It’s been an entire week since I’ve posted (the longest I’ve gone since I started this blog) and I’m not even going to apologize for it! (smile) I’m hoping that you’re not checking as regularly as you might otherwise be because you’re doing the same thing I am—enjoying lots of pajama time with loved ones!
I’ll do a quick rundown of the past week and catch you up. Last Tuesday we started what I think will become an annual tradition: our Courage Reins Christmas open house. Several years ago, Sterling became involved with a local group—Courage Reins—as a volunteer and member of the board. Briefly, the organization works to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities through therapeutic horseback riding and other equine-based activities.
Sterling and I have always worked to teach our girls how important it is to serve others. We believe this helps develop gratitude for what we have and an awareness of others and the role we all must play in reaching out to those around us. Now that we’ve got grandchildren, we wanted them to have the same opportunity, so our Courage Reins open house was a wonderful opportunity for our grandchildren to meet others who may be a little different from them.
We invited all the Courage Reins volunteers, riders, and their families to the open house. The grandchildren listened to a few volunteers talk about why they loved what they did and loved the kids they worked with, and then the grandchildren gave out gift cards to the riders and Rice Krispie treats and hot chocolate to everyone.
It was a fabulous event! We loved watching our children and grandchildren interact with the Courage Reins riders, and we’re already looking forward to next year.
Wednesday was Christmas Eve, and after the typical scurrying around to get all the last-minute things done, we hunkered down at home. Sean and Sara and their kids and Sage and Jason and Kona all stayed at our house. Shalae and Jon only live a couple of miles away, so they came for Christmas Eve activities (NOT dressed in pajamas; Shalae completely forgot that was our tradition!) but went home to sleep in their own beds. (Nate and Megan were in southern Utah for Christmas but joined us on Saturday and Sunday.)
We laid out a lot of finger food and nibbled all night long while we watched Christmas movies, ending the evening with a Christ-centered movie. When the kids went to bed, the grown-ups stayed up a little longer, finishing up the late-night gift duties and watching another movie. It was laidback and relaxing!
The kids woke up fairly early on Christmas Day, and we opened the Santa gifts before calling Shanna in Spain. (Missionaries are allowed two phone calls a year—one at Christmas and one for Mother’s Day, so this was a significant event.)
I have to say hearing Shanna’s voice was the highlight of the day for me. She sounded great! She’s had a few health problems, but she sounds like those are hopefully improving, and she’d had a wonderful Christmas Eve with a family they used to live with. The sweet family, which had very little money, spent way more than they should have on a dinner for Shanna and her companion. The evening was full of love and sacrifice, and Shanna said that if nothing else good happens her entire mission, this one experience will have made the entire time worthwhile!
We probably talked to Shanna way longer than we should have, but I didn’t want to say good-bye—and she didn’t either! The grandchildren were fairly patient, especially considering that they still had unopened gifts they were anxiously waiting to tear into! Eventually we hung up with Shanna and finished opening presents.
We had agreed the night before that, unlike previous years, we would actually stay in our pajamas the entire Christmas Day! I loved it! Shalae and Jon and their children had come appropriately dressed this time, and we spent the ENTIRE DAY in PJs! We even had our traditional dinner, complete with the Christmas china that Mom Heather had given to me just before she died, wearing only our comfy nightwear. It was great!
Although we did get dressed on Friday and Saturday, it was mostly more relaxing and playing with family. On Friday, Sara and the kids went to the movie while I tended Stella. That night, the boys (Sean and his sons) went to a friend’s house for an almost-all-nighter video game party, and the Sara, her girls, Sterling, and I watched another movie and munched on caramel popcorn.
On Saturday, all the adults went out to dinner to celebrate Jon’s graduation. We take all the kids out when they graduate from college—the graduate gets to choose the restaurant. Jon chose the Melting Pot, a yummy fondue restaurant in downtown Salt Lake. We went to an early dinner to miss the crowds, so we got back home early enough to fit in yet another movie. (I watched more movies this week than I have almost the whole year!) The kids were in bed, so it was just Sean and Sara, Megan and Nate, and Sterling and me. (Sage and Jason and Shalae and Jon went back home after dinner.) Megan and Nate fell asleep before the movie ended—they were exhausted!
Today, I’m reluctantly heading back into the real world. We have meetings in Washington, and I’m working on my Leadership Conference presentations and projects too. It’s been hard to get back into the swing of things, but I’m so grateful for the few days’ break and the wonderful chance to spend time with the most important people in the world—my family!