Wednesday, December 22

Sleigh Bells Ring...

Last night I was driving home to the single-wide and just started grinning... which then lead to a giggle... then a full-on belly laugh. I was behind the biggest RV. And it’s like somebody opened up the back window of that dinosaur and let the Christmas memories roll out. Like a bowl full of jelly...

When I was little, the red.neck brothers and I oh-so-patiently awaited that last day of school. C’mon Christmas break! We knew that “the Mama” had been packin’ and wrappin’ and getting us ready to hit the road – we were on our way to Deland, FL – we were on our way to Grammy and Grampy’s house! I think we were ALWAYS sitting in the van WAY before take-off time! Proll’y the only time of the year we didn’t try to take each other’s Christmas lights out fighting over the front seat. And how do parent’s tune out 3 – count ‘em THREE - little voices going, “are we there yet? Mom – are we there yet?” I think I’ll call her right now just to ask her if we’re there yet...

It didn’t matter what time of the day or night we rolled in to my Grandparent's sand filled driveway – my Grandmother would come flying out the back door with her arms wide open and then it WAS a race between my red.neck brothers and I to see who could get to her first. And right behind her by maybe half a step was my Grandfather with a grin on his face and his arms held wide open – just waiting to see who got to HIM first! Christmas was right there in that driveway.

And then the fun began... baking and talking and laughing (probably some shopping in there somewhere), Christmas lights to look at with our noses pressed to the glass - carols to sing... one of my favorite pastimes was to dog my Uncle’s every foot step – so I did that too... orange trees and grapefruit trees to check out... a big woodworking shop to raid (it always had toys busting out of its seams!)... a boat yard for hide-and-seek games... the fun of it all!

My Grandfather always had his “station” which consisted of a cabinet and his recliner – and my Grandmother always had her “command station” which consisted of a cabinet and her rocking chair... each station held the best seat in their house – their laps. I can remember going from my Grandfather’s lap to cuddlin’ up in my Grandmother’s lap – then back again... then again... Christmas was right there in that living room.

One of the best parts? Grampy ALWAYS had a camper for us to stay in – it was just one of those things that made their house THAT fun! On Christmas Eve we would all go to church for the Christmas Eve service – then we would go home and gather around their dining table and laugh and giggle and eat – but we would always leave enough cookies for Santa! Grammy’s thin and crispy chocolate chip cookies were his favorite after all! Then we would race in to the sun room where we would each get to open one gift – and let me tell you – it was a hard decision each year deciding which package under the tree to open! Whew! Then the red.neck brothers and I would get the glass of milk ready – the plate of cookies ready – yell out our good nights and race out the door to the camper! And we would wait... and wait... and wait some more with baited breath...

“DO YOU HEAR THAT?! Santa is RIGHT OUTSIDE ringing his sleigh bells!!!” The three of us would scramble to the windows giggling – running from window to window, tripping in our excitement (or we could have been tripping each other *shrug*) - trying to catch a glimpse of Santa! We could hear him ringing his sleigh bells!!! He HAD to be out there somewhere! He just HAD to be!

And Christmas morning: Grammy never failed to meet us at the back door with the empty cookie plate in hand for us to inspect the remaining crumbs – orders for us to stop long enough to drink a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice (she had to do SOMETHING with all the oranges we drug in to her kitchen)THEN we would get to peak around the corner into the living room...

Command centers were shut down – Christmas had arrived! Stockings full and overflowing – grins and giggles and oooohs and aaaahs – dolls for me and trucks and tractors for the red.neck brothers (those later transported the dolls... I travel in style after all) pretty dresses that "the Mama" had made for me (and usually a shirt for my Grandmother to match!) and cradles and other doll furniture that my Grandfather had made for me... clothes and blankets and little pillows for my dolls that my Grandmother had made... Christmas was right there in that living room. And after all of the fun and laughter we would once again gather around Grammy's dining table to feast on pancakes - and more orange juice - and fight with Grampy 'cause he would steal your pancake after you buttered it to absolute perfection and the syrup was just fixing to hit the little hole in the middle you had made...
Christmas was surrounding that dining table.

This year I’ve been struggling with my “Christmas Spirit”. My orange hairs are standin’ on end – my freckles are drooping... I have almost let all of the hustle and bustle smother my Christmas joy. ("Bah Humbug" has even escaped my lips a few times... don't tell Santy, m'kay?) It’s amazing what a brown dinosaur of an RV heading down a winding country road – sparkly Christmas lights reflected in its windows - can do for one’s soul. I seem to have forgotten what Christmas is all about for awhile.

Faith, Hope and above all - Love.
Family and friends.
The Resident Teen and all the joy he brings to me. (even while taking tours through ditches and cow pastures... does he REALLY need to drive?)
Precious childhood memories and the making of new ones.
You, my blog-land friends.
Children laughing and chocolate chip cookie grins.
Huggles, snuggles and cuddles; arms being held wide open awaiting your arrival because you belong in them.
Carrying on with family traditions and starting some new ones.
The birth of Jesus and all of the wonder that holds.

Don’t ya know... the occupants of that RV are some lucky kid’s Grandparents bringing Christmas love with them – and I’m bettin’ those kids are standing and fighting over who gets out the back door first when Christmas arrives in their driveway – sleigh bells in his hands and chocolate chip cookie dough in hers.

Comin' to you LIVE from a single-wide (and wishing you and yours a verrrrrry Merry Christmas!) hee-hee

p.s. Turns out those bells are "the Mama's" and they traveled each and every time with us to Florida... I wonder where she hid them? Now they hang on her mantle... I think I'll go ring them constantly Christmas Day - and when I'm not ringing them I'll ask her if we're there yet. ;-D
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