Whew! I am back. It was a whirlwind of a week....in a blink of an eye, I can't believe it's over.
Chandler, Rylee and I ventured out on our road trip to El Paso on Monday. I tried to leave early enough to where I wouldn't have to drive at night, but that didn't happen. I am not a fan of driving at night...sometimes I hallucinate...and here's why:
Side Note on Why I Don't Like to Drive at Night:
While I was at Texas Tech, I drove home one weekend. I had two friends with me. In Texas, you can drive for what seems like hours and still be in the middle of nowhere. We were just over an hour or so outside of El Paso. It hadn't been dark for long, when suddenly a family of deer appeared in the middle of the road. When a deer is spotlighted, they freeze (or so I am told, and now I know). The "deer in headlights" expression is forever imprinted in my mind, as I plowed right into the daddy deer. Hit him so hard, he ended up in two pieces after he busted my whole front end and flew up over my car. I don't know much about deer, but apparently it was a five-pointer, I later found out, after a rancher pulled over and asked if he could pick him up. Anyway, angels were certainly with us that night not only because we weren't hurt, but, because when I pulled over, we just happened to be directly across the street from a border patrol check station. I was able to call my parents (in the days before cell phones....) and my mom came to get us. Freaky night and it took me a very long time before I would make that drive again. And that is why driving at night and I aren't really friends.
Anyway, back to my trip. All I can say, is that it was great. And it's always too quick. There is never enough time to spend with any one person to catch up and for sure that happened. I can't remember the last time when everyone was together (minus my dad....he and my mom are divorced now and he lives in Florida, and Craig, he had to work). To get everyone to come, it was a great effort. We had family come in from New York, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and California. Some drove. Some flew. Some traveled as a single, some as a couple and some of us with our kids. Kids ages from almost 2 to 17. It's not easy to travel....especially during the holidays. It's stressful...financially and otherwise. But, we all did it, and I think everyone agrees it was well worth it.
When my family gathers, it's always around meals. We eat. A lot. I made sure I made it to my old stomping grounds to get my fill of Charcoaler's burgers and Avila's Mexican food. For Thanksgiving, there were 38 of us! 38!! There was football, chatter, laughter, crying and whining and it was all great. I don't remember any family gathering where we had so many little ones around! And lots of fabulous food. My grandmother produced 5 daughters that all inherited her knack for being an amazing cook. Friday night, we had another big family meal that consisted of some amazing Chinese food. Yes, we ate a lot...
The day after Thanksgiving was one of my favorite days. It was cold and rainy when we woke up. The girls and I drove over to my cousin Allyson's house for breakfast (yes, another meal). My sister Andrea came with her kids and and all my cousins were there. Sitting around, drinking coffee, eating breakfast watching it rain. Kids playing. It was so great. It was just us "kids". Our parents were off at their own "cousins breakfast". It strikes me as funny to think about it....I think of us still as kids, but here we all were with our own kids, doing our own thing together. I treasure that morning. Once it cleared up, we all went to ride horses at (cousin) Alec's ranch....it was chilly and windy, but what a great day. Kids had so much fun. Which by the way, I am so freakin' sore. Not sure if it's from riding, or a little bit of walking I did or from driving. But, dang, I am hurtin'.....
Yesterday, we made the trek back. Again, hoping to leave early enough to where I wouldn't have to drive in the dark. This time, we made the trip in one shot. Didn't want to spend the night anywhere. 10 hours in the car and the last 2, tired and in the dark...nope, I wasn't super happy about that. But, made it home, safe and sound. We missed having Craig with us. And it was great sleeping in my own bed last night.
Traditions of old are hard to keep up. I miss my grandparents so much. They are what held us and all of our traditions together for so long. They would be in hog heaven to see their great-grandchildren running around. Too, it's hard as we get older and our families expand and we spread out. At some point, we make new traditions with our new families. So, for this, I am grateful that we were all able to spend this time together...who knows how much longer it will be before it happens again? Sooner than later, I hope!
It's been a re-cup day around here. Homework, laundry, cleanup and grocery shopping. I think I just heard the Christmas tree box come into the house, so let the decorating begin!