Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas in Pictures (San Antonio Style)

A Texas Tree

Sweet Sisters

Kate and Jack (My Two Middles)

I ALWAYS tell them the Greatest Gift I could ever give them is the Gift of  Each Other

Brotherly Love

My Two Boys

The Z Three

Gorgeous Girls

Mama and Daughters

Merry Christmas!

What did Santa Bring?!

Mama and Baby BOY 20 Weeks

Stocking Time

Traditional Ornament from Grammy

Beautifully Handsome Boys

Cowboy Jack

Pirate Jack

Sweet Kate


Shamu at Sea World

The Girls

The Brother
The Boys

Love Bugs


Emma, Kate, and Jack in San Antonio, TX for Christmas 2012

For our family, the end of 2012 was magical. We had decided several months ago that we wanted to take a family trip over the holidays, so we began planning in the late days of summer where we wanted to create a little bit of family magic to close out our year. One of my very favorite holiday memories from before the days of Boss, and children, and responsibilities, was when my own little immediate family of four traveled to San Antonio, TX for a festive Christmas on the River. I can remember clearly all of the twinkly lights that lit up the city that particular year and I can also remember the specific meal that our family had on Christmas Eve. We sat out on the patio of the Lone Star Cafe with views of the river below us, wrapped in warm blankets, surrounded by heat lamps helping to warm the chilly night sky. But what I remember most about that night was feeling happy. Things were not perfect in our little family growing up, as they seldom are, but in that particular moment, on that particular night, they were.  And I knew right away that if we were going to travel over Christmas this year, that I wanted to create that same magic for my own children. So on December 20, 2012 our family (including my parents) set out in a twelve passenger van San Antonio bound.

We arrived in San Antonio after two long days of travel, excited to see where our Christmas adventures would take us! And boy, did they take us far. We dined outside on the river, wrapped in the very same blankets I can recall from my teen years, and we enjoyed looking at all of the festive trees and lights placed along the River Walk. We decorated a little white, twinkly Christmas tree for our rental home, made cookies for Santa, dined and walked the River on Christmas Eve, and stayed up late so that Grammy could read us the Christmas story. And Christmas morning did not disappoint! We spent the morning opening gifts (some favorites being brown cowgirl boots and a diary for my oldest girl, a new holiday Cabbage Patch doll for my youngest girl (goodness gracious, they still smell the same as they did when I was a child!), and new cowboy boots and a Thomas the Train set for our little guy) and enjoying our traditional Christmas brunch, and later that afternoon my brother and his wife were able to stop by and enjoy an evening meal with us. After not seeing my brother for almost two years, it was certainly great to see him face to face! The day after Christmas found us at Sea World, and the day after that my most favorite Auntie and her kind hearted husband came to spend the remaining two nights of our trip with us.  All of it was wonderful, every last bit of it magical. Memories were made that I hope to carry with me for years to come.

My brother mentioned to me while we talked that if you only read my blog and did not know my family in real life, that the things I choose to write about make our lives seem perfect. Perhaps even too good to be true. And that simply is not true. Far from it, in fact. Our trip was magical. But it was also filled with a stomach virus, a mouse in our vacation house, some family bickering, visits that were too short, and a few expectations that went unmet. But those things? Those things are simply a part of life. Every one's life. Life happens to each of us (even the unwanted aspects of life), and I learned a long time ago that it is not what happens to us that matters, but rather what we do about it. How we choose to see and respond. So those pesky parts of the trip? Perhaps we will laugh about those things in the days to come (our children were tickled over the idea of a Christmas mouse!), and the rest we will just sweep under the rug. Instead, when I see Christmas 2012 in my minds eye, I will see my daughters laughing, skipping, and holding hands as we explored a city that was new to them. I will see my little boy all dressed up in his cowboy hat and boots, pretending to be a real life cowboy. I will see my mom crying as she witnessed the tender way that Santa talked with my children. I will see the way that Boss caught my eye on more than one occasion as if to say, ' Can you believe that all of this is ours? How did we ever get so blessed? ' And I will see the smiles of my relatives whom I love, but don't get to see near often enough. I know there were so many this season who's arms were empty, and I will forever be thankful that mine were full for another magical season.

Thank you, God, for this life you have given me. Thank you for family, and friends, and laughter, and memories. May I always remember that all good gifts come from you.