The holidays are always kind of a challenge in our home. Kellen’s parents live on the Oregon Coast and most of my family lives in the Texas Piney Woods. Every holiday season, that means we make 2 pilgrimages to remote backwoods locales to spend time with our loved ones. We alternate which family we spend Christmas and Thanksgiving with. This year, we hosted a Thanksmas with Kellen’s family at our home, since we were in the middle of moving, and for Christmas, we were set to head up to Northeast Texas for my family’s festivities.
Because we weren’t going to be in our home for the holidays, we did a small Christmas celebration on the Sunday before, just the three of us. Santa made a special delivery, so Isla could get her new art table, a coloring book, and a stocking full of fruit and veggie squeezies, and we opened presents from Kellen’s grandmother in Washington state. It was a sweet, simple celebration, just like I wanted.
Early on Christmas Eve morning, we loaded up the car and headed off on a 6+ hour road trip, hoping to make it to my grandmother’s for my family’s annual Christmas get-together in Northeast Texas. We made great time, and I even had time to shower and Kellen was able to make a beer run before we left my mom’s for my grandmother’s.
My mother comes from a big family. She’s one of 3 siblings, who are all married and for the most part have children, some of whom have also married and had children. So at Ma’s (my grandmother) house this year, there were the 4 kids and their spouses/partners, 5 of the grandchildren and 3 spouses, and 2 great-grandchildren. Plus 2 of my uncle’s dogs and Prissy Britches, my grandma’s crotchety old cat.
This is one of my favorite traditions from my childhood, my entire family gathering at my grandmother’s. There’s always lots of good food and laughter and tons of presents to open. Isla had a great time with all the people around and especially enjoyed playing with her 2nd cousin, Parker.
We didn’t head back to my parents’ until well after Isla’s bedtime and left with a car-load of goodies. When we arrived at my parents’, we got Isla all snuggled up and sent off to bed, and the rest of us followed not too long after.
Isla got a second visit from Santa on Christmas morning and the rest of us opened presents from one another. My brother, who is in the Air Force, was there this year along with his dog, and our dog Pippin was there, too. My mom has 3 cats, as well, so it was sort of like being in a barn. We had a great time, had a big breakfast of bacon, eggs, and sausage balls, and eventually all got showered and cleaned up for my mom’s family to come over again for Christmas day lunch.
The folks who were still in town and didn’t have other family to visit swung by for a leftover lunch. I honestly missed most of it, because between a cold and my mom’s cats, I was so sick I could barely breathe. I took a Benadryl and went to lay down for just a minute, and when I woke up everyone had gone home except my grandmother!
The rest of our time at my parents’ passed peacefully. I was really glad my brother got to come in for Christmas this year. Because I alternate Christmases in Texas, and my brother’s job in the military means he isn’t always able to be home for the holidays, it’s been a while since we’ve had a Christmas together. This year was extra bittersweet because my parents will be selling the home we grew up in after the new year, so it was wonderful to get one last Christmas, which was always such a special time of year in my family growing up, with my whole family in our old house.
We did one last dinner with my grandmother and cousins before we had to head back (mm mmm, catfish!) and got up early Saturday morning to make the long drive back to Austin.
Now Kellen, Isla and I get a few quiet days at home together until the New Year. We don’t have any big festivities planned for New Year’s. I am almost positive we won’t make it to midnight. It’s nice to have a little downtime with my favorite people, though, and to get to soak in the joy and comfort of the holidays for a few more days before we all have to get back to reality.
Here are some snaps from our holiday trip to the backwoods.