I probably won't recount with as much detail as before, but I will jot down some of the highlights from our first holidays in Kentucky. For Thanksgiving my Dad, Mom, Grandma, and sister all flew in for a week. My older sister lives here and she hosted them, since our home is still a construction zone. She also graciously hosted our Thanksgiving feast. Grandma kept us busy shopping antique stores. She wanted to help us get our homes in order since things feel in a bit of disarray from the move. The kids soaked up all the Nana and Granddad time and brought them to all of their events throughout the week. Abigail also loved playing with the kids and getting some much needed sister time. We weren't ready to say goodbye when the time came. It's been so hard living away from them and to have to say goodbye and not know the next time we would see them was painful, especially for the kids. The tears came strong and hard and I tried my best to comfort the kids, but I'm realizing this is just something I have to walk through with them. There is no way around the pain. I often feel helpless, but those are the times I am reminded to keep going to God in prayer. I've also never loved FaceTime more, sometimes I really do love technology.
We knew we wouldn't be traveling for Christmas, since this is some of Caleb's busiest times at work. It was the first time we haven't spent it with our families and I was a little sad, but I was also excited for our first Christmas just us. I worked hard thinking of ways to fill some of the void the kids were feeling and to create our own new family traditions.
We went to Franklin, Tennessee for their Charles Dickens Christmas Festival. It was fun getting away with the kids and exploring a new city. It was a quick trip and we look forward to going back. We found the cutest donut shop and the kids were pretty excited. The donuts were huge though and I don't think anyone could finish theirs. We also ran into Santa. We've never made a big deal out of Santa Claus, but the kids were happy to take a picture with him and get a candy cane.
Cutting down our own Christmas Tree was a highlight. We hadn't done that with the kids yet, so it was special to start that this year. I grew up going to the mountains and cutting down a tree. Those are some of my favorite memories, hiking through the snow searching for the perfect tree, sledding down some incredibly steep hills, and being with my family. I would love to take the kids to the woods someday, but this tree farm did the trick this year.
Caleb did end up with a pretty full schedule around Christmas, but he did have a long weekend, which I wasn't expecting, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. We filled it with Christmas cookies, hot chocolate, sleeping under the tree, popcorn and a movie, reading, and my favorite, was our Sunday morning Church service. Christmas falling on a Sunday changed our day a bit, but we liked it.
I told the kids my Christmas wish was for a picture of all four of them. They didn't complain as I shot away, but I can't say they stayed completed still and adding a baby in the mix wasn't easy. We got a couple though, and even the not so perfect ones I love.
This year had me reflecting on what makes Christmas feel like Christmas. It was like starting from scratch, what kind of traditions do we want for our family? What kind of memories will we create with our kids that they will have for a lifetime? How do I foster a love for the best things about this seasons in my kids? It was hard knowing how homesick they were, while I was feeling the exact same way. Vanessa, who hasn't been emotional at all about the move, started crying when I turned on Christmas music for the first time. She said it reminded her of Idaho and she didn't want me to play any music we listened to in Idaho. I wondered for a moment if we could just forgo the holidays this year.
Being in a new place, where nothing is familiar, relationships that haven't developed yet, the house being a construction zone, and raw emotions from missing loved ones, made this Christmas rooted much more in what I know to be true about this season, than the warm, fuzzy, feelings that surround the holidays. It was good for me to have so much stripped away and be left there. I'm learning that in seasons of trial, there is no way through, but to just walk. It's a day at a time, one foot in front of the other. It reminds me of one of the books the kids love me to read to them, We're Going On a Bear Hunt. The family has to walk through many different kinds of terrain, and at the beginning of each new thing they are faced with they say, "We can't go over it.We can't go under it. Oh, no! We've got to go through it!' That's what this season since we moved has felt like. But there's something happening when we as a family walk the road together. In the middle it's easy to loose sight of what's it, but in moments of reflection, you can see the work God is doing.
We walked through the weeks leading up to Christmas weekend, and there were many tears, but it ended up being a wonderful Christmas. Maybe one of our favorites so far. God was kind and gracious and knit our hearts together. He was enough.