Since two of our children are married with families, attending Southeastern Baptist Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and one has a baby and the other is expecting, we needed to take a trip east if we were going to have all the kids together for Christmas. So following our church’s Christmas musical the morning of the 22nd, Cheryl, Paul, Michael & I headed out immediately to the east. Almost 24 hours later, we arrived, a bit weary, but so excited to see everyone that we had no trouble staying awake — especially when we saw little Corley Jane, whom we had missed greatly:
That reunion was just the first offering of a great family Christmas week, which included two extended families — the Thomases and the Dufrenes — which blended together in a way which only God can orchestrate. We had the greatest time playing games, talking — and the occasional crazy moments: like our combined family “impromptu Christmas caroling” through seminary housing:
Other highlights included:
Corley Janey & I got a lot of cuddling in, which had to be one of the highlights of the trip for me. I suppose that in the process, some of my cologne rubbed off on her. Monday evening, Libby came down the hallway carrying Corley, and she was chanting: “You smell like Boompa; You smell like Boompa!”
David: “Oh, is that what you say when she has wet her diaper?”
(I thought that was ugly 😉 It didn’t stop me from cuddling and stealing kisses, however!)
PRIDE GOETH …
David, after an exchange with one of the other kids in the Gingerbread House competition who had turned down one of his suggestions: “Have fun in second place.” (It was his wife Ashley who ended up winning, however!)
NEW TIME ZONE?
Cheryl: “Shawn, on your post promoting the kids’ gingerbread house contest, you said it would be over by noon ‘Easter time’ — you left off the ‘n.'”
Me: “That’s not a mistake — ever since Jesus rose from the dead, I have been living on Easter time!”
(That sounded good, but of course, it really was a typo. I promptly went and fixed it!)
Dave & Ashley had the big news of the trip. We knew they were expecting a baby, but we didn’t know if it was going to be a boy or a girl until Monday night, when they made the announcement. We can’t wait until baby Abigail makes her debut, Lord willing in mid-May! Here’s Ashley (in her pink hooded baby bath towel!) sharing with family members: “It’s a girl!”
Josh to Cheryl: “Sorry for using the word ‘brothel’ in front of your 15-year-old son.”
Cheryl: “That’s ok. He had to tell me what it meant.”
CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE
On Christmas Eve we had our traditional home service, focused around the readings of the nativity stories from Matthew and Luke, and the singing of Christmas hymns that went with each reading. It was pleasantly different with a toddler for the first time in many a year — Corley Janey added her own “real-life infant sound effects”, as well as her own take on a Christmas hymn. As you can imagine, she stole the show!
A NEW RESOLUTION:
Michael told Cheryl that he was going to tell everyone that SHE had made us late to one of the family gatherings.
Cheryl: “Don’t throw me under the bus, and I won’t through YOU under the bus.”
Then she added: “Let’s make this a bus-free zone!”
At one point, all of our families were sitting around talking, and a certain recording artist from Louisiana came up. Someone said, “He is really good, but he looks like he just came from prison!”
Cheryl: “Maybe he did!”
Gilbo: “He’s got all the signs of it.”
David (as if starting a list of the signs): “He grew up in Louisiana …”.
We were so thankful that Myra & Wes McKay, former church members/current seminary students graciously allowed us to stay in their apartment while we were in Wake Forest. We did our best to be as inobtrusive as possible, including just using one towel each and letting them dry each day. The second day we were there, when Cheryl had finished her shower, she hollered to me from the other room: “Remember you have the green towel.”
“No, I have the brown one”
“No, it’s the green one … are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m absolutely sure. I remember because it is the same color as the ones I use at home.”
After a pause, Cheryl concluded with resignation: “Well, today you have the green one.”
WHICH IS BETTER, KIDS?
Food, of course, was a central focus of the gatherings. We did not suffer for lack of good things to eat, from our family’s traditional chicken enchiladas on Christmas Eve, to the Dufrene’s Cajun stuffing, turkey and ham for Christmas Day, and all kinds of pies and candies and goodies. While planning the menu Libby asked: “Is everybody ok with us making TWO chocolate chip pies?”
Everyone looked at each other — of COURSE we were good with two instead of one! David spoke for everyone, launching into an impromptu AT&T commercial spoof:
(Imitating the adult) : “OK, kids. which is better, ONE chocolate chip pie, or TWO chocolate chip pies … ?”
(Imitating the child who answers) : “TWO chocolate chip pies are better, ’cause if we only have one then when we eat it, and run out, and we want some more, and don’t have any, and then go around grandma’s house, screaming ‘we want more, we want more!'”
THE WAY WE PLAY
A highlight of the short week was all the games we played: Scattergories, Settlers of Catan, Spikeball, and more. Before we plunged into the word game Scattergories late Christmas evening, we all played a practice round first, since many of us had never played before. In the course of the round, we got into a very lively discussion about whether a certain word was acceptable or not.
After some minutes of debate, I finally exclaimed: “Why are we arguing about this? This is the just the practice round!”
David: “We are practicing our arguments!”
(Like we need any practice on that!)
Blessedly, the only “arguments” we really had during the trip were friendly ones, over board games. We are thankful to God for His protection and blessing on the trip, for the sweet fellowship, and for everyone who prayed for us. We hope that each of our friends had as merry a Christmas as we did, and from our family to yours, we pray God’s blessings for you this coming New Year!