When you work on a church staff, December is a very busy month. I know I've said that many times. I've enjoyed a couple of days off this week and it has been glorious. Let me back up. My co-worker and I had worked out a schedule where we could both worship with our families - one of us working the Welcome Center while the other worshipped and vice versa. Our Christmas Eve services actually began on the 23rd (Christmas Eve Eve). Mark and I met our good friends, Phella and Guy, at church and sat together through a glorious candlelight Christmas Eve (on the 23rd) service. The weather outside was frightful - seriously, we had lows in the teens with windchills below zero IN ALABAMA - but inside the worship service, it was warm and cozy. After church was over, we went to Phella and Guy's house and ate a bowl of soup together along with some yummy cornbread. Earlier in the day, I had baked cheese straws and took some of those to Guy.
|This is a picture from the choir loft at the 3:00 p.m.|
Christmas Eve service.
|This is our Senior Pastor, Brian. He also happens|
to be my boss - the best boss ever!
|This picture was posted on the church website.|
I LOVE this photo!!
had made time to bake a few things on Christmas Eve morning. I made homemade chocolate chip cookies and pecan pies (for Monday night) and I made greenbean casserole for Sunday.
|I wanted to buy frozen deep dish pie|
crusts but they were all sold out! Target
had one regular pie plate and one
"deep dish" which looks more like
a casserole dish to me but it worked.
I FINALLY started wrapping presents on Christmas Eve and we were able to put a few under our tiny tree.
I went in to work around 1:00 on Christmas Eve and did some normal work and then I worked the Welcome Center for the 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Candlelight services. Both services were packed (that is why we went on Friday night). I think there were 846 at 3:00 and over 900 at 5:00. Earlier in the day, we had our children's services with communion and our "come and go" communion service. I don't even know the headcount on those services plus we will add in the number of us who worshipped on Friday night (probably about 400). We had record breaking crowds this year. Our sanctuary holds about 900 so we were at capacity. Parking is the real issue. There is a big Baptist church next door to us and they have a parking deck but for some reason, their folks want to park in our parking lot rather than their deck. We try to be gracious but sometimes it is tough :-).
Sunday morning - Merry Christmas - Mark and I awakened and he had his regular coffee and I had my Diet Pepsi. We then opened our presents to each other. He got new shoes and bourbon (which he bought and I wrapped!) and I also had a hard hat for him to use in our attic at the house and some salted peanuts in the shell. He gave me a new Vera Bradley computer tote and a pair of Vionic flip flops. We didn't buy a lot for each other this year. We are headed back out of the country in a few weeks and are saving our money for the trip! One of the young men on staff at church asked me on Sunday morning, "just what do Empty Nesters do on Christmas morning?"
I worked the Welcome Center for the 10:00 combined worship service and I was actually able to slip into the sanctuary around 10:20 for the remainder of the service. The sermon and music were both great.
After worship was over, we headed to my mother-in-law's for Christmas with Mark's family (the greenbean casserole!). My brother-in-law (Mark's identical twin brother) participated in the 4th annual Walk for a Claus (for prostate cancer) earlier in December so he now owns a Santa suit and showed up wearing it! Our granddaughters were not so sure about Pop George wearing a Santa suit. (Also, Mark is Pop or Pops and our oldest granddaughter named George -- Pop George -- because he looks just like Pop! Both of our granddaughters call him that. Isn't that cute?)
|Here is Mark's momma with her grandchildren|
plus two spouses.We are missing one
grandson - He is a doctor in New York
City and was doing surgery while
we were gathered!
|Santa (Pop George) and his momma|
|Santa and Susie (our granddaughters|
call her Susie Sheep - from Peppa Pig)
|The granddaughters were not|
sure about this Santa!
|Mark's momma looks amazing|
for 97, doesn't she? She is with our
two granddaughters - her great
|Here is the adult table -- Paul (on the right in glasses)|
is our oldest nephew. He lives in Delaware.
Grace is our only niece on this side of the family
- she lives here in town.
Our menu (just in case you are interested) was turkey and ham, dressing, gravy, rolls, cranberry sauce (from a can because that is what they love), green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, squash, and Asian slaw with homemade coconut cake for dessert. I would have been happy with a couple of slices of honeybaked ham, dressing and gravy. Those are my favorites!
After lunch, we opened presents and took our family photos (above).
On Sunday night, we went to our cousin's home for a more extended family Christmas gathering. Mark's grandmother used to host this party every year for all of her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. When she died (at 95!), the party moved to my mother-in-law's house and she rotated every other year with her sister-in-law, Aunt Mary. When Aunt Mary died, her son-in-law Nathan stepped up to the plate and now hosts it. We hosted (at Mark's mom's house) last in 2019 and then covid hit so we didn't gather in 2020. Last year, we weren't sure Mark's mom was going to make it -she had broken her pelvis so Nathan hosted. Mark went and I think it was only the second time I ever missed in all of the years we have been married. It was actually so good to be together this year.
|Nathan and his daughters make|
these cookies every year. They
are one of Mark's favorites. They
do an amazing job with the
|Sally, on the left, is one of Mark's|
first cousins. She is a pastor and she
was one of our main baby sitters when
Glenn and Laura were babies. I love this
picture of Glenn and Lauren and Sally
together - all adults.
|The spread of food was yummy -|
everything from cheese straws to
pigs in a blanket to
turkey and cheese on sister
schubert's rolls to sushi made
with spam and liver pate. I did
try the pate and Mark ate
some of the sushi.
Monday night was our immediate family celebration. I had asked our son if we could have it at their house since we are in the apartment and he and our daughter-in-law graciously agreed. I took the chocolate chip cookies and pecan pies that I had made. Mark went to Costco and purchased a whole beef tenderloin which Glenn cooked on his Big Green Egg. He also made a new sweet potato recipe that he has perfected -- twice baked sweet potatoes with candied bacon and marshmallows!
|Whole beef tenderloin - delicious!|
|There was a lot of Barbie playing|
|Granddaughter #1 is into all things|
Harry Potter and Gran and Pops
gave some good gifts!
|Pops is the best Barbie player|
|I found those bunny headbands at|
|This picture is out of order - oh well!|
Twice baked sweet potatoes
with marshmallows and
|See that robe? It is a Harry Potter|
bathrobe! Score one for Gran and Pops!
|Granddaughter #1 has a great|
playroom and she shared her toys
with granddaughter #2.
|Pops and granddaugher #2 were|
"bump bumping" down the steps.
|Some of my Walmart purchases|
We play our own version of
dominoes - probably
not by the real rules! Our
dominoes are possibly packed
in the storage unit so I bought
us some new ones!
Yesterday and today (Tuesday and Wednesday) I have just been enjoying the day. I've read a little. I went to Walmart which I actually enjoyed. I've exercised. We took down the Christmas decorations and I've cleaned the apartment. I've washed and dried a lot of laundry and I haven't been in a hurry at all in 48 hours. I am going into the office for a little while on Thursday and I have a haircut and color on Friday. We are headed to a restaurant at a local hotel with two other couples for dinner on Saturday night. While in Walmart, I bought us all a pair of silly 2023 glasses. If I remember to take pictures, I'll post.