I know I haven’t finished posting about the birthday tea – and I will – but tonight my heart is so full I just need to write it all down. My dad, aunt, cousin, and our oldest son were here tonight for an early Christmas family celebration. My aunt, great-aunt, and cousin will be in Tennessee at Christmas, so this was our time together with them. See, growing up in Arkansas we all lived within a three-mile radius, saw each other on a daily basis, spent all of our holidays together. Time has moved on and we live a little further apart, and many of our dearly beloved have passed on from this life: my mother, all four of my grandparents, all but one of my great-aunts (who is nearly ninety-five).

I posted earlier about memories from my grandparents’ home on Christmas Eve. I read a recipe here last month for chocolate-covered cherries, which my grandmother always made from scratch on Christmas Eve; I knew then that making those and the homemade hot cocoa were things I wanted to do when my family got together for Christmas.

Memories from my grandparents’ home are very sentimental, especially after my grandmother passed on in August. I had made the fondant center for the cherries, which was in the fridge cooling when everyone arrived, and I’d made the homemade hot cocoa, too. My cousin and I made the rest of the chocolate-covered cherries together, which was just as emotional an experience for her, too. Every step of the way I kept thinking, “This is what my grandmother did.” My oldest daughter, who celebrated her tenth birthday last week, was born when I was the same age as my grandmother was when she gave birth to my mother, so she had a ten-year-old daughter at my age, too. Thoughts like this filled my mind all evening.

My dad, who is simply the greatest, gave my husband and me this wonderful record/CD/tape player with AM/FM radio! Growing up, my mother did most of the Christmas shopping; but there was always one day when my dad did his shopping. It was just one gift, but it was always the best. My mom was very practical, even as a grandmother; she hated to see money blown on too many toys or junk. She liked to get clothes, shoes, coats – necessary things. But my dad’s gifts were just plain fun; the ones we couldn’t wait to open.

Isn’t it beautiful?

The presence of the record player meant one thing: bringing up my stash of old albums from the basement.

Would you look at this stash of Elvis albums? I even have the Moody Blue “blue” album and the four-record set of #1 hits.

Do you recognize any of these? I’m betting some of you had them, too.

So that’s how I find myself up late at night, blogging and listening to Journey’s Escape which I haven’t heard in more years than I care to count. And missing my mother and my grandmother. I am so, so thankful for the precious family that surrounded me this evening. I don’t know what memories will be special for my kids, but I hope to instill in them a love for home and family, like my parents did for me.

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