...and to all a good night -- well, not yet.
I thought I'd go to bed, but I just couldn't resist writing about one of the best Christmas Days ever. Why you ask? For several reasons, actually.
First, I'm with my family. The time here was certainly overdue. Only the people who have lived several thousand miles away from their families for more than seven years can understand this one. We were able to visit Brady's long-lost sisters, Julie and Alisa, and their families. We exchanged some cool toys, had some great food, and Kelsey and Genevieve even spent the night with their cousins! We were also able to celebrate my Grandpa Smith's 81st birthday with various cousins, aunts, and uncles.
Second, it's a white Christmas. As a Floridian, I have grown to love the convenience of year-round outdoor play. However, the fresh coat delivered last night was especially fun to watch as cars struggled up the hill in front of my parent's house. This has provided many hours of entertainment over the years -- and even a 911 call by me a few years ago. This year, Brady, my dad, and brother helped at least 5 cars, but we couldn't find the missing Blackberry somebody dropped while pushing their car out (yet).
The girls have also enjoyed making snow angels, snow people, and even shoveling. Genevieve asks at least three times a day to play in it, and would stay there all day if I'd let her. Kelsey just wants to find -- and eat -- icicles (yuck). Shelley mostly likes to watch her "sissies" and find dangerous places, like stairs. I usually let them, and even encourage it, because our time here is limited.
Third, Santa was generous this year. Thanks to my mom (and Dad, too) and other donors, this year was a dream come true for my kids. Not only do they get to be with their grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and second cousins, but they got just about everything they've wanted this year. It's no secret that this year has been difficult. Whenever my kids tell me something they want, I always say, "put it on your Christmas list," which is an acceptable substitute for "no" (it really works!). But, this year it actually happened.
I can't let this moment pass without expressing my love and admiration for my mom. My mom is the most generous and loving person I know. She would rather give my girls their dreams, than anything for herself. A few months ago my mom's 25 year old washing machine broke, so she replaced it with a super big one -- but not the dryer (well, it wasn't broke!). For my parents and brother this uneven situation is fine. However, between my sister and I and our kids, and Sienna's naps (she sleeps in the laundry room), the dryer has slowed things down a bit the last week or so. I made a comment about it the other day to my mom, who just shrugged. Today, I found out why. A super dryer means so little to my mom when compared to the look on Kelsey's face when she opened up her very first American Doll. Or when Genevieve opened the Fairytopia Barbie she's wanted for almost a year. Or when Brady opened up the Ipod he's drooled over for years. Or when I am able to run outside while she takes my kids to work every day, which is a sweet luxury for me.
And the list goes on...last year, she found out we couldn't afford to pay for one of my last classes to complete my bachelor's degree and the money was in the mail the next day. When I started a weight loss group earlier this year, she not only paid my fee, but sponsored the weekly prizes as well. My crock pot broke and she bought me a new one. She bought me clothes when I hadn't had anything new for months -- and you all know how much I love clothes!
But don't just think it's money. When I left for California the day after I was married, she got an 800 number at the store where she works so I could call her whenever I wanted. And I do. Now, she even got me a cell phone so I REALLY can call her whenever I want.
My parents don't have a luxurious house, or even very many valuable things in it. Instead, they give their luxuries away. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
And finally, Brady and I scored more than $550 in airline credit by changing our flight plans. With two family reunions in the works for this summer, we have plenty to plan for.
This Christmas has certainly raised the bar. How could it possibly get any better than this?