Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Travel, Run, Eat Christmas

     It's the day after Christmas 2012 and I'm feeling a bit reflective. Could be the rain outside my window. Or it could be me delaying the cleaning up from the festivities of last night! I'm thinking it's just the calming of the rain and the fact that I now have nothing to be ready for in the immediate future. Back to just enjoying my holiday break. And it has been a wonderful one!
     My family Christmases have always been small as far as people go. It's always just been my parents, my grandparents and me. Over the last couple of years we have expanded to include my cousin and his family and I like this so much! I see all the pictures of BIG family Christmases and I wonder what that feels like! It looks like so much fun! So to get even a small taste of that these last two years has been awesome! Catching up with my cousins and seeing their children is great.
Celebrating with my cousin and his family
     This year, my cousin Laura announced she is pregnant with her second child! So exciting! We are like two kids when we get together. We instantly go to each other and then we don't leave each others sides until it's time to go. Catching up with her is a very precious Christmas memory.
My cousin Laura & me

Hamming it up for the camera!

     Christmas Eve consists now of my parents, my grandmother and me. We have a big fancy dinner with the Lenox Holiday china and the German crystal. Mom gets the food and I do all the cooking! I love cooking for my family! For anyone really! It's one of my favorite things to do for sure.
Christmas Eve Dinner
     Christmas Eve is also when we open our gifts. We don't do over-the-top, expensive things. My family is really good at needs. I got what I needed this year: new running shoes, a new medal rack for my ever-increasing medal count & money to help pay the bills. I also got something I wanted - my Food & Wine Fest 2012 poster framed. It was a good, simple Christmas! My grandmother got a new fridge (her old one made REALLY loud, strange noises) and things to keep her warm. My mom got a much needed spa visit and my dad got things to help him in his new running pursuit. I'm also going to register him and run with him in our local Donna 5k that is the day before our National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer. A very running Christmas!!
Christmas Eve Gifts
     Christmas Eve this year was also a time for me to drift back into my long-ago past. About 15 years ago, I sang in a choir at a local Catholic church. I loved it. The music we made was simply beautiful! We had various different influences but the main influence to our music was Tony's Spanish Mandolin. Oh the music he could make with that! It's been at least 10 years since I have returned to my old church. I decided to go back for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. My family had already gone home and I just felt the need to go. I was so glad I did. Walking in, I went straight to the front and sat near the music. I recognized a few remaining members - amazing to see after all these years! And Tony was there with his mandolin. The music before Mass was beautiful and I enjoyed singing again. There's a new priest and um, even some changes to the Mass. Yea, I told you, it's been awhile! I felt like when Vatican II came along and changed the Mass - I was like Huh? That's not what we say?? I cried a lot that night. Right there in the church, in front of everyone. I didn't care. It was quite a night. Lots of memories and feelings.
     The message of the priest that night was that we should be seekers of JOY. His message was perfect and very timely. Yes, there is so much evil in this world and there are things to complain about - but seek JOY instead. There is so much beauty in this world too! If we all spoke of JOY and happiness instead of giving attention to the bad things, just think of how much more beautiful the world would seem and how much happier and blessed we would feel! Even little things - FIND JOY!
     One of the beautiful moments of the Mass was when Max, a 94 year old member of the choir who was also there when I sang with them, was escorted by his grandson to the solo microphone. He sang a beautiful version of O Holy Night. It was wonderful! Everyone clapped when he finished. We ended the night with Joy to the World and then a rousing rendition of Feliz Navidad - one of my all time favorites, made even more special by the environment that night!
     Christmas Day was full of preparation for dinner. I love the fact that after years of my mom and grandma having to do all the work, they can now relax and enjoy! It makes it all the more special for me to do the cooking! Dinner on Christmas Day includes my cousin and his wife so I had to put the leaf in my table to stretch it out! It was a long dinner table that night!
Christmas Day Dinner
     These holidays were also made special by many friends! Spending time with my best friend from school, chatting about our lives and running while her husband made us an amazing Greek meal was heaven! I also enjoyed the virtual company of many friends around the country all day and well into the nights of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. What fun it is now to share our pictures and thoughts and laughs instantly across the miles!
     It was a beautiful Christmas and I truly feel blessed! I could not have wished for anything more this year! I hope that you and yours had a blessed season of love and family as well. Remember to seek that JOY!!!
My Travel, Run, Eat Christmas - Thank you mom & dad for the most thoughtful gift EVER!!!

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