Monday, December 25, 2006

a very merry christmas indeed...

Have you ever been sitting somewhere, and in your mind, all of a sudden, you find that everything is moving in slow motion. You notice everything...even tiny details of a person's facial expression. You see everything through different eyes; it is like you are trying to imprint a permanent picture of the scenerio into your memory. You fully recognize and appreciate the moment in which you find yourself....

That has happened to me several times this Christmas. I must say, this could be one of my favorite Christmases ever. What has made it so great? It wasn't the presents, and it wasn't the food. It wasn't that I had an abundance of activities to engage in... I really haven't done much with anyone other than my family. (I did go to a nice little get-together with the college kids from Central for a couple hours one evening, and I visited Huntsville for a couple of days.) Yeah, at a glance, especially compared with past years, this Christmas break could appear to be somewhat lacking... and that is what I kinda expected of it.

Then what was so great? Let me list some of the moments that stand out in my mind.

Saturday we had our big family Christmas party at Mamaw's house in Englewood. Every year we all get together, and every year the party is pretty much the same. One can always count on the sausage pinwheels and chocolate oatmeal cookies. There is always the revealing of the Secret Santas, and there are gift games. The kids exchange their gifts and play the famous gift games, and then the adults will exchange their gifts and play their games. For the past couple years I, along with the other cousins my age, have been included in the adult game. This year I noticed that there are almost as many of the "kids" participating as an adult as there are "parents." We are all growing up. This fact brings many new faces to the family as well... there are the new members that started off coming as boyfriends and are now husbands, and there are also, of course, the new little kids we've got running around. It's always crazy to see how much those little ones have grown.

Here's a breakdown of who all we've got at this festive occasion:

Mamaw. She has 5 children (my mom being one of them). All 5 are married with children. There are 12 grandchildren total. 5 of the grandchildren are now married. There are now 5 great-grandchildren and 1 on the way. That is 33 people crammed into Mamaw's house.

Usually everyone divides up. Women around the kitchen table and others on the couch, some of the men watching football, others on the porch, others mingling. Little kids running around outside and in the back bedroom, and older kids mingling with the adults and in the front bedroom. It is always fun, but you never really feel like you spend quality time with everyone. This year was different. By the end of the night everyone was piled in the living room...and I mean piled in. Crammed into doorways, sitting on each other in the floor... We were watching ourselves 15 years ago. Aunt Cheryl had made Mamaw a DVD of home videos from Christmas 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994. I can't describe how that felt. To see myself at age 6, and then turn and see my cousin's little girl who is now 6. To watch my aunt's eyes well up with tears as we watched Papaw open presents with us little grandkids helping him. Having to wipe away my own tears as I looked around the room... having to wipe them away even now... Wanting to take in everyone's reactions... wanting to take in the smiles, the tears, the laughter, the jokes... Knowing that a video or a photograph could never capture all that I would want it to... It was........ yeah....

Sunday was a special day too. Christmas Eve. Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Paula came over around 5 and we had some fingerfoods and desserts. It was a nice visit, but it was not nearly as special as what happened after that.
Grandma and Aunt Paula are members of the Luthern church, so every year they have a special Christmas Eve candlelight service. This year, we decided to go with Grandma to the candlelight service. She was so so so excited. It absolutely made her Christmas to have her family join her. And that was special. To top it all off, Grandpa decided that he would come with us all as well. If you only understood how beautiful it was too have us all sitting together. Grandma's face beaming as she introduced her family to everyone.... And being there with Grandpa.... a very big thing. Such a good Christmas present!

Today: Christmas Day we woke up and had a good time exchanging gifts and being the silly Lupos we are. After a relaxing morning, we headed over to Grandma and Grandpa's house for our Christmas there. (It is just a street over, not a far drive at all.) We ate, and exchanged gifts, and yes, played gift games. It was a very nice afternoon. However, my favorite part of the day came after all of that.

I love my grandpa. He is a quiet man. Simple. He always wears his kaiki pants with his dress shoes, dress socks, and his brown colored, plaid, button-up shirts. He watches and plays golf. He has trouble hearing and he doesn't enjoy loud noises. His catch phrase of my life is "quiet: the baby's sleeping." I am fascinated by my Grandpa. I find myself just watching him, trying to figure out what he is thinking...trying to imagine what he was like 54 years ago when he met my Grandma in a classy dance club in New York. Yeah, my Grandpa's a Yankee. He doesn't usually say much, but tonight was one of those special nights where we got to learn more about Grandpa.

You see, Grandpa is an artist. For my 16th birthday, I asked him for a painting made special for me. As the oldest grandchild, I started a tradition. :) For as long as I can remember, I have been in awe of Grandpa's art studio. It is the special room in their house where he enjoys his solitude and his art. One day I will have a room like that. Tonight Dad, the sisters, and I ended up in the art studio with Grandpa. He told us all kinds of stories about his life and growing as an artist... how it started when he was in the 6th grade... about the famous artist that gave him lessons for 3 years... He even showed us his work from those lessons. It was an amazing evening...

So those are three things that made this Christmas the best ever. And the break is far from over... Wednesday I get my wisdom teeth out, Friday my dad turns 50, January 3rd the sisters and I are going line dancing with Grandma and Aunt Paula..haha... I guess we shall see what other surprises this Christmas break has for me.

I hope you all have had a wonderful, blessed Christmas!(And I am thinking I need some plans for New Years if anyone has any ideas.)