Monday, January 05, 2009

Goodbye to Christmas 2008

We finished taking down the decorations on Sunday. The tree was folded up, the decorations were packed away, the Christmas dishes were stored for another year.

But before everything is consigned to history, let's stop for a minute and remember the fun that was had this year.

We were so glad to leave our worries behind when we hit the road that Saturday a few weeks ago. Though it is undeniably difficult and often stressful to leave your home behind to have Christmas elsewhere, it does provide a convenient break between the regular working life and the holiday trip. We can really leave everything behind and switch our minds to relaxation, family, and more fun than we usually expect to have.

So, as you know from following this year's travel posts (Start with this one and read the next couple of days.) we began our travels with Lynda's family. Even on short notice, they were happy to provide a sanctuary for the road weary and we even got to attend church with them on Sunday, treated to a nice cantata of Christmas songs. The kids got a second Christmas of opening gifts and we reconfigured the full van to keep traveling on down to south Georgia for the extended stay with my family. But no worries for Lynda's side. We would later hook up with them in Waycross for a nice visit with her brother's family.

The visit in Tifton was remarkable because we were doing two things at once. Preparations for Christmas were the main focus of everyone's visit, but we were also secretly planning a surprise 70th birthday party for my dad that would be sprung on him the Saturday after the holiday. This planning sometimes meant a lot of lying and falsehoods directed toward my Dad as Mom had to button up the details of the event and others shifted party clothes from place to place and all kept it out of Dad's awareness.

Christmas Day was fun because we gathered everyone together in the living room--which grows more and more cramped as families grow--and listened while Grandmother and Pappaw outlined the rules of present opening. Do not try to circumvent Grandmother when she is defining the rules of opening presents. It just slows things down and she won't bend. But we love it when she takes charge.

I got just the right amount of nice gifts from family and we continued the surprise plans for Dad. When the time came on Saturday night, we hid out at my sister's house so we could change into our party clothes and not arouse suspicions. We then drove over to the Tifton Museum of Arts and Heritage where the surprise went down. A great many of Dad's old work friends, church friends, and friends about town gathered to wish him a early 70th birthday and lots of good food, good drink, and good music was enjoyed by everyone in attendance. I enjoyed Andy's music so much, I even danced with Grace right up in front for everyone to see (sorry about that ya'll!). But it was a great evening.

The funny thing about this Christmas trip was the theme of photographic history that ran throughout the entire affair--and a great deal of it was done without the knowledge of anyone else. You see, all of the kids had decided to give Mom and Dad an album of family photos for a Christmas present. We had emailed each other for a few months and M.A. had coordinated the photo collection and book production. Meanwhile, Andy had been putting together a slideshow of old photos of Dad to be presented at the surprise party. And further meanwhile, Dad had been putting together his own slideshow of family photos that he placed on a thumb drive and gave to each of us while we visited.

So, we were all enmeshed in the mutual celebration of our families past and its many, many photos of all of our time together. I am sure that I will have opportunity to go through the slideshow from Dad and remember the earliest times of my childhood and before that, reliving the captured moments of our family. And I hope that over time, I can bring some of those photos here and use them as starting points for many discussions of the most important people in my life.

It was a great Christmas trip all around. If you want to see some more photos of our journey through Georgia, click on this link.

1 comment:

Sven Golly said...

sounds like an awesome party. I'm already a fan of the banjo picker:

"and arguing with himself about questions that have no answer."