|After making to Chicago we got to the business of tree shopping|
This Christmas we got lucky. Zeik the Fit delivered us to Chicago two days before a storm front, where we ate, drank, ate more, and even picked out a real Christmas tree, which we decorated under Mom's watchful eye.
|OOOOPS! What a bunch of amateurs!|
|After a chainsaw job on the front steps, some lights and decorations, it began to look a lot like Christmas...|
We hung out with my parents and family friends, eating, drinking, cooking, shopping, getting/giving presents, watching movies, playing pool, and making fun of Chopper and Jake playing their special game of steal the ball.
|After all the cooking we can finally eat!|
Soon it was time to head east. Somehow oblivious to the upcoming East coast storm, we loaded our loot and headed to Baltimore. We drove thru a couple of micro-storms but were truly stunned as we snuggled with our laptops back home, to read the headlines of the crippling East coast white out that was raging a few hundred miles to the North. Snow? Where was this snow? All we had was wind, again blowing close to 30 knots, again for three days in a row.
|Travis' homemade cookies ready for packaging and distribution (if we can keep them from sliding off the table)|
You'd think after 12 hours in the car, we had our fill of travel, but now it was time to load up again, and have Christmas with Travis' family, where again we ate way too much, and received way too many presents.
|Both our families were respectful with our choice of vegetarianism, and both offered some yummy no-faces food.|
|Ooooohs and ahhs as we stock up on fleece and other boat friendly clothing|
This Christmas was different however. Now that we are officially husband and wife, we stayed in T's Grandmother's house with his groovy Uncle John. John moved back into his childhood home to take care of his ailing father and stayed, taking care of his aging mother.
|John has a flair for decorating and subtlety!|
|Grandma's house was the place where all the family gathers for Christmas. Everywhere you look there is something to see. I have been here many times, but every year I am astounded at the many many things on display.|
Tressie or Grandma, as she was known to most people, died in November of this year. She was in her eighties and despite her many ailments, remained a loving, kind and generous woman. She was very much loved and is missed terribly. She was part of the original "mountain clan" that lived in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia, before they were made into a National Park. Her family were homesteaders before homesteading was fashionable, and served as an inspiration to young Travis with her self sufficient lifestyle "on the mountain". She sometimes spoke of the Depression, and how her family didn't even know it happened. Nothing was different for them, because everything they ate or produced they did themselves. Voluntary simplicity and the joy of being were their staples, and hard work the backbone of their existence. Ah the good 'ol days!
Things did change for Tressie and her family when the state of Virginia began purchasing the mountainous farmland and giving it to the Federal Government to be made into a National Park. No one wanted to leave, but they were given no choice. Tressies' mother simply refused to leave saying they will have to carry her by force... and so they did. There is still an old picture, of Tressie's mother being carried out of her home in her rocking chair, atop the shoulders of several burly local officials.
If you ever visit the park, and peek into the visitor's Center, you will see the farmland that used to be home to many families just like Tressie's . It's surreal to me that these pictures would be so proudly displayed as part of "history". I guess its better then hiding them in some Federal Depository of Shame
(that place is too full anyway) but it begs the question, Where does all the heartache, the suffering we create, go? Is it stored in some virtual dimension, that will one day burst when critical mass is reached, swallowing all other dimensions due to its sheer size and therefore gravity?
So the only answer is... be kind NOW; to yourself, to your family, to those you know and those you don't. Practice the love that is expounded so loudly in Christmas cards year round! Try it now.. smile. It will make you healthy, and add good vibrations to that other dimension where all the warm and fuzzy feelings go. I made my deposit did you? We are in this together, all of us! Yes even you.
* for more amazing pictures of Tressie's and John's Christmas Utopia visit our flickr page