Friday, December 21, 2012, thru Sunday, December 30, 2012—Christmas Time with the Family

We’re excited to be going to Central Arkansas and environs to spend Christmas with family.   Friday morning, we were off about 6:46 AM, headed north towards Houston where we spent the night with cousin Lin and her husband, Tom, in Magnolia, Texas. Nestled among the trees in a wide open space, their house and home was warm and welcoming. It was great catching up on family matters, and just plain visiting.  They fed us catfish and all the fixings.

We left their great accommodations about 9:30 AM Saturday for the last leg of our trip “home” to Arkansas, arriving at Karyn’s about 5:30 PM.  Ridge and Matt were asleep, but not for long, and we hugged and kissed on Ridge for some time; he’s been a little under the weather cutting a bunch of teeth at one time. Kay was hungry for barbeque and     in Little Rock filled the bill.

Sunday was full of hustle and bustle completing pre-Christmas details, but we took time as a whole family to attend church together, meeting Ron, Kadyn, and Cheryl at Church of Rock Creek for their 4:00 PM Christmas service.  Afterwards, we ate at Copeland’s, and had a great meal.

121224_E01Monday, Christmas Eve, was spent preparing lots of roasted vegetables for the Christmas meal with Matt’s family, and Matt smoked a turkey and pork tenderloin.  It was a fabulous meal, and my favorite was the kale salad and low calorie millionaire pie, both of which Karyn made, though everything else was might scrumptious. Afterward, Matt’s family opened gifts, and Ridge had a ball with a toy remote control given to him by Matt’s mother. Of course, he was the star attraction for the evening.

With rain, sleet, and snow predicted to begin about 8:00 AM, Kay rushed me out the door towards home in Norfork, Arkansas, about 6:30 AM on Tuesday, Christmas day.  The drive was uneventful, as there was hardly any traffic, and no precipitation.  On the way I thought how sad it was to spend Christmas by oneself, then decided it could be a great day—it’s all a matter of perspective.  The solitude gives me a chance to reflect on the true reason for Christmas, and the blessings Kay and I share with respect to our Christian faith, kids, grandkids, and life in general—thank you, Lord, for all this.  Everything at home was okay, though a few small limbs had blown down late last week. The house was a bit cold, but the fireplace began heating it immediately.  I turned down an invitation to have Christmas dinner with Wayne and Loretta as the pounds gained the last few days will be hard enough to take off. The left mouse key on the computer mouse pad had been sticking, and the spring finally gave way and is now lost forever, rendering the mouse pad useless; is it time for a new computer?  A USB mouse is filling the gap, but is difficult to use with the laptop computer on one’s lap. Wayne came up for a visit in the late afternoon, and the snow finally began about 5:30 PM.  Kay texted about that time to say they had lost power in Benton, AR, with freezing rain and ice still coming down after beginning about noon.  With no television and limited internet (the phone is a temporary hotspot), it was eerily quiet, and bedtime came early.

It must have snowed half the night, as there was about 6 inches on the ground Wednesday AM, with temps in the high 20s.  With all the cameras in the RGV, the IPad was employed to take a few photos to show the Canadians that we have snow in the Ozarks, too.  After a few chores, Wayne and I continued our visit over coffee.  Otherwise, it was a pretty quiet day, almost boring, though there are lots of little chores waiting to be done—it was not to be, today!

With bad weather once again predicted for the area, I opted to return to central Arkansas on Thursday, rather than Friday.  It’s amazing the mess one can make in just 2 days, and it took several hours just to clean, reorganize, pack, and lockup.  Enroute, the roads did not present a problem, except the further south I traveled, the more snow that had accumulated and the area around Batesville still had snow on one or more lanes of the highway. Near Searcy, Arkansas, a stop and visit was made with my sister and her family, before continuing on to Maumelle, Arkansas.  The number of houses and businesses without electricity was amazing.  It was reported that 200,000 were without power at one time.  Central Arkansas received 10.5 inches of snow, falling on top of sleet and freezing rain!  Kay made it back to Maumelle okay, so we were back together once again. We enjoyed playing with Ridge Thursday evening.

We awoke Friday morning to light rain, and it continued through noon.  A haircut was in order, and thank goodness the salon had electricity and was open. Friday afternoon and evening was pretty quiet, and we had a ball playing with Ridge while his parents enjoyed a date night.

Saturday was our family day, and we were successful in having everyone together for the first time in 3 years, though we were not able to get a photograph of the whole kit and caboodle.  Neither of the girls’ nor their babies had seen each other since before the babies were on the way, so it was a real treat to see them together.  Ron and Cheryl were able to come by for a couple of hours, and we sure enjoyed visiting with them, as well.  It would be an understatement to say that things were a bit chaotic.  Harper Ann had really grown since our last visit on Thanksgiving.  She was in awe of Ridge, but all the excitement was a bit too much for her.  She’s a real doll though.  Kay and I really appreciated the kids and their significant others giving up a day to spend with us. With a blended family, everyone busy with careers and other parents, one grandchild 17 years old, and the other two 14 months and 5 months, respectively, getting everyone together is proving to be an impossible endeavor.

We departed central Arkansas early Sunday morning and made the 14-hour trip back to the RGV without any mishaps or problems.  The route included Dallas, Waco, Austin, and San Antonio, and traffic this entire route was quite heavy for a Sunday.  We stopped for a late lunch at Gruene River Grill in historic Gruene, Texas, (pronounced Green) near New Braunsfel just north of San Antonio.  The Gruene River Grill sits high on a bluff overlooking the beautiful Guadalupe River.  The food was good, but not as great as the reviews in TripAdvisor.com indicated (their jalapeno crawfish chowder was excellent—among the best chowders I’ve eaten).  We finally arrived at Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort in Mission, Texas, at 6:45 PM, unpacked the car, and headed to the hot tub for a soak.  It sure felt good to be “home”.

We spent 28 grueling hours driving to and from Central Arkansas for the Christmas holiday.  We thoroughly enjoyed the grandkids, and got to spend some quality time with their parents.  But they have busy lives, lots of other commitments, and we’re getting too old for this!

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