Whew! We rolled into Chattanooga on Saturday evening after two days of car travel to get back. 'Home' is such an interesting and amorphous place, isn't it? Two weeks ago, I was so excited to go home, and now I am content to be home again.
Anyway, as I unpack and settle, let me share about some of the memories and mementos I collected over these last two weeks.
1. Receipts, receipts, receipts! Ian manages the money in our household, so he's got most of them. I personally don't have that many in my wallet right now--but there sure are a lot! Motel receipts (they left the light on for us!), gas receipts, and fast food receipts from the trip itself; day-after-Christmas Shopping With The Family receipts; and then of course there are the pharmacy receipts and the hospital receipt.
2. Medications. Traveling far away brings 'exotic' germs to my immune system. The body is not accustomed to the cold & flu germs I encounter so far away! Thus the pharmacy receipts...coldy, germy, ill. Ick. Still, better to be sick on vacation than sick at home! This cold in my throat (achy-sore) and my sinuses etc. (post-nasal drip and 'fullness of ears'). And then there are the eye drops. Yes, the evening before we left, I developed pinkeye. It went from nothing to a little itch to puffiness, weeping, and mucousy in just 6 hours!! I was afraid of losing my eye to an eye infection, so we went to the emergency room. At midnight. And all they could tell me was 'pinkeye.' The co-pay was high but at least they didn't charge us for the prescription eye drops. Sheesh.
3. New Gifts! I love to choose just the right gift and see the receiver open it up and light up. I also like to open gifts and see what ___ chose just for me. What a treat! I got a nice picture frame from my sister, a book from my sister and brother-in-law, movies from my inlaws (they're big movie people!), and much more...including shopping bucks for Traditional Boxing Day Shopping Excursion!
4. New Stuff! We give each other gift cards and money to spend on our traditional outing. We all (whoever is celebrating with us) pile into one car (we borrowed a 14-passenger van!), make several stops (everyone has to get out at every stop), make any necessary exchanges and desired purchases, have fast food lunch and a good Mexican restaurant dinner, and take snack bags along. (They are called Crab Bags, because we tend to get crabby when we're hungry!) We might shop in pairs, in groups, or as singles, but when we all get to our concluding destination (someone's home), we have "Show and Tell."
5. Sweaters. This year, we added 'Tacky Sweater Competition' to the Mexican Restaurant Dinner, so I have a pretty bad one. I also have a pretty chenille one I bought at Dick's Sporting Goods and a black cardigan I bought on clearance at Dillard's. Yay.
6. Most important: Memories. Mom always said, when we were growing up, whether we were on vacation, or doing family yard work, or going out for family dinner on someone's birthday, that "we're making a memory!" How can words describe the wealth of all my new memories: silly moments--Dad's ultra sneeze, Maija's sugar cookies, or the tacky sweaters; serious moments--the closeness, tenderness and intimacy of the "Messages of Love" on Christmas morning, or the toast that Mom and Dad, Dace, Ian and I had at midnight on January 2nd; sweet moments that I'll savor--seeing my sister in her own home and helping her host Christmas dinner, successful conversations with my family members--and all those everyday moments of dishwashing, driving around, chats and quiet moments, and traditions--Christmas Eve Gifts, Stove Top Stuffing, Shopping Day, Giuseppe's Pizza, New Year's Eve Ball Drop, and on and on and on.
What a blessed Christmas. Every year I say it's the best one--but this one truly is the very best!