Although Christmas is already gone, I am still finding myself with quite a few Christmas-related posts; if it's okay with you, I'm going to extend the Smithellaneous Christmas season just a little bit longer.
As you can probably imagine, the best part of Christmas for us was last Friday night when Nathan and Meagan walked in our front door after flying in from Florida.
Steve's and my original plan was to have us all decorate the tree on Saturday night and then go out to eat to celebrate Meagan’s 25th birthday and Sarah’s (soon to come) 10th Transplant Anniversary.
Since we were going to an elegant nice restaurant (thankfully, we had saved up four gift cards), we decided that we should all dress up a little for the occasion. Imagine our surprise when, without any pre-planning, we all showed up to decorate the tree in the same colors—gray, black and red!
Since we were already inadvertently color coordinated, we decided to add the Taking of the Family Photo to the Decorating of the Tree and The Going Out To Eat line up of events for the evening.
Here are our two newlywed(ish) family members, rocking the red, black and gray look.
For over ten years, each time we have decorated our tree, we've played this Amy Grant recording in the background. It was so nice of her to also wear red in order to fit in with our overall color scheme.
(By the way, if you noticed that I’m wearing something different here than in the official Family Photo, it’s because I decided to change into something slightly more dressy when I found out we would be doing the photo that night.)
And here I am with the newest Smith Family dog, photo ready! (And if you haven't seen the final version of the photo, just scroll down two posts.)
And speaking of our beloved new doggie, here a couple of photos (taken the following day) of Nathan and Summer hanging out together. From the time Nathan was about ten years old, he has had just one dog in his life so it was heart warming to watch him and Summer start to forge a brand new relationship.
She’s a little slow to warm up to new people but she did let her big brother hold her and scratch her ears and they got along just fine.
Nathan also saw Snowy's grave for the first time during this visit home which was sad, considering all the memories the two of them share.
The sight of that grave reminded me that last year there was a different dog in the room with us as Steve read the Christmas Story.
It also reminded me all over again that, even as much as we wish it weren't true, things in life rarely stay the same.
Beloved people (and pets) come and go. Families shift shape and change. People that were at the Christmas table the year before aren't there anymore. New people arrive. Careers and finances change. Heartache happens. Babies are born. Parents divorce. Kids leave for college. Parents die. Joy arrives in unexpected guises. Life happens.
But the one thing that does remain the same is that the Christmas season arrives--year after year after year, giving us new reasons for joy, new reasons for hope.
Sometimes the reasons for joy are as simple as a gone away son holding a brand new dog; or a new daughter-in-law making our family circle a little larger and a little lovelier.
And sometimes the reasons for hope come to us in the gift of a daughter, ten years past her bone marrow transplant and doing wonderfully; other times, it comes in a favorite voice, singing the sweet, old Christmas carols that stitch together all the sadness and all the celebrations, all the memories, and all the miracles of Christmas.