Sunday, December 28, 2014

Leaving Kentucky

Talented Niece #1 draws Commuter Family on Crayola Drawing Board.
We are driving out of Kentucky Sunday morning. We had a truly wonderful holiday week with Brother, Nephew, Niece #1 and Niece #2. One of the complexities of living life after losing a loved one is feeling happy AND dealing with grief at the exact same time.

Christmas Eve day included the endearing smells and activities of preparing a holiday dinner:
- Fragrant cooked onions for Commuter Husband's family favorite dressing 
- Pumpkin pies prepared by Youngest Son and Niece #2 with my help
- Greenberg Turkey carved and plated by Brother
- Cranberries simmering with sugar and orange zest
- A table set with Christmas China and holiday napkins

Niece #1 and Niece #2 lit the new Advent Wreath candles and we shared a lovely Christmas Eve dinner. Then the kids opened one gift each as has been their tradition. 

We prepared for Santa next as Brother's family had done for many years. Niece #2 helped me make the sugar cookie dough and Niece #1 rolled it out between floured sheets of parchment paper. Both Nieces and Youngest Son used Christmas cookie cutters to create cookies for Santa. Niece #2 set out oats decorated with colorful sprinkles for the reindeer. And off to bed for Niece #2 so Santa could arrive!

The evening took some new turns as well. Brother, Commuter Husband and I organized gifts and wrapped those that went under the tree. Niece #1 (age 13) and Youngest Son (age 12) snuck downstairs to help us complete the preparations. And Elf on the Shelf was busy creating a hilarious scavenger hunt while Santa finished building a Green Machine. The whole crew finished by 2am or so - whew!

Christmas Day was spent in our holiday PJs opening gifts, playing board games and fierce competition in 42 (dominoes.) Nephew lit the Advent Wreath candles including the final special white candle. That evening we peeled off our comfy PJs and went to the movie, Into the Woods. 
Gift from Santa for Niece #2 - the purple Green Machine!
Playing Family Challenge while drinking hot chocolate
We were there at 1900 hours. I loved it but musicals are not a favorite for all.
It was about this time that family bonding took an unexpected turn. Nephew had been diagnosed with flu on Christmas Eve and Brother had not felt well either. Within 24 hours, five of us were running a fever and on Tamiflu. Only Niece #1 remained symptom free. Friday was spent sleeping, popping pills and watching television - oh my.

On Saturday, we managed to get to Louisville Sluggers Museum and Factory which was an interesting factory tour and we got free souvenir minibats! Commuter Husband's and Oldest Son's energy level faded quickly so they went back to Fort Knox afterwards. The rest of us played Laser Tag where Niece #2 and Youngest Son were victorious - SO fun! Back at the house, our last night was a late one playing spades and more 42 - not sure any of us wanted the week to end.
Arcade fun between Laser Tag games - Nieces and Brother.
Bats and smiles for all ... Well except Nephew who stayed home with sick girlfriend.
And now it is Sunday morning which brings me back to the complexity of this time. Throughout the week, I know that my late sister-in-law was constantly in my thoughts and there were tearful moments. Driving away, my heavy heart is back as I think of Brother's journey to lead his family to healing. I wish we lived next door or the same town or the same state. Thank G-d they will they will be moving permanently to Stephenville, TX next July.

My Brother is the bravest, strongest person I know. My heart beats with his every minute of every day.
Together Family Strong.


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