Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Christmas '09--part 2

Now that Christmas is officially over, and my extremely dead tree is officially down (as of 8:45 this morning), it's probably time to officially wrap up the season by writing about and posting some pics of our time with our family.

On the morning of December 15th, Reid received news that his Grandma, Alta Mae Allred, had passed away. This came as a surprise to everyone. But Alta had lived a wonderful life and had enjoyed relatively good health in her last years. She was spunky and sassy and made us laugh when we decided to name Eliza Mae after her. Upon hearing this news she said, "Oh, I don't know why my mother gave me that name...I never did care for it much." Her funeral was in Salt Lake City. We were already planning on spending the holidays in UT, so we just started our travels 4 days earlier (which resulted in us missing the huge storm we would have been in otherwise...which had been my biggest fear since last Christmas). Of course I'd put a million things off until the last minute, so getting out of here was a bit crazy, but once we were packed and on the road, we knew that nearly all our Christmas preparations were done, and we could just focus on the funeral and our time with family.

Which we did.

The funeral was beautiful. Reid's dad gave a wonderful talk about Jesus' teachings, about Life Eternal, about life here on earth, and its relative brevity on the grand scale of things. He told wonderful stories, which made us laugh...and cry. There was such a peaceful feeling at the funeral. I don't think that anyone in that room wondered whether Grandma was in a happier place, reunited with her sweetheart.
All but one of Reid's cousins were there. And Reid's sister, Alisa, was able to come all the way from Maryland--without kids! The cousins had so much fun catching up and reminiscing. It was truly a joyous occasion, as Grandma would have wanted it to be.

After spending a few days with Reid's family in SLC, we drove down to Provo to spend a week at my parents house. All but one of my siblings were there, and we had such a great time.
Just a few of the highlights of our time with my family
-playing games, night after night after night--We played the Bowl Game, Pete & KateLand, Scum, Scene-it Classics (might I add that it was 7 of us against my dad, and he STILL won!) and other games i can't even remember. It was so nice to just put the girls to bed and enjoy so many kid-free evenings. (I'm completely convinced we would almost never do this if we lived close to family. Am i wrong?? anybody?)
-the Nativity on Christmas Eve--with Grace as the angel, Abby as the star, Eliza as Baby Jesus, and Kristie and Jared as Mary and Joseph. The rest of us were wise men or shepherds. And, as always, my dad was the narrator. I'm telling you, when that man gets choked up it is truly impossible to keep it together. It was as wonderful as it was when I was a kid. And even better because Grace and Abby were so excited to be a part of it.

-watching the girls open their gifts--Grace was pretty excited about her reversible Erika/Annaliese dress...but maybe not as excited as Santa was when he found it!! Abby liked everything she opened, especially all the games and puzzles. And Eliza was content to just go from person to person, mooching more sugar than she'd ever seen in all her days. But, just like last year, the gifts that really took the spotlight were all the donations that people made in my parents' behalf. It's so fun to know that a family in Logan, UT was able to buy Christmas for their kids, a japanese internment museum got a generous donation, and other similar contributions--all in my parents' name.

-watching the girls have such a great time with their aunts, uncles and cousins. This is basically what we did the entire time. I've got awesome siblings (and in-laws!) who help out so much with the girls. Grace got at least 3 make-overs. Abby got to play all sorts of games. And Eliza was always able to find someone to feed her something.

-using my extremely amateur skills with my fancy-schmancy camera to take these pics of family members
Here's jared, my cute brother, and Kristie, his even cuter wife

My sister Melanie and her cute family

And here's the whole family, minus Cynthia and Tom (who spent the holidays in a hotel due to a house fire!!! but that's a whole other story...)

-and especially watching my girls just adore and be adored by my parents. I love their sweet relationships. I love how quickly they warm up to each other, and how both my girls and my parents enjoy the simple moments they get to spend together.
After 7 wonderful days at my parents' house we drove up to SLC to spend a week at Tom and Jana's. Well, it was actually only going to be 4-5 days...but we used the "storms" as an excuse to hang out and play a little longer.
We had a "second Christmas" with Reid's family. This started with the traditional spaghetti and meatballs Christmas Eve dinner--which is always so delicious, and a tradition we might just carry on in our family....if Reid will make the meatballs :) For breakfast we had the Allred family egg McMuffins--which are actually really, really good! And then it was time to open gifts--round two!! The girls loved every minute of it. Grace got a skirt that she wore every day for the next 6 days--thanks, Grandma!! And Abby got a shirt that Grace wore for the next 6 days...again, thanks Grandma!!

And Eliza got to ride on Gabe's little toys. These two were pretty cute together. (Eliza's the girl...the one on the right :) )
We spent one evening walking around the historic and beautiful Temple Square, looking at all the lights and international nativities they had--and freezing our little tushies off! It was crazy cold, but definitely worth it.Reid's mom brought a bunch of arts and crafts for the girls to do while we were there. She's so mindful of things like this. Thank you, Marie!! The girls had such a great time. I kept worrying that they'd get homesick and just be ready to leave. But honestly, they never reached that point this trip. They could have stayed another week. And we could have, too! And we maybe even considered it...but we were pretty sure Tom and Jana were ready to get their bedroom and house back!!
Thank you, Tom and Jana, for letting us all crash your place for so long, and for all the talks, the games and fun!!
I also got to catch up with some of my childhood friends and some of our law school friends. I could write an entire post about how much I love these friends, and how fun it is to see them, and to see our kids play together...but i probably never will...
The whole trip home Reid and I kept commenting to each other about how magical our time in UT had been, and how if we lived an hour from family we'd most likely NEVER take 2 weeks off to go be with them 100% of the time. And we'd probably only see them for Sunday dinner once a month. And we'd probably never put our kids down at their places, knowing that ours was only 60 minutes away. And we'd miss out on vacations and quality times like this. And, we'd have to live in UT. (don't get me wrong, all ye's awesome and beautiful but just not the right...umm...match for me :)
And for the first time since I've lived here in Colorado I realized that I really, truly don't want to live anywhere else, including closer to family. I'm ready to call Denver my home indefinitely. It's close enough to my family that I can get there in a day. It's far enough that when I'm away from here, I'm completely away. It's an awesome city for about a billion other reasons. And it's just perfect for me.
And that was my Christmas present to myself.


Kyrsten said...

So fun. Love the new family pics, so cute!

Jana said...

I hope this doesn't mean that since your staying in Denver that I have to go there because Tom will die until he does???? I.F. here we come!

Karen said...

We had sooo much fun with you guys!! Thanks for coming!

Debbie said...

Cute pics of the Ashworth family. Looks like Chuck didn't quite get the goofy picture pose :) I love reading about your family togetherness and being JEALOUS!