Last weekend, we loaded up the super cool van and headed over to Branson, MO for a little family/Christmas-y vacation. We met up with my mom, sister and brother-in-law, and it was SUCH a special trip.
I'll show you why....
And off we go! The kiddos did great in the car, and stocking up on crafts from Target's $1 section didn't hurt either. ;) We sang Christmas songs, they napped, and we made it to our condo with time to spare. Thankful for safe travel.
We decided to try renting a small condo on this trip since we have two kiddos who need naps, plus we wanted my mom to stay with us. The condo setup proved to be a great plan, because we had a central hang out area for the whole family, and the girls were tucked away at the other end where they were able to nap in peace. The condo overlooked a golf course, and the girls were able to play a bit and burn off some energy. Cold, foggy morning on the golf course when I snapped the above pic. (Also, I have no idea why this picture is formatting strangely...can't fix it. Meh. Oh well.)
That night, we ventured to Silver Dollar City!!! This was the main purpose of our road trip, and it did NOT disappoint. Sure, it's hokey and filled with little kids and grandmas. But. At Christmas time, I LOVE IT. Just about every surface is covered in sparkling Christmas lights, and even the biggest Scrooge would have a hard time fighting off the Christmas spirit in this magical place. We watched a production "It's a Wonderful Life" during which Emery gasped and cheered with gusto.
That was my first Mary Moment. In Luke 2:19, the Bible says, "And Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart" as she watched her little baby being honored and loved by all those around him.
We've been to Silver Dollar City at Christmas four times now: once before kids were even a blip on the radar; once while pregnant with our first born; once when Emery was nine months old and too young to stay awake; and now this time. The girls (ages 2 1/2 and 15 months) were so aware of the beauty and enchantment around them, and they could hardly sit still they were so excited! To watch Emery and Delia gasp in awe of such simplicity was so humbling, and I found myself in tears many times during the trip. They are innocent and full of joy and wonder. They marveled at strings of Christmas lights. I never want to forget those gasps and squeals.
Priceless to me.
After the play, we wandered around looking at lights...and eating. Oh my, the food there is delish. Maybe it's because you eat outside in the crisp winter air. Maybe it's because the smells waft all around the park, enticing you to come and try. Maybe it's because of the holiday themed foods such as apple dumplins and hot cider and cocoa. Whatever the reason, we stuffed ourselves silly. :) Oh, and Delia found a giant chair and thought she was in heaven. :)
Next up was the Christmas parade! A few times each night, the crowds clear off of the main pathways throughout the park, and a holiday parade makes its way through. Christmas songs, Santa, reindeer, angels, snowmen and the nativity. So sweet. Emery was PUMPED!!!
My family. We are small in number, but we are mighty. Love them.
I can hardly look at this picture without crying. This was such a special moment for me, and my sister was quick enough to capture it on her phone. You see, if my mom is anywhere nearby, I might as well be invisible to Emery. She obeys and remains polite to me, but she could care less about Mommy if Nama is to be found. While I ABSOLUTELY love the relationship between those two, I usually find myself missing my first born daughter, even if she's right next to me playing with her Nama. Anyway, at one point later in the night, Emery was getting sleepy, and I asked if I could carry her for a bit. She acquiesced, and, after I scooped her up, she moved my hair and laid her head down on my shoulder. She stayed very still like that for about 20 minutes, and we strolled lazily together through the illuminated park as she whispered in my ear, "Look Mommy. Another twistmas twee. Look, a beautiful angel," all the while never lifting her head from my shoulder. "Oh Holy Night" was playing in the background, and I shed tears of happiness, fulfillment, and humility as I held my girl and walked and snuggled and whispered. What did I ever do to deserve these two little angel babies from God? Another Mary Moment, and one I will treasure up forever.
My sister. My Schmoo, a nickname we have for each other, and we don't really know how it got started. We live two hours away from each other, and I really miss her. She is truly my best friend in a way that only a sister who has walked the same happy yet hard roads as you can be, and I so enjoyed spending this vacation with her. So did Delia, Caitlin's sweet and sassy mini-me. :)
We spent the following day shopping at the outlet malls, eating together, opening a few Christmas presents, playing dress up, and just being TOGETHER. That was the best part of all. These are my people.
On the final night, my mom graciously sent the four of us out for a (much needed) date night together! We strolled the beautiful Branson Landing, ate massive amounts of BBQ, watched the fountain show while snacking on delicious cakes, laughed, laughed, laughed. At one point, I thought my sister and I might get booted out of a dressing room in one of the boutiques...we got a case of the giggles, and we couldn't make it stop!
At the close of the trip, we all decided it was way too short and that we'd stay an extra night or two next time.
That's how I know everyone had fun.
We didn't want to leave.
What about you? Any Mary Moments in your life recently or that you remember from the past? Does that term even make sense...!??! ;)