Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Christmas Morning in Kentucky

Christmas in Kentucky isn't complete until two things happen...the puzzle bandits (aka Grandad Mike, Craig, me and Charley) complete a 1000 piece puzzle, and Amma gets mad at Grandad Mike for not helping with all the Christmas prep.  This year, the two went hand in hand!  The puzzle was extra fun and addicting, so we might have spent too much time working on it!  We stayed up late on Christmas Eve finishing it so we could have a place to eat, which meant we did not prep for the Christmas morning breakfast.  We actually left the puzzle on the table to show off...Amma wasn't impressed!  Luckily Grandad Mike makes delicious biscuits from scratch, so Amma didn't stay mad for long. 

We stopped by Uncle Kenneth and Aunt Eutonia's house on our way home to Tennessee, making for a Christmas I will never forget.  Aunt Eutonia was joyful and loving as she basically told us goodbye. She told Craig to take care of the girls, she said she was so proud of us, and she hugged us extra tight.      I thought we were going there to give support and comfort, but her example and blessing to my family was the true gift.  


Christmas Eve Dinner at Granny Katherine and Papa's House

It's not a secret that I don't love change.  I think there is a sense of security and identity in tradition, especially with families and holidays.  I have the most fond memories of Christmases each year, which is why I look forward to making those same, magical memories for my girls.  Eating, baking, wrapping, shopping, singing, and watching Hallmark movies with my very favorite people always fills my heart with pure joy.

Over the last few years I have begun to realize that Christmas, and holidays in general, have the potential to carry emotions that aren't always joyful and happy.  Each year I update my Christmas card address list with new friends and address changes, but there is one change I can't seem to make.  I can't remove names of people that have passed away.  As I address my cards, I smile and cry a little thinking of the precious people that I loved so much and now miss....Dink York, Irene Morgan, Euke and Nell Conner, Betty York, Marlene Shadowen, Sue Yates and Ann Thweatt are still on my address list, and I'm sure they will be for years to come.

I'm super sentimental and find myself thinking things like "this could be the last year things are the way I know and love," which is why I try to be intentional with how I spend my time with my family...especially for holidays.  I'm 33 years old and part of my story is that I've experienced very little loss.  I have all four of my grandparents, and the girls have seven great-grandparents...which is so rare and amazing.  During my lifetime, I've known things one way and the only change I've experienced has come from marriage or birth....until this year.

In early December, Aunt Eutonia was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and given six to twelve weeks to live.  We all knew that Christmas Eve dinner at Granny Katherine and Papa's House was going to be a tough night.  How do you celebrate a holiday or put on a happy face when you know someone you love will not be there next year?  Our solution...ugly Christmas sweaters.  Thankfully the family made it extra redneck...which was extra funny...which was super helpful in creating smiles on a night that was very difficult and full of emotion.  Aunt Eutonia wasn't feeling well, so she stayed home, but Uncle Kenneth and the kids came for a little while.  We made special memories, despite our sadness.

Christmas time will forever be a reminder of when Aunt Eutonia got sick, but hopefully our new, ridiculous tradition will continue to create smiles and laughter for years to come....I know that is what Aunt Eutonia would want.