I just watched Eliza drive out the road on her way back to Cincinnati, and the emptiness that accompanies her departure has returned to signal the official end of our holiday time together.
The Shook / Wilders had a wonderful 10 days together - a lot of time in the car with both kids, very special moments in Boone with Mom and Myra, and another Christmas dinner around the table with Aunt Lera, Richard, and the latest member of the family, Colton Moyer, a young man whom Richard brought home for the first time.
Samuel arrived on Christmas Eve morning. Eliza, Myra and I drove to pick him up in Charlotte where we stopped to have a brief visit with Aunt Linda, my dad's next to youngest sister. She's a very special aunt, and since we don't gather around the table at Grandma Shook's anymore, having an hour or so with her helped fill that void.
Once we got home and Petie got her long-awaited hugs from Samuel, we decorated Mom's tree. From her chair, she helped out by letting us know where to hang ornaments. Myra sparkled in her Christmas PJ's. (She bought some for all of us, and eventually, we looked outfit-coordinated enough for one of those classic holiday family portraits.)
One of the many advantages of having adult children is that no one was up and full of energy at 6:00 AM - with the exception of a corgi who had to go outside to pee at 5:45 AM. Mac was more certain that Red Wolf has ever been that he saw Santa, so yours truly was out on a walk before anyone (except Mr. Big Ears) thought about moving. All I could see while trying not to wake up completely as I slugged down the street was a happy little corgi butt, sashaying over to the rhododendrons to lift a leg. No Santa in sight!
I think everyone was ready to take it easy on Christmas day. We opened a mountain of gifts, had a couple cups of good coffee, and chilled until preparation time for our late lunch rolled around. Myra, Eliza, and I were in the kitchen together at various times over the day. The big debate on whether to have mashed potatoes AND macaroni and cheese was decided; Eliza prepared both, and both were appropriately consumed in their entirety. Myra fixed the turkey and green beans while I prepared the table, cooked some collard greens, and made fruit salad. With Aunt Lera's rolls and cranberry salad, the Shook / Randalls celebrate Christmas Day together as we have for over 50 years. It doesn't get much better !
All of us had another three days together before we had to return Samuel to the airport and before Myra headed back to Richmond. A bit of shopping, another good meal with the Randalls, a good long walk in the mountains with the dogs, and the annual University of Kentucky vrs. the Louisville Cardinals filled out the days. Time passed too quickly, but we sure did make some moments last!
Myra returned home Sunday morning after Eliza and I left to take Samuel down to Charlotte to spend the day with Harrison before Samuel headed back to Chicago. Then yesterday morning Eliza and I packed up all our stuff and two corgis and headed back to the farm. Tradition holds that she and I celebrate our Christmas once we return from NC, so she found some gifts awaiting her under the tree. I was elated to find the 2015 Witches Calendar and two bird feeders under it for me! (My list is always an easy one to take care of thanks to Amazon.com.)
So now, I'm here with the corgis until tomorrow when I take off to spend a week with my friend, Laida, and a couple of other friends who are in from Cuba. I look forward to being around festive Cuban energy for New Year's Eve. I also hope to be on the beach for a couple of walks, as well as enjoy the outdoors without 10 layers of clothes.
As I look forward to 2015, I know there will be many wonderful things that unfold in my life, not the least of which is RETIREMENT! I plan on getting my body in shape, traveling as much as my retirement budget will allow, making paper, taking photographs, and doing some "artsy" things. I also will be honored to spend much more time with my mom during her 96th year.
Moving forward, I can't contemplate the horrendous atrocities and uncivil things that tend to define the world today, so I'll cling to my mantra here at the farm and look for those things that open my heart and make me laugh.
Join my in putting this on your refrigerator and breathing in the spirit of these words into your life:
I swear I will not dishonor my soul with hatred but offer myself humbly as a guardian of peace, as a creator of beauty, as a healer of misery, as an architect of peace.
Best wishes to all for a wonderful, healthy life in 2015 and beyond!