Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas break 2009

Christmas this year took on special significance for our family. Gerrit will soon be graduating from college, marrying Erin, and moving to Houston in the new year, so there's no telling when we'll see them for Christmas again! Tuck is happily adapting to college life at the University of Alabama. And Philip is rapidly approaching driving age. Our little family is steadily sprouting wings and leaving the nest!

So, we wanted to make the most of the time we had together. For Dave that implied more than just family dinners and board games, though. Not being sure when he'd have all of his home-grown man-power together again, he decided it was time to purge the garage, the attic, and just about everything else that wasn't tied down. We hired a construction-sized dumpster and started throwing away the accumulated junk from 14 years living in the same house. After three days we had just about filled a 30 cubic yard container. The fact that we had that much junk was more than a little embarrassing, but the sense of relief we felt when the truck came to haul it away was wonderful!

Having completed our "big chore" for the week, we set our minds to more entertaining pursuits, like making graham cracker houses! As anyone who knows us will suspect, it turned into quite the competition. We split into four teams of two: Karen with our visiting friend Carolyn, Dave with Philip, Gerrit and Erin, and Tuck and Morgan. The results were quite impressive, and each team claimed victory for one reason or another, though Dave is sure that his "architecturally correct" recreation of Notre Dame cathedral (complete with flying buttresses!) stole the show :-)

On Christmas day we packed up our rented Expedition and took to the road to go see Dave's parents in Charleston. We normally get a chance to see them with the extended family in Lexington at Thanksgiving, but since it hadn't worked out this year, heading to Charleston seemed the logical thing to do.

Since Erin hadn't been to Charleston before, we had the perfect excuse to tour the city again. After driving around the city and seeing the sites, Erin and Gerrit took the historic carriage tour while the rest of us strolled through the market.

Dave's folks rolled out the red carpet for us, continually offering their hospitality in the form of more food than an army could possibly eat. The conversation was great, fueled by collections of letters Dave's mom had saved through the years, and by Grandad's reminiscences from his thirty years in the Navy.

One particularly special evening, the guys all bundled up and sat out on the back deck, puffing on cigars that Gerrit had given Tucker for his 19th birthday, and listening to Grandad tell some pretty amazing stories. No one seemed to notice the cold until we'd been out there for hours.

Eventually though, we had to pack up and make the long drive back to Huntsville, then turn our minds back toward school, work, and our regular lives. But the holiday gave us one last thrill by dumping snow on Huntsville just as school was resuming, giving us an unexpected additional holiday as schools and roads were closed for the next couple of days.


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