Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Very Merry Arizona to Maryland Christmas

I decided not to keep sending little updates from my phone because I was taking so many photos with my camera. Then for most of the rest of the week, my only internet access was through my phone, so I took a break from blogging. Overall, it was a glorious trip and I'm glad we went. There were a few downsides, which I'll get out of the way first.
  • We were not all together and the whole reason for that was because of wrestling, and most of that was canceled due to the snow.
  • I had some lingering work knitting to do that was taking forever, so until the 23rd, I was furiously knitting everytime I sat down and felt like I missed out on some things. 
  • I didn't take my kids' gifts with and it was hard on them, especially Evan, to watch everyone else go through the Christmas getting part with only one gift from my parents to open. 
Fortunately, there were many, many more ups than downs and we had such a great time. We didn't do anything super exciting, but oh how I love Arizona. I am not from there, but it has become one of the places other than here where I feel most at home. My parents and I are the only members of our family that haven't lived there for at least some time of their lives. That will change next year as my folks will most likely move out there for retirement and only I'll be left out here. My grandma and aunts moved there when I was small, so I've been visiting since I was very young.  I love the landscape, the color of the air (except for the smog over Phoenix-I can do without that), the views, even the heat and the dry rivers. I love that it is so varied in elevation and ecosystems-pine forests and high mountains in the north and cacti and weird, fantastic plants and vistas in the south. When we go, a lot of the time is spent just being with family, so there are lots of things I haven't seen in Arizona, but I'll get there eventually.  We've tried to move there several times, but it has not been the right place to be. For now I'll be content to visit whenever I can. Here are some of the great things about the trip along with a few favorite photos.
  •  My oldest boy was there. That was really fun. It should go in the downside that he did not come home with us, but on the other hand, it is really cool to see him living his own life and making his own decisions (and spending his own money, might I add). We'll see him soon out here. IMG_1588
  • I got to spend a lot of time with family. My folks plus 4 of the 8 siblings were there, and I feel like I got at least a little quality time with my sister and two brothers. They are all married to amazing people, so I was twice blessed by getting to see my brother and sisters-in-law.  I also got to briefly see my Grandma and two beloved Aunts.
  • I have a new niece and nephew born this past year and I got to see them both, one for the first time. 
  • We got to ride the Polar Express.IMG_1583 IMG_1622 This is a ride to the North Pole provided by the Grand Canyon Railway and in spite of a few glitches, it was well worth it to be there with my folks, two of my sibs and their kids.  This is my nephew receiving his bell, the first gift of Christmas. He can hear it ring.
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  • We went to this awesome little roadside attraction called the Grand Canyon Deer Farm. It was very fun. There are areas where smallish deer called Fallow Deer just walk around you and ocassionally try to eat your coat or anything else. IMG_1532 IMG_1568 There were other animals as well so we got to see Elk, Bison, Caribou, and even a Camel who really wanted its picture taken.
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  • We were going to go to the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix for their Las Noches de las Luminarias but there was a storm that day and it rained, so the Luminarias were canceled. Instead, we gathered at my brother's house and had a lovely game night and I got to visit with my Grandma and Aunt. 
  • We got to be with my sister and her family for their own personal Christmas Eve. All the traditions were in place, from decorating cookies to that gasp of a little boy in the morning upon seeing his first bicycle. It was gorgeous. 
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  • We all gathered again for Christmas Eve and it was such fun to be together. We ate and laughed and opend presents and played with the little ones. 
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  • My kids were the best-ever older cousins. They played with and loved their little cousins in a most heartwarming way. It was so tender to watch them with these wee ones. 
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  • While waiting in the airport to fly home, we got to talk to my son in Chile. It is one of the two times a year that we get to hear his voice and get a sense of how he has grown and changed while serving his mission. It was a wonderful thing. Amazingly, we were able to conference together a conversation that spanned 3 times zones and 2 continents, and had 9 people in 4 different places all talking simultaneously. 
  • Our flight home on Christmas day was not delayed or canceled because it only rained here and we were greeted at home by my husband's heroic success at getting our Christmas completely put together. He wrapped gifts, cleaned the house, set a beautiful table and really made the magic for us as we walked in the door on Christmas night. In spite of waiting till the end of the day, we had a perfect time together.
So there it is. A different kind of holiday for our family as far as traditions and familiarity go, but full of happy memories, warmth and love. I guess those are the things that make the traditions hold together so if they are present, then the feeling can be the same no matter what.

7 comments:

  1. This certainly sounds like a whole lot of warmth and love was shared! Amazing stats on the conference call, too! Merry Christmas to you and yours, Kellie!

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  2. Sorry for those downsides, but it sounds like you guys had a great trip overall! Your Christmas night did sound especially wonderful - yay for your hubby! Merry Christmas!!

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  3. Aw, wonderful! I did feel sad for Even there, but he'll recover. :-) Your kids are so great.... I so wish mine will turn out like that!

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  4. What a fun time. I loved the pictures. I am glad you had a fun and safe trip.

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  5. sounds like a wonderful Christmas! Love all the pictures, particularly the ones of the cousins :D

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  6. Lovely! Love the candid beautiful shots. You had quite the Christmas!

    I guess for some reason your blog hasn't been updating on my bloglines. Sorry if I've been ignoring!

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  7. that is amazing! i'm so glad you got to spend all that time with your family and i love the Polar Express! How fun is that?!

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Thank you for sharing your insights!