Oh, Sweet Nostalgia . . .

If you'd like to read a wondrous tale about my hometown at Christmas, I encourage you to click here. It's really (mostly) true and goes down in infamy as one of my favorite Christmas stories of all time.

Christmas is coming so fast and our schedule is clear this week (at least until Friday) and I am so glad. I feel like we've been hurrying and not savoring or delighting and wondering. This will be a good week for being homebodies, for baking and watching movies and hopefully not being so tired during our family advent celebration that requests for "adventus brevitus" are whispered.

I was in my hometown two weeks ago. My sister and her family still live there and it was a treat to take Mr. J and my nephew looking at Christmas lights. So little has changed-at least in the neighborhoods and it felt so much like visiting ghosts of Christmas past. We drove up and down the streets I biked on as a child, revisited familiar landmarks and I was encouraged and delighted to see lights on in the homes of people I still hold dear.

The strangest and perhaps most bittersweet part of our drive, was going past my grandparent's home. They owned a lovely ranch home in a subdivision built mostly by my great-grandfather. The house was the hub of our family's comings and goings. Even extended family from both sides congregated at "Mama Sue and Papaw's" for Thanksgiving, Christmas and every other excuse for a get-together.

When Papaw died young and unexpectedly, we were all broken hearted. Things at the house were never quite the same. Soon after, Mama Sue sold the house and moved down to Florida to be near my folks and my Uncle's family.

The other night, the house was brightly lit with three--count 'em!--three trees blazing with light and decorations. It was full and bright and homey, a beacon of light in a neighborhood that seemed much darker and lonelier and lacking in lights than in years past. As we drove by, an ache hit my heart. It was a longing for what has been, but perhaps more so for what is really to come.

I'll forgo the deep pondering that could burst from this line of thinking. Instead, I can get a bit giddy deep down because next Saturday is our family Christmas with Mama Sue and all the family. Our celebration looks different than years past (for one, my sister and I have grown the family considerably!), but there is this sweet and precious feeling of joy, nostalgia and comfort that comes with being with the whole family for "Blackwell Christmas." There is something about Mama Sue's hugs and smiles, the same food we always eat (cheeseball, tea cakes and fudge, anyone?) and having my aunts and uncles there--who really don't seem much older than me, now, but still make me feel like a kid. I absolutely LOVE this day of the year and Mr. T knows that nothing, no nothing comes before Blackwell Christmas. In this, I am a tyrant.


Crazy Ambition

I feel like a chicken with its head cut off trying to juggle eggs these days. Since Thanksgiving, and all the projects and fun surrounding it, I cannot get my head on straight! Tuan was out of town (North Carolina) for four days and we were bopping all over the countryside. Our house is a disaster of epic proportions--which MUST be tackled after this blog post--and there is so much left to wrap and do--let's not even mention Christmas baking. Just.May.Not.Happen.

Our Christmas shrubbery (read: free, stumpy cedar, cut from the woods, decorated and on our side table) is decorated and beautiful and we are eating off of the Christmas dishes and for now that is enough.

We are also on a CRAZY drive to save every extra penny and dollar and bit of change we can find, because T and I decided to take our two oldest to Disney World in January. We were supposed to go to North Carolina with T, but as we did the math on what even a frugal trip would cost, we decided that we'd rather put the money towards Disney! So, onward we go--we've given up eating out, Sonic Happy Hour, and grocery store treats. The freezer is being emptied of food and lots of rice, beans and baked goods are coming out of the kitchen. The kids are into it as well, especially Mr. J. Anytime he finds money, he runs for the Disney Jar. He cheerfully reminds me that we are "giving up Chik-Fil-A for Disney". Yes, we are, my child.

It's been convicting how much we can squirrel away by not eating out--very convicting and challenging. When you live so far from everything and everything seems to end and start around meal-times it is hard not to dash through the drive through or just give in to the call of the local Mexican restaurant. It's going to be a sweet reward though.