Monday, May 13, 2024

Christmastime with Grandma and Grandpa

Ahh. BFFs. Can we all agree that whispering 6-year-olds and sleepover to-do lists are quite the cutest? Their friendship has blossomed and Christmas in Utah this year was delightful with their camaraderie. 

Con quietly steps into the kitchen to clean the dishes after every meal. Even though it doesn't seem like anything to brag about, it's one of my favorite things about him. He has such a gentle, calm demeanor, and never wants any recognition or praise, but I hope he knows he's seen and appreciated.

Jean is a master at feeding a crowd and makes it seem like it's hardly any work at all. One moment we're sitting around a clean table chatting and laughing about nothing in particular, and the next there's a hot meal being pulled from the oven and set out for an entire extended family. Afterwards, there's hardly a mess to clean except for dishes, and I've really started to believe that Jean must be hiding the fact that she has been schooled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It's the only place I know of where grand meals appear from nowhere... 

Everything about Grandma and Grandpa's house is calm and peaceful. 

There is always someone to play a game with,

and there is always someone to hug. 

Even Maisy loves Grandma and Grandpa's house. And, thankfully, although far from dog people, Grandma and Grandpa love Maisy, too.

Now, let's not confuse a calm and peaceful house with 'boring'... because visiting Grandma and Grandpa is anything but boring. They spend a lot of time thinking of activities for all ages, and there is always something coming up on the schedule.  This year we went to see the lights at Temple Square, caroling to all the widows in Con and Jean's ward, and to an epic Christmas party at Heidi's house.

1. Temple Square.

There is a lot of construction happening on Temple Square right now because the temple is being renovated, so there weren't many lights.

Hold on- I just heard what I said... not many lights... there were HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of lights! Rumor has it that there were 75,000 lights on this tree alone! 

But in comparison to what they generally have, there were a lot less, so it only took us a few minutes to walk through and see them all.

This is me, attempting to get a selfie so you would know that I was there, but people kept jumping into the frame. (I like it better that way, anyway.)

I can't walk around Temple Square on a night like that and not think about "the Light that shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not." 

There is so much I can't comprehend about Christ and God and the eternities, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the Light I do see. Eternities aside, I can't even comprehend wrapping a tree in this many lights ( I can barely wrap my own Christmas tree like a burrito). Yet here it is. And, comprehending it not, I can still stand in awe of the effect the light has on the darkness around me. 

Eliza did not join us on this adventure- it was a little late for her and she had Grandma to play with. So it was me and all of my boys. How did I get so lucky to be surrounded with such great men? 

Steve and April came along with Jonah, too, and all of those boys get along so well.

It was kind of cool that we didn't have a whole lot to see on Temple Square, because after all the lights were seen we still felt like we had a lot of time. So we walked to the Tabernacle and went inside. This picture stopped me for several, several minutes. The whole picture extends out to both sides, this is only about a quarter of it, but there was something about that mother reaching her whole body forward to help her daughter come closer to Christ that was particularly moving to me. 

I would do anything to help my own kids get closer to Christ.

We had the place largely to ourselves, and it was a beautiful experience to walk the halls and see all the art.

2. Caroling to the widows in the ward

Jean has always been an incredible example of caring for the widows in her ward. And she often includes us in her service. The women love Jean and are always delighted to see her. Caroling is a funny thing for me... I always feel like I don't want to go (because I don't want to disturb people), but I always come home happy that I went. 

3. An epic Christmas party at Heidi's house.

Grandma and Grandpa both have a deep love for music, and one of the things Jean asks for every Christmas is for a family talent show. There were two highlights this year... one was Livvy and Eliza, back for the second year in a row to perform a Christmas song. 

We always hold our breath while they sing because if we breathed normally we would buckle in laughter. Eliza is musical, precise, and quiet as she hits every note dead center, while Livvy is musical, loud, and untethered in her note selection. Eliza doesn't know how to process the sound much of the time, as you can see here - she can't understand why Livvy doesn't just sing the right note.

The second highlight was these boys: 

They performed a hilarious rendition of ... something ... I can't even remember what the song was. But I remember Carson jumping out and rapping in his sunglasses with full energy in a way that shocked right through me. He's generally so quiet and steady. The entire room erupted in laughter!

Next up at the party was a white elephant exchange. 

Followed by games for as long as anyone wanted to last. 

And I will leave you with the star of the white elephant exchange: 

It tasted just like a pickle. 
Or so I was told. 
I was unwilling to try it.

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