Christmas Eve dawned bright and early at the Pierce homestead. Our youngest grandson, Liam, woke at 5:45 for his first bottle of the day. I had the foresight to already have one made, thank goodness, because his little cry and the poked out bottom lip screamed that he was hungrier than a child in a famine-stricken third world country. I put him back down after his bottle and sat down for a few minutes, praying and thanking God for sending His Son into the world for our salvation. Rather than thinking of the Christmas story as told in Luke 2, I thought about John 3:16. How precious was that quiet time with Him.
I dressed, loaded up the truck and packed all Liam's things. What did I forget? Nothing, I am proud to report! I waited and waited on the little guy to wake up again for another feeding but he was sleeping so peacefully. As I got him up to put him in the carseat, thinking I would just feed him when we got down to Mize, he was hungry again. Did I mention that I am a planner? I just knew I would be off by 8:30, but nope. Fish takes 45 minutes to eat a 4.5 oz. bottle! And then there was the mess in the diaper thing. I left at 9:10, late but not dissuaded. I have a whole new respect for mother's who do this 24/7, and totally understand now how someone with an almost 3 month old can say, "We'll be there at 6:00!" only to arrive at 7:30.
We stopped by the donut shop for breakfast to eat on the way down and still he slept. I went in Chevron for some tylenol sinus and still he slept. Full belly, clean diaper, he sleeps. Marathon sleeps!
We arrived at Mize and I unloaded the car and still he slept. We were the first to arrive and it was so quiet and peaceful there. I sat down in the recliner after I put things in the crockpot and refrigerator and presents under the tree. Only to jump back up at the bloodcurdling screech of "Hunger! Feed me now!" So glad I had the bottle made - again. My little man didn't have to wait long for the formula I cannot pronounce to fill his belly.
He slept some more and I got some reading time in. The headache I awoke with went away, and my husband called. Kristyn, Liam's mother, who I was looking so forward to taking over the feeding and diaper changing duties, was in the hospital with a kidney stone. A kidney stone? Who gets a kidney stone for Christmas? After making sure she was okay, I asked, "What about the presents?" We drew names and there were kids expecting presents! Steve said she hadn't wrapped a thing. Ahem. I kept Nolan Saturday night so she could wrap presents. I kept Liam Tuesday night so she could wrap presents. What did she do? Probably what I do after I send the grandkids home, praise the Lord for silence and bask in the glow of no responsiblities.
Okay. I read some more and prayed that this kidney stone was actually the cause of the "attacks" my bonus daughter had been getting that would send her to the hospital in excruciating pain and that she would never have another one of these attacks. I read some more, did another bottle, diaper change and clothes change and got the biggest smile from my grandson. I swear the whole room lit up!
I rocked him back to sleep and then the arrivals started. My mom's sister, Melanie, got there first, with her fiance' Chuck and my grandmother, who wanted to know if we were kin. She has Alzheimer's. She must have asked 83,9999 times if Liam was my son, and on the 84,000 time I lied. "Yes." That was the answer she wanted to hear. She didn't ask again. God forgave me for that, I'm sure.
Not sure who came in next, but here's the cast.
Grandmother - aka Maw-Maw, who asked a gazillion times if we were kin and wanted to know if she was a kid. My grandmother thinks she's in school and acted kind of schoolgirlish Christmas Eve. It was precious! She was delighted to find out that I was Barbara's daughter and was "so proud you came to see me today!"
Melanie - my mom's sister. She is my favorite aunt. I am 38 years old and allowed to have favorites. The others are not "un-favorite", she's just my personal favorite.
Chuck - Melanie's finance. He brough flowers for the table. Wow. That was sweet! They were gorgeous and he has a knack for arranging them.
Momma - the sweetest Mother in the world. She does everything for everyone and is my grandmother's oldest daughter. My grandmother wanted her to sit beside her and she passed Ethan off to Jenn and did so. How sweet is that?
Jenn - the greatest sister in the world. Jennifer is so sweet and has a smile that goes on for days. She is 12.5 years younger than me and we have a bond like superglue.
Nathan - Jenn's husband. He doesn't say much. He was bitten by a shy-bug or something, but that's okay - we all do enough talking for him.
Ethan - Jennifer and Nathan's 4 month old son. My first biological nephew. God is good!!!
Lee - My first-born cousin on Momma's side. Melanie is his mother. He's 32 and is hilarious. He does impersonations from movies very well.
Paige - Lee's pregnant wife. She was dog-sick her first trimester but is feeling bucketloads better now. Her nephew just died the week before. He was 19 and had open heart surgery complications. It was heartbreaking for her, because he was her first biological nephew.
Gracie - Paige's 4 year old daughter who has a pixie haircut and is adorable. She was so excited about Santa! She loves her baby brother Jackson and her Daddy, Lee. Her real father died before he and Paige could be married and she never knew him. All she knows is Lee and loves him.
Jackson - Lee and Paige's 14 month old son. He has a head full of curls and walks everywhere. Give him a blanket and his thumb goes right in his mouth. It's precious.
Brett - Lee's brother, Melanie's son. He towers over everyone, he's so tall. He loves LSU and he and his fiance just built a house in New Orleans. Metairie, actually?
Casey - Brett's fiance. Before I could hug her I had to see the rock Brett placed on her finger. He gave her an engagement ring for Christmas! Welcome to the family, Casey! We love you so much and you're such a delight. She loves all the kids and spends time with them in a way that lets you know she's going to be good mommy material.
Brooke - Lee and Brett's sister, Melanie's daughter. She has overcome so much in her short life. She's 21 and has had a hole repaired in her heart, brain surgery for moya moya, has rhematoid arthritis and had hand surgery a few months back for trigger finger. She has to get the other hands done soon. She is a planner, like me. The first thing she said before she greeted anyone was, "Where are we going to put all the chairs when we open presents? Let's slide this recliner here..." A girl after my own heart.
Jimmy - my uncle who had brain surgery. He is Momma and Melanie's brother. My grandmother thought for a while he was her boyfriend. How embarassing! She thought he "quit her" when he stopped coming around during his recovery period. Bless their hearts! Jimmy held all the babies and was seen sweeping the floor. I'd say for a man who had brain surgery on the 15th that he' doing very well. He is having the gamma knife procedure done in January. He has faith that moves mountains and is my personal earth-hero. Jimmy is like Moses, he's the most humble man on the face of the earth, I think. I want to be like him when I grow up.
Susan - Jimmy's wife. She shops for my grandmother every year and is a great cook. She's an excellent mother to her sons and has the same same faith Jimmy does.
James & John - 8 year old twins of Jimmy and Susan. Still fully believe in Santa and were mondo excited about the night and the presents and still talk about their trip to Disneyworld over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Kristyn & Corey - bonus daughter and son-in-law. You could have knocked me over with a feather when they came in. She of the kidney stone, yes! They loaded her up on pain meds and I have never seen her so drunk in my life. She wasn't embarassingly drunk. Just slept alot and couldn't form a complete sentence for a few hours. We didn't trust her to hold the baby, so when he, um, filled his diaper, I refused to change it for the fourth time and handed him to Corey.
Steve - my beloved. I was so glad to see him come in with my other grandson Nolan, who he had picked up from his other grandmother's, Kristyn's mom. He is 16 months old and when he saw me he clapped his hand and gave me a big open-mouthed sloppy kiss. I love baby drool. What can I say?
The food was all laid out on the table and we munched when we got the desire. We did finger foods and desserts and it was awesome. We flitted from place to place, chatting with each family member, reflecting on what we had gone through this year and thanking God for the gift of having us all together in one place. We praised God for sending His Son into the world and the kids played until forever. It was a very special time. My grandmother broke my heart with her questions. Alzheimer's is such a thief, but I rejoiced that she only had questions and didn't seem agitated and antsy.
My two favorite gifts - time spent with family and the assurance my family has in Christ. Awesome Christmas!
Christmas Day we went to Steve's parents. The whole family was together there, too. It was great seeing everyone and spending time with them. His parents were in great moods and I never heard them grumble or complain. Of course, that's only because we left before Kristyn and Corey - we heard later that after we left Nolan dumped a glass of coke all over himself and the floor. Yi Yi Yi!
I took some time off from work but will go back tomorrow. I enjoyed this Christmas greatly and pray that everyone who was there this year will be the next. Life is so fleeting and I'm reminded of that in the wake of cancer and Alzheimer's and accidents. May God protect our family and bring us back next year, all together and healthy. Plus one. Paige is due in late April with a little boy named Noah James. Noah will be an angel, just like Jackson and Gracie!