
watches this show. It makes it twice as
funny for the rest of us watching it.
After that, Bethany was ready for bed.
She was still feeling pretty rotten.
So, finally we get to Christmas Day. All week, the weatherman had been forecasting a white Christmas, but you know how they are … they kept changing their predictions. One day, they’d say it was all going to go north of us, the next day, it was all going to go south of us. One day, it was going to be 8-10 inches, the next day, it was 1-3 inches. Thankfully, Bethany felt much better when she woke up today, and planned to head over to Other Brad’s house to open presents with his family. By about 10:00, light freezing rain was starting to fall, so Dad drove her over there. He came back home, and we spent the day relaxing and watching the ice gradually begin to build on the tree branches. By the afternoon, all the trees were glazed with ice and the wind began to howl. Of course, Bethany was snowed in at Other Brad's house by now ... you know she hated that! ;-)
Anyway, by 3:30, the power went off, and we knew we were in for a long, cold evening. You know how Dad always has to go exploring when something exciting is going on, so the two of us loaded up in the car and went for a drive. There were limbs and trees down all over the Cove … it was no wonder the power was out! We drove on into town, and wouldn’t you know it, the Waffle House was open. On the spur of the moment, we decided to stop there and eat. We had a good laugh about eating Christmas dinner at Waffle House. After that, we headed home, got the fireplace stoked up really good (so thankful we have one!), and played Dominoes by lantern light. We dragged the guest room mattress into the living room, and we’re planning to sleep in front of the fire tonight. At last check out the window, we have eight or more inches of snow.
Christmas sure has changed for us since the days when you and Bethany wore your matching red plaid flannel PJs and dragged us out of bed before daylight to open presents. When you left, we went through a huge transition in the way our family celebrates the season … and now that Bethany is growing up so quickly and will soon be leaving home, we are finding ourselves transitioning again. They say that change is a necessary part of life, and I suppose that’s true. I would give up everything I have to go back to those red flannel PJ days … but I know that’s not possible. And how could I ever ask you to give up everything you have now to go back? No, I love you too much to do that.
And so we wait with perseverance, as Romans 8:25 says, until the next big transition in our lives. And that will happen when that Christ Child, born as a helpless baby, returns triumphantly to retrieve His bride. Now that’s a transition I can get excited about!
I love you, Hannah My Joy, and I miss you.