So I feel like I may have slacked a little on the holidays this year and I can't quite put my finger on it. Let's see, I spent Thanksgiving – the unofficial kickoff of the holiday season – in sunny Africa. Which just kinda started off Holiday Season 2009 on a different page than years past. I must have been relying on Turkey Day for "the spirit" more than I realized. I got back from my trip just in time for December and I felt so behind. I hadn't started my shopping, I hadn't decorated the house. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas always seems to fly by in a blur of parties and baking and shopping and traveling — and I couldn't quite keep up.
I convinced myself that a tree was not in the cards for us this year. Honestly, I didn't think it would be any fun for Colt to have to stare at a big, beautiful, shiny, blinking, dangling temptation every day for a month but get his hands spanked every time he indulged. So we didn't put up a Christmas tree. I did put up our stockings – which are one of my favorite things about Christmas anyhow. And we went to visit Santa. We didn't go completely humbug.
This time of year always carries with it a kind of heightened level of emotion. Families are together. Or not. It's the end of one year, beginning of the next so it's a perfect time to reflect on both the memorable and forgettable moments of the past twelve months and beat yourself up about them. And this year, the emotion was not lost on me. I teared up at each and every clip I saw of a deployed soldier wishing his family back home a Merry Christmas. And I subjected myself to the last ten minutes of Marley & Me about seven times. What a mess.
And on top of everything. The Pampers - Silent Night TV spot. It absolutely melts me into a pathetic little puddle of mush. And I usually see it twelve hundred times around the holidays. But this year – nothing. Not once. You know, this should actually be at the top of the list of pathetic reasons I feel like The Grinch this year. I didn't get my regular injection of peaceful widdle sweeping babies.
So anyway. I am committed. Christmas 2010 will be different. We will decorate a tree. We will go see Christmas lights and leave cookies for Santa. We will take pictures in our jammies. Next year, Colt will be old enough to really get into things and I look forward to seeing the magic of Christmas through a whole new set of eyes.
Now that I've put a good, solid damper on things — let's try to refocus. Despite my, ahem, minimalist attitude about Christmas this year, we had a holiday full of family and fun and memories.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more."
We left on the 22nd for Hood Christmas in Arkadelphia. It is the only time of year that all the Hoods get together in one place and these days there are 14 of us! The Atlanta Hoods made it to town right before us and we attended the 2nd Annual Holiday Steak Night at the Teeds'. Last year, Frank and John grilled steak for everyone (they kindly grilled me a chicken breast) and it was such a big hit that I believe it's here to stay.
Several months back I innocently suggested to Sarah and Lynn that we attempt a family photo at Christmas this year as the last time a photo was taken of all the Hoods was at Pop and Grandmother's 50th anniversary in 2004. Well I guess that's not even true because there's a photo of all of us at our wedding in 2006. Either way, it was high time. Little did I know how entertaining taking a photo of 14 people could be! We should do it EVERY year! If I had thought about it I would have been taking photos OF the photo taking – priceless! We don't have proofs yet, but of course I'll post them when I get them.
Colt was pretty excited about being allowed to rip things apart when it came time to open presents. It didn't take him too long to get the hang of it. Santa (and Aunt Lynn, Aunt Sarah, Courtney, and Grandmother!) was very good to him this year and we had a lot of fun.
That cellphone was a gift from Aunt Sarah. I have no idea how he knows how to hold it… so accurately…
Colt has been all about the kitchen lately, mostly trying his hardest to sit or stand in the 10 inch space between my feet at all times. I can't blame him. The kitchen has all kinds of interesting noises and smells and stuff to bang together. And Grandmother was more than happy to oblige. Here they are making meringue.
Colt spent most of his time chasing Grandmother around the kitchen or dancing up and down the hallway to the music pouring out of the Barney music game Grandmother left out for him. Quite the musical little guy. Once he figured out how to push the buttons and turn the pages on Barney - it was all over. I love that you don't have to teach babies to dance. They just bounce their little bottoms and wave their hands. Adorable.
The weather was downright crappy while we were in Arkadelphia. It literally rained the entire time.
See Arkansas in there, under all the "weather"? See the part where the yellow circle of Severe T'Storms Possible overlaps the red circle of Flash Flooding Possible? Yeah, that would be Arkadelphia. It rained over 10 inches in the 48 hours we were there. TEN. INCHES. And it was getting worse. The forecast for late on the 24th was looking like snow as we approached Northwest Arkansas so we loaded up and tried to beat the weather back to our house.
We made it back before it started snowing, and we woke up to the first White Christmas for Fayetteville since the 70s. Christmas Day was nice and quiet at our own house. We napped a little and played in the snow a little. Merry Christmas, Buddy!
The next day (the 26th) Grandma and Grandpa Martin and Aunt Becky arrived from San Antonio to celebrate the second half of Christmas! That night Grandma and Grandpa helped Santa assemble Colt's new tricycle.
And the next morning was another round of presents and wrapping paper and BOWS!
Aunt Laura sent Colt some shakers from Botswana. They are used in traditional Setswana dancing, wrapped around your feet. I think Colt is definitely getting the hang of them…
Grandma and Grandpa were able to stay for several days and it was so nice to get to visit with them. I missed their visit in November while I was in Africa so I hadn't seen them in a few months. And they got to spend a few days spoiling the little guy.
Grandma Martin thinks it is borderline child abuse that we don't give Colt baths. (He takes showers with Jeff. I don't remember who told us about this technique but we've done it since day one and it is CRAZY efficient.) So. Guess what Colt got for Christmas from Grandma!
And Grandpa's contribution. Always with the coffee. Over the course of a few days, Grandpa taught Colt how to use our coffeemaker. (And everyone knows you have to wear protective gear when making coffee.)
A lot of good food and a few movies later it was time for Grandma and Grandpa to head home. Merry Christmas everyone!
(We had to go over to Becky's apartment to take our family photo in front of a Christmas tree.)
I wasn't very good this year, but I sure appreciate all the laughs you sent me anyway. It's all I truly wanted for Christmas this year and you delivered – as always.
You're the best.