If I had to rank Christmases past, this most recent one would be at the top of my list. Not only was it Kaleb's first Christmas, but it was the first time in three years that my entire immediate family had been together. The memories we made were sweet, sweet enough to get me by in the coming years when I long for us all to be together again. And the photos? Well, those help too.
Our travels back to the States were exhausting, but oh so worth it. Sweet little Kaleb was such a trooper... even through our two hour wait to get to a hotel room in Memphis thanks to the cancellation of our original flight through Minneapolis. Thankfully our little guy can sleep still crash like this:
Grandma came to see him the day we arrived. It brought me such joy to see the ones I love share their love with my son as well.
We were up pretty early each morning, trying hard to adjust to jet lag. I felt as if I had a newborn again, up every three hours in the night to eat. But those mornings, when the world was still silent and it was just Kaleb and I up in our home were precious. Our first morning we put together Kaleb's first Christmas present, a jumperoo.
And then it was time to get the lights up on the tree. We waited for the ornaments until daddy could join us via skype.
Not only did we get to see my immediate family, but some extended family as well. My brother arrived back in the States and a couple days later us siblings loaded up the car and headed to see our grandparents with stops to see family along the way.
While I will cherish most of these photos and memories for years to come, the ones of Kaleb with my grandfather are perhaps the most treasured of them all. He hasn't been doing well lately and I don't know if things will ever be the same. But for the time we were there, he seemed pretty normal and for that I am thankful.
"The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do." - Andy Warhol
My uncle may be much older than me, but he is still a child at heart. Watching him interact with Kaleb was touching, but the way Kaleb looked at him was priceless. A baby, a child is not born with prejudice. There was such innocence from not only Kaleb but from my uncle as well. If only we could all see the world through their pure eyes.
My little five month old, growing up entirely too fast.
Then we were off to see my other grandma. She lives by herself and I often find myself wondering how lonely that must be at times. To have the opportunity to visit her right before Christmas was a gift. Of course, by the end of the evening Kaleb had decided enough was enough and threw quite a fit at dinner. Life isn't always perfect, is it?
Even the best of plans don't always go as intended. John was to arrive on the 22nd but thanks to the storm in London, his flight with American Airlines was canceled. He was told they couldn't get him into the States until late Christmas night. Since he only had limited time at home as it was, he canceled that ticket and purchased a new one through a different airline. So, when he finally arrived home it was the best Christmas present I could have ever asked for... my little family together at last.
Anyone with kids in a family knows how much more fun Christmas is with little ones around! It was fun to watch him try to open things, although the gift wrapping was more exciting than the present for him. I think that is how it should be, we should all learn to enjoy the simple things in life. It is easy to get wrapped up in a commercial Christmas (I for one am guilty of this as well), when in reality Jesus was born in a simple manger.
I caught myself thinking about Mary multiple times this Christmas. Last Christmas I was able to better imagine what it was like for Gabriel to tell her she was with child. But this time, I was able to better imagine what it was like for her to make that long journey, for her to not have a place to give birth. And then... what it was like when she held Jesus for the first time. Then I would snap back into the present day, to say Kaleb was spoiled is probably an understatement. But not just spoiled with "things," but spoiled with love... which isn't a bad thing at all.
Traditions were started and stockings were made and hung over the fireplace. We now open up new Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve and then enjoy a quiet morning with cinnamon rolls as a family.
However, Kaleb had to forgo the cinnamon rolls and try rice cereal instead.
Just like this blog post is coming to an end, so did Christmas. Before we knew it we were taking daddy to the airport to say good-bye for another week.
I am pretty sure Kaleb was sad as well.
And then we were sending my brother off. All the anticipation, the waiting was over and all that was left were the Christmas trees still standing as a reminder of the memories that were made there. It was hard to leave, but I was also happy to return back here as well. Kaleb and I both missed John. Of course now we miss family back at home, but unfortunately we can't have it all. Maybe someday.