We drove up to Austin to share Christmas with Kim's family. With Kim's brother coming up from Texas and us coming from IL, this was the first Christmas Kim's folks had all the kids together since Kim's sister Pam passed almost two years ago. Needless to say a very important time for the family. The drive up was uneventful until we got off the highway into Austin. The amount of snow on the ground was staggering. I now know why the Dome collapsed. Plow drifts of 6 feet+ covered the entire city. Here's a shot of a car from Paul & Carole's sidewalk.
Not much to do with Christmas but the snow sure was impressive.
Everyone was so excited to see each other. Paul broke out some shrimp cocktail and the party began. So many people to talk to it was hard to know where to begin. I guess the biggest deal was that Kim's brother Eric brought a very sweet girl named Sarah up from TX.
She fit in just fine and I don't think we scared her too bad. Carole crushed the tip of her finger in the kitchen and Sarah stepped in with an extra pair of hands to help with all the food prep. The front door opens and in walks our nephew Derek, fresh from Afghanistan in a crisp Marine uniform. The young kid has already made it through an IED incident and we sure were glad to be able to have him around for a few days.
Some presents and then time for midnight Mass. We took up an entire pew and still had one left over. The choir presented about a half an hour of music before the service started and you sure could tell how hard they worked to get ready for it...well done. Back home for a few more laughs and one by one, people started heading off to bed.
Christmas morning comes and slowly the house came to life. The first thing I noticed was the smell of fresh coffee. There's something about that smell that evokes a sense of peace and calm, a nice way to start the morning. Surrounded by family, food and laughs is one heck of a way to spend a holiday.
Kim's mom sets a beautiful table and with so many of us this year we had to move the furniture to make room for all the tables. What a fantastic problem to have.
Kim's dad kept disappearing to lovingly baste the ham that he's pretty dang famous for. The smell of everything coming out Carole's kitchen was planting the seeds of desire to overindulge. The time came for Paul to carve the ham. I sensed he needed some help so I quietly followed Kim's brother Eric and Paul to the sacred shrine of pork to carve that bad boy. The gleam in Paul's eye was almost blinding as he carved a small sample for both Eric and myself...with approving nods and grunts the ham was carved and we all took our places at the table. All the effort put in to this meal did not go unnoticed,
I can't imagine a better compliment for Carole and Paul than to have the whole family that can't seem to shut up at all, quietly cramming all the deliciousness we can muster into our faces. Well done folks...well done.
One devious thing Sarah helped Eric and I do was pick out a house of ill repute...huh?
Kim's mom has an amazing Dickens Christmas village collection.
She spends hours setting it up for us all to enjoy and we really do. On a run to the store we found a super cheap house with a gleaming red light to add to her city. I figured she wouldn't notice it until she was putting it away for the season. She sat on the couch and glanced over to the village, it took all of 15 seconds or so before she exclaimed "What is THAT?" I tell ya, the woman knows her village.
With the dishes done, the stories told and the memories shared, once again, we all slowly drifted off to bed.
The next day with a few tears shed we made our way back to Illinois to mark Christmas 2010 as one of the best we've had.