Christmas Eve morning, we drove down to my parents' house. The weather was horrible-pouring rain with high winds the entire trip, making I-65 a nightmare. I was so glad when we finally made it, and my mother (who kept calling to check on us-good thing I wasn't the one driving!) was even more relieved. We made one stop at Opry Mills Mall, just to wander around for a little while. We were finished with our shopping, but we love to shop for a little while on Christmas Eve. We walked around, ate sugared pecans, and enjoyed the festive atmosphere.
We arrived at my parents' house around noon, and I helped Mom finish the preparations for the Christmas Eve dinner. The menu included many of my favorites including prime rib, green beans, and hash brown casserole. And of course, Mom's best desserts-Toll House pie, Hershey's Chocolate Cake, coconut cake, and an assortment of fudge and cookies. We had a pretty big crowd for dinner that included Mom, Dad, my brother, sister-in-law, niece, aunt and uncle, along with Mr. P and me. My brother is a policeman, and he was on duty Christmas Eve night, but he was able to stop by the house for dinner, and some of his fellow officers also stopped by throughout the night when they were on their dinner break. Mom and Dad have extended this invitation to all of my brother's fellow officers every year since he has been on the force, and it is great to see some of the same guys year after year. Luckily, the citizens were well-behaved and all of the officers were able to finish their meals before getting a call.
Mr. P and I attended the most beautiful church service on Christmas Eve night at a church near my parents' house. This has been a year of change for us with regards to religion, and I have had my moments of doubt about some decisions we have made. Long story short, I was raised Catholic, and had never really fallen away from attending Mass, except for when I was in college. Mr. P was raised Methodist, but began attending Mass with me after we had been married a couple of years, and became a Catholic about 6 years ago. We dutifully attended Mass every Sunday, but in the past couple of years have really struggled with our church and the way things are done, particularly the way people who were not born and raised in that church are treated. Around Easter of this year, we decided to try going to the Methodist church that Mr. P grew up in, and which many of our friends attend. It is such a welcoming church, and we have been very happy there. I feel that Mr. P and I have grown closer to each other spiritually, and I feel that I have grown closer in my relationship to God. Not to mention the tremendous amount of support that we received when Mr. P's dad was sick-so many prayers, visits, phone calls, and food. We were truly touched by everything that people did for us, and although I have tried not to be judgemental or critical of our former church, I know we would not have received the same support. Despite all that, I have struggled to be at peace with my decision to not attend a Catholic church right now-it's just hard to make such a big change after 38 years. Mr. P and I have talked about it, and he has been wonderful in helping me work through this. You're probably sitting there wondering how I went from Christmas festivities to a heavy religion post, but it comes back to the Christmas Eve service we attended. It was an absolutely beautiful candlelight service that truly touched my heart, giving me that much-needed sense of peace that I was doing the right thing.
Sorry this post took a serious turn-it was a little unexpected for me too! Okay, back to the Christmas festivities...
We spent Christmas Eve night at my parents' house, and exchanged Christmas presents on Christmas morning with my family. It was great to just kick back and enjoy each other and have fun opening our gifts. We followed that up with our annual Christmas breakfast, with more of our favorite dishes from Mom-egg casserole, cheese grits, sausage balls, and more.
After breakfast, Mr. P and I drove back home, where we took a few minutes to exchange our gifts to each other. We kept our gifts to each other fairly simple this year, but we had fun exchanging them. We've had years where both of us went overboard on gifts for each other, but I think I enjoyed this year more. Mr. P got me some really thoughtful gifts, but I'll post pics and details in another post.
Christmas with Mr. P's family was also a lot of fun. His sister has four kids, ages 10, 8, 5, and 3, so it was considerably louder than my family's celebration, but it was a lot of fun. Here is a picture of Mr. P and the kids playing Santa: