This year, the group consisted of myself, Chrystal, Rachel, Rick and Jerrica. We met at Walmart and began our night. It was crowded, but not as much as we were used to. In many ways, it was sort of more enjoyable that way. We purchased a few items and headed for the check out. It was then I looked up and almost passed out. Let's just say it was a classically dressed walmart shopper. The lady had nude colored pants on and I was almost sure she was without bottoms on. I was wrong, thankfully, but the group didn't let me hear the end of that. So, when we got to the check out lane, I spoke to the cashier. I encouraged her to check the lady behind me really good as she was just released from jail for shoplifting. I admitted she was my sister, but didn't want her to go back to jail and to please understand she was a kleptomaniac. By the time I was done cashing out, my sister had heard our conversation. The cashier was checking out everything Chrystal was buying and her cart to make sure nothing was being stolen. Chrystal finally "admitted to the cashier" she had a problem, but assured her it was under control. When my sister Rachel walked by who had cashed out at another lane, she spoke out and said, "Chrystal, you didn't steal anything did you?" The cashier was a little nervous, but thankfully Chrystal didn't steal. Well, then again, maybe she did. While we were shopping, she saw a toy that her daughter really wanted, but they were out of. It was in another person's cart. Now that person was looking at clothes and left her cart in the aisle. I don't want to say anything, but Lici did love that toy!
We then went out to the car. We were all going to ride around in Rick and Rachel's car. We put a few items in my trunk and headed to the car. It was then that I saved Jerrica's life (maybe a little over dramatic here). She was walking between cars when a speeding car came flying by. Let's just leave it at a close call. We then went Eastgate and went to Toys R Us and Kohls. The lines were still pretty large and I again was able to convince Chrystal to spend more of her money (it is always a goal of mine). We got a few good deals and then Chrystal swore she was done being talked into buying things by me. It was in line that I saw some awesome Charlie Brown Christmas glasses. Her family, on Christmas, were going to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas movie, so I encouraged her to get them. She refused, swearing she would not give in. I was disappointed I was unable to convince her to do so...that is, until two days ago when I saw this picture on her Instagram account:
Now this new store was pretty awesome. They had a little bit of everything. I didn't buy anything, but they had some odd things. It was there I found a little gem. I took this little gem and put it on and hid in an aisle I knew my sister Chrystal was coming to. It worked to perfection! It really woke her up!
We then headed out and back to the car. Other than a useless stop at Meijer, there isn't much more to report. It was a good night filled with lots of laughs.
After a few busy weeks at school and church, Christmas finally arrived. I love Christmas. This year seemed to have a theme to it. It was an unplanned theme, but one definitely developed. I call it a nostalgic Christmas for me.
You see, it started on Christmas day. After a lovely Christmas Eve at my in-laws with gifts, food, and a Garfield Christmas special, we spent Christmas at home-as we always do. It was a wonderful day of family time. To me, one of the most important parts of the holiday season is TRADITION. We woke up that morning, but no one can get out of bed until 8. We read the Scriptures and had prayer and then opened gifts. Oh, how I love to see the kids excitement as they do so. We then played some games. I lost at Trouble, I lost at Sorry, I lost at Pie in the Face, and then lost to Alex in baseball on his new game system. I hate losing, even to my kids; but Christmas is different. It's ok for that one day. Then, my friend Matt dropped off a gift. I could not believe what he gave me. There in the package was my hat. You see, when we were teenagers, I always wore the same hat. I had a black Boston Celtics hat with Larry Bird embroidered signature on the front and his name and number on the back. When I was about 16 or 17, we were at an amusement park and while riding the roller coaster, my precious hat flew off. We tried to jump a fence to get it...no luck. We tried to talk a worker to getting it for me...no luck. I sadly had to leave my hat. For years, we both joked about losing my hat that day and I swore I would one day get it back. Well, Matt found the exact hat on the internet and brought it to me. I couldn't believe it. It brought back a lot of memories. I so appreciate it Bro. Matt!
The next day, we went to my parents. It was such a joyous time. My dad again put on his Christmas hat and read the Christmas Story to all us kids and now his grandkids. Dad again cried during prayer (and this year his dog decided to bark through the prayer-demonic I believe). We then all opened gifts. Dad always starts with stockings. I replaced my stocking a few years ago with a better one. It was again awesome to watch the kids and us adults open our stockings. Rachel got her make up, Chrystal got her nail stuff, and I got my chocolate peanuts and another present we shall leave anonymous dad gets me each year. We then started opening gifts. This year, my sisters got me two special gifts.
First, they got me a pack of M.U.S.C.L.E. men! I absolutely loved these as a kid. They were my favorite toy growing up. They even got me rubber bands to go with them.
I couldn't believe they found these. Again, so many memories. Then my sisters got me a polar bear. You see, when I was growing up, I had a favorite stuffed animal. Obviously it was a polar bear. His name was Dan. Even though I grew out of the "sleep with a stuffed animal" stage of life, I kept Dan. He was that one stuffed toy I always liked keeping. Dan went everywhere with us. We moved a lot, and Dan was taken each time. It was while I was away at college my freshman year that my family moved again. That time, my dad decided to throw away Dan. He was always brought up when we spoke of bitterness in our house and I am glad that Dan II has now arrived at our home.
We spent the rest of the day playing games (we loved pie in the face-see Chrystal Snell's Facebook page for videos). We laughed and shared stories and watched the kids play. We just enjoyed it all. Then, we had not even gotten all back home, before we all were texting each other and sharing how we so much appreciate each other and the love we can share. I told them "I am glad that all our children see it as normal that family get together and enjoy each other's company, laugh, cry, and love." I want that to be the normal for them someday. I want them to have traditions, good traditions. While watching the Garfield Christmas special Christmas Eve, I think that Garfield said it best: "Christmas, it's not the getting or the giving; it's the loving." That is what it's all about.