This year presented a year without a Christmas tree, which has only happened one other time in my life that I remember anyway, but I’ll get to that in a minute. This year I opted not to put up a tree because we were closing on the new house on the 18th and would be moving over the next couple days afterwards. Once we got moved in, Greg asked if I wanted to get a big tree to put up, but I declined. The tree we used in the RV was only 3 feet tall, which is all that would fit. Being that none of my kids live in the area and none of them have been to my house for Christmas since I moved to the Nashville area in 2009 I didn’t see the need to have one. I had already sent all the gifts, which had been delivered a week ago.
On Christmas I got the following two pics from my two daughters of the grandkids. The first pic is my Louisiana bunch who don’t look that happy when they were opening their gifts on Christmas morning. Maybe mommy got them up a little early. I remember getting my parents up by 4 am to open gifts as we were always so excited to see what we were getting. Afterwards they would tell us to go back to bed, but we would sit in our rooms and play with all our stuff. The good old days.
This pic is of the oldest grandson and oldest granddaughter from Florida. I can’t believe my oldest grandchild will be 17 years old in a few days. I wonder where the time went and how he could be this old, which in turn makes me feel really old, but then I remind myself that I’m not that old, I just started early. Matter of fact, when I was his age I was waiting on the birth of my first child who I had five months after my 17th birthday. I grew up real fast and don’t wish that life on my worse enemy. Life was hard for me due to my own choosing, but I have come a long way since then.
I mentioned in the beginning about a Christmas without a tree. It was Christmas 1992. I had three kids, (7 years, 3 years and 21 months). We had moved to Graceville, Florida for my husband at the time and my self to attend bible college. We actually moved in on Christmas Eve. No idea why we moved in then as classes didn’t start until January some time, but I know we always done things backwards sometimes.
Anyway, we arrived on the 24th of December and didn’t have any presents for our kids as back then we didn’t have much money. One of the couples that helped with the move handed my husband a box right before they left and said, “do not open until the kids go to sleep”. We had no idea what was in the box. We unpacked as much stuff as possible to give the kids beds to sleep on, but we didn’t have a Christmas tree as we always picked a live tree and had no time to do that during the move. Matter-of-fact we didn’t even have the stuff to cook Christmas dinner, but things were fixing to change.
No sooner had we finished unloading and reality started setting in as people started knocking on our door bringing us a turkey, cooked pies and all the fixings for a Christmas dinner. I couldn’t believe the generosity of people who I had never met before. It was a blessing in disguise and God knew what we needed and he provided.
Once the kids were in bed we opened that box that the Hawkins had given us (I still remember their names, but have no idea where they are now) and again was overwhelmed by the generosity of others. The box was filled with presents for our children. As a parent, I can’t express how this made me feel. Even though we had presents, I said to my husband, “but we don’t have a tree” and he said, “it’s okay we don’t need a tree…the reason for Christmas is not about trees anyway, it’s about Christ.” And because of that, we unpacked the nativity scene and set it up so we could share with our children about the real reason for the season. It wasn’t about trees and gifts, it was about Jesus and being with family.
I don’t know if my children remember that Christmas or not as two of them were really young, but it is one that I do remind them of on occasion as even though they are adults now with kids of their own, I want them to remember what Christmas is really about and teach their children the same.
I hope all who reads this post will remember why we celebrate Christmas and glory in the things you do have instead of longing for the things you don’t.
Despite everything that has happened this year I still have a lot to be grateful for. I fixed our Thanksgiving dinner and we enjoyed our meal together just like previous years. It always feels strange only fixing enough food food for two people, and you would think after all these years, 11 to be exact, I would be used to this, but with each holiday I am reminded that all I have left is my husband and furbabies.
Yes I have grown kids and grandkids, but they never come to my house for holidays as I have lived in the Tennessee area for the past 11 years. I don’t think they realize how it hurts me that they don’t come to visit. They always want me to go to them instead.
Greg (my husband) has a saying, “Us against the world” and it really feels like that more times than not, especially at the holidays.
For this Thanksgiving, I am grateful that after all that we have been through this year we have come back together as husband and wife. We are currently in the middle of purchasing a new home which we are scheduled to close on December 18th. We will still be in the Nashville area, but will be trading the east side for the west side.
In addition to fixing our tradition dinner, I also baked a cheesecake. For the first time in my life I bought a cheesecake pan to use. It didn’t turn out as great as I would have liked, but using something new always has a few learning curves. I’m sure I will get better the more I use it. Regardless of how it turned out, it was still edible and we enjoyed every bite.
Cheesecake in my new pan
Doesn’t look the best when I took the circle off.
Thick slices that tasted delicious!
It has been months since I have seen my parents and children. My trip to Louisiana was canceled back in March due to COVID-19 and I was at the point that I needed a break from all the bullshit and was ready to take a trip. Because we live in our RV full-time we are able to take our house with us, so on Thursday, May 14th we headed to Florida. We only drove to the other side of Montgomery as we usually only drive around 4-5 hours before we stop. We don’t like doing 8-9 hour drives. We thought the worse roads we had ever been on were in Louisiana, but going through Birmingham about beat us to death. It hasn’t been that long since we drove through there, but the first time in several years since we drove with the RV attached. It makes a big difference.
We stayed at the first park we stayed in back in 2015 when we began our RV journey the first time in full-time travel mode, Montgomery South RV Park. The park has expanded since 2015 as they have installed several more lots. It was nice to get a pull-through, which all their sites are and it was long enough that we didn’t have to unhook as we would be back on the road before 8:00 am Friday morning. We only drove about two exits before getting off on Exit 142 at Priester’s Pecans. I had ordered some pecans in the mail back in April, but my mom talked about wanting some, so I stopped to get her a 5 pound bag. It would have been cheaper to order online and have them shipped. Found out the sister runs the physical store while a brother runs the online shop and since they don’t get along too well, there is more competition to see who can make more money than they other.
Once we were back on interstate, it wasn’t long before we were pulling into my parents house, arriving around 11:00 am. We only have electric hook up there, but our holding tanks hold the waste and we dump once we’re back on interstate in Alabama. Unfortunately only one daughter was able to join us and she only had 1 kid with her, but we made the most of our time together. On Friday night, we grilled steaks and had everybody over in the RV. I had to do a makeshift table to sit at, but we made it work. One thing I forgot about traveling in the RV is how much it takes to set up and take down each time you move it. I will have to get used to that again if we make too many more trips as it took a lot more time than I remember it taking to complete those tasks.
On Saturday, us girls went for a much needed pedicure while the guys worked on our A/C’s that are not functioning the way they should be. They needed some freon added and 1 of them needs a new mother board. Still having trouble finding the replacement part, but not giving up. We also went to Kohl’s to do some shopping and I’m happy to report that the clothes I bought fit perfectly when I got home. Due to COVID they won’t allow people to try on clothes, so I was taking a chance with all the weightloss as to what size to get. I picked this one correctly. After some shopping we ended up at Joe Patti Seafood to get some shrimp, not only for dinner, but also for me to put in my freezer for the future. Nothing better than fresh ocean shrimp. I also got the hubby some oysters, which he got to enjoy when we got back home.
We were supposed to split our return trip into Sunday and Monday, but we decided we would do the entire drive back on Sunday. I didn’t do any of the driving, but was extremely exhausted by the time we got home around 6:00 pm. It took a few tries to get the RV back in its spot, but without either of us killing each other, we got it done.
Just about every time I am around my Florida child, she wants a photo shoot of either the family or the kids and this trip was no different. She only wanted pics of Madi done, which I was more than happy to do, as she is a gem to photograph and is changing and growing up so fast that I want to have the memories of her childhood as much as her Momma does, if not more.
My 3 favorite poses are below. I can’t believe she is almost 7 years old. She is not a little baby anymore, instead she’s becoming a little girl who is growing up way too fast. She’ll be in second grade next year.
As I look forward to 2018 and all that we have planned I wanted to step back in time and do a review of 2017 as we had a great year.
January started with us in a small-town east of Tallahassee, Florida called Quincy. We were staying at a campground right next to Lake Talquin. It was quiet and serene, and we could see the lake right out our front door. We loved that we could walk down to the marina, climb into our boat parked in the boat slip and take a ride out on the water. Sometimes we were greeted by an alligator or two, but if you didn’t bother them, they didn’t bother you. I caught several bream and Greg was always good for a bass or two on each trip out.
This month marked my 50th birthday. Not a birthday I was really looking forward to, but the alternative would have been much worse, so I took turning the big 5-0 in strive and kept right on going. In addition, Greg had surgery this month which required a stay in the hospital for several days.
This month brought us a brand-new baby and little Miss Ryan was born on the 28th in Louisiana. We left Florida around the 20th to make the trip towards LA to be there for the birth and for me to stay a few weeks after to help if Momma needed help. It was great being there and seeing that sweet baby so soon after she was born. It’s always an experience seeing the birth of a newborn baby.
After the baby’s birth, the plan was for us to move to Texas so about three weeks into April we headed for the Lake Fork area in Alba. It’s a very small town in the middle of no where land of BFE as some people would call it. We found an RV/Tiny House park right on the water. Unfortunately, our lot was not right on the water as you had to own a tiny house to live right on the water and we had our big rig, so we stayed in the middle section. It was always quiet and nice being that close to the lake.
This month meant going back to work to earn a little money for me as I decided to go back to work for a little while. I had to drive a little over an hour one way to each day and it didn’t take long for that to get old.
We spent as much time as we could around the rain on the lake enjoying the fishing. Other than that, the month of June was not very exciting.
I took a trip to Louisiana this month to see the new baby and to be in attendance for her christening. The weekend also marked the third birthday for Jackson, so I was able to do things in one month on the same weekend. The drive there and back was long, but so worth it to be able to hold my babies again.
This year seems to be the year for surgery and hospitals for Greg as he had hernia surgery this month. While he was in the hospital I worked from my hotel room in between visits to the hospital and Greg’s parents came to the house to babysit the fur babies for us as the hospital was an hour and a half from home and too much to drive back and forth every day. He was there for about 5 days.
Greg came home, but ended up back in the hospital with complications twice before we finally got him on the right track and healing. He ended up with a wound vac that would take him seven or eight weeks before he would heal. With all that was going on with Greg’s medical issues and issues at work, I ended up quitting my job this month.
We spent the entire month with a home health nurse visiting three days a week to replace the wound vac and make sure Greg healed correctly. We couldn’t do any fishing and the weather was mostly either windy or rainy so even if Greg had been feeling like it, fishing wouldn’t have been possible.
Time to celebrate turkey day and we did just that. We had ham, turkey & dressing and all the trimmings. It was a nice celebration. Greg finally got healed and got released from the surgeons’ care. We have a lot to be thankful for and grateful that he made it through this year.
Wow we made it to the last month of the year and boy was this month a busy one. I took one weekend to go visit the grandbabies in Louisiana and celebrate Christmas with them. Greg road with me so I wouldn’t have to do all the driving myself and give me company. We also took the fur babies. Then I took a weekend and flew to Florida to be with two other grandbabies to celebrate with them. It was go, go, go. The week after I returned from FL we drive to Tennessee to put our boat in storage and within a week of getting back we were loading up the fifth wheel and heading to Tennessee to start a new chapter in our life.
Neither of us were happy with life in Texas and it just never felt like we could make that home, so we decided to move back to Tennessee where it all started for us back in 2014 in Nashville. Although we didn’t settle in the city of Nashville, we are only about 45 minutes away in Clarksville. Greg lived here back in the 80’s and late 90’s when he was stationed at Fort Campbell, so to him it feels like he’s returning home. I’m looking forward to going back to work and then buying a house. We are putting our RV back on the market and hoping that someone will want to buy a great rig and give it the proper road time it so deserves.
Here’s to 2018 and all that it has to offer.
Another Christmas has come and gone and this one was much different from last year. Last year we were in Florida and it was around 60-65 degrees; however, this year we are in Texas and it never reached 40 all day.
I have so many memories of Christmas’ past and the traditions that I shared not only with my children when they were growing up, but also from my own childhood. I can still remember getting my Baby Alive! And playing with her for hours and hours and getting Barbie dolls and make up dolls, an Easy Bake Oven and more. One of the items I remember the most is all of us kids getting a go-cart when I was only five years old. My siblings were nine and eleven, so they could control the pedal and steering better. Within the first week I had already hit the side of the brick house and broke the go-cart to the point that dad had to get it welded back together. That would not be the only time I done that. Once I got it down pat how to drive it, it was a blast especially driving through the cow field trying to avoid cow patties.
Our family tradition was waking up very early and opening presents. Us kids were always up by 5:00 am and we were done within the hour. Some years we were up even earlier, and Mom would try to make us go back to sleep. Yea right! They only one who went back to sleep was her and dad as us kids always started playing without toys.
Once we got up we were off to Granny and Pops house to spend the holiday with all the cousins and aunts and uncles. It was always fun to play with our cousins and every year we got the same thing from my Granny…handmade panties for the girls, socks for the boys and handmade silky pillowcases for the parents. It never failed that the panties would be too big, but we never said anything as it was special for Granny to have made them. All the family drew names, so we could exchange gifts and only have to buy for how many was in our own family, so we always had to buy for five.
When I had my kids, I tried to instill some of the same traditions with them along with a few of my own. The one thing I always insisted on was getting each child the same number of gifts and making them open them one at a time, so I could see what they got and from who and, so I could take pictures. I was always a big picture person long before I got into being an amateur photographer about ten years ago.
The one tradition I miss the most is all of us being together for Christmas. It meant so much to me as a child to spend the holidays with my extended family and I done that with my kids until their father passed away and then it seemed like Christmas was never the same. In the last ten years I have not once had all three of my kids home for the holidays and it really hurts that the one tradition I wanted to carry on forever for my kids and grandkids will never take place. There is too much hurt feelings and family issues to keep this from ever happening.
If you have traditions that you share with your children, try to keep them alive as much and as long as possible.
I did get to see my grandkids for Christmas, but it required me traveling to each of their homes this year. I drove to Louisiana the first weekend of December to spend time with Jackson and Ryan. They were so adorable as always and I couldn’t believe how much they are both growing up. I made thirty-six-inch pillows for each of them, so they would have pillows to lay on the floor. His had dinosaurs and each side and hers was made of navy blue on the top and bottom and pink and white chevron around the edges. I added HTV vinyl that said, “little princess” to one side. Other than the pillows, they each received clothes and he got some sea animals. I usually leave the toys to mommy and daddy to get. I made cookies with Jackson while I was there and got as many kisses as I could from Miss Ryan. It was an enjoyable visit and as always, I look forward to seeing them all again soon.
Nana with Ryan (L) and Jackson (R)
The third week of December involved a plane ride to Florida. I flew out of DFW in Dallas to Tallahassee. It was a straight flight, so it didn’t take too long. This visit was to see Colby and Madison. I couldn’t believe it when I walked in a saw Colby. He’s a couple weeks shy of being 14 and he has sprouted up in the last few months. He’s taller than his mom, almost as tall as his dad and way taller than me. Miss Madison is a little firecracker. She was full of energy and played with me more in three days than she has in her entire life. They both received clothes and then Madison got a baby doll and Colby got headphones and a necklace. We went shopping, had pedicures, a great family night out and much more. It was hard to leave, but I was ready to get back home.
Nana with Colby and Madison
I made it back home on the 18th and I was ready to see my babies, which happen to have fur. Daddy said they missed me because every time they heard a noise they ran to the door to see if I was coming home. I always love my visits to see the kids, but I miss being at home as well. I’m hoping I can get everyone to my house next year (if we have a house bought by then), but it might mean having one for a few days and then the other for the next few days. Time will tell as we have a whole year to figure it out.
If you have family traditions, please share especially if they involve adult children and how you celebrate the holidays with them.
In the next few days we will be headed to Tennessee as Greg and I move our home on wheels to a new location. We’ll be in the town of Clarksville, which is about 45 minutes from Nashville where we met three years ago. Life will be changing once again as not only are we moving, but I will be going back to work as well. Wish me luck on that one as I must find a job.
Greg & Anna