Today is Christmas Eve. We have been at the Cahill's log cabin rental house that overlooks dale hallow lake in Byrdstown, TN since Saturday afternoon. The trees are bare so from the top of the hill we can see through the forrest to the glimmering water below. Unfortunately, most of the family has spent their time holed up in their own room with the nastiest fastest spreading stomach bug I've ever seen. Luckily Felix and I got it out of our system before coming here for christmas (one night of puking - saddest thing ever - one day of diarrhea and no eating, then one day of snuggling and recovery )so Rebecca and I spent the day away from the house with the dual hope of finishing up our Holiday shopping and avoiding catching the bug.
Cookeville is the closest town to their house and it's an hour drive without holiday traffic. I kept hoping Felix would nap on the way into town, but instead he fell asleep 5 minutes from our destination. So Becca stayed in the car with him while I picked up stocking stuffers and few last minute gifts. We grabbed chick-fil-a for lunch and then headed back to the house after one final stop for Rebecca to get a gift for Teddy.
The evening was low key. Cynthia whipped up a delicious beef stew and biscuits while we played with the children and read books in the living room. Most everyone went to bed early and we woke this morning to Emily and Gabriel's arrival and a big pan of bacon and eggs, bottomless pots of coffee and the sound of tromping kiddo feet in footie pajamas.
The house finally feels festive, fun and full of life. The only missing puzzle piece is my love. Josh, who is sick, had to go back to Franklin for a few days of work and some rest and healing from his bug.
I've been so excited about Felix's first christmas. I really had to restrain myself from buying too many unnecessary presents. I ended up buying a set of cars you can pull back and they move forward, a set of big lego blocks, a few wiffle balls (easy for his little fingers to grab), a hammer bench, and a book. Plus a few shirts and christmas PJs for his growing body.
We let him open the hammer bench before we left for Byrdstown and it was so much fun to watch him learn how to tear the paper and then discover a new present. He turned the bench over and over and picked at the sticker on the side. Then I showed him how to use the hammer and he caught on so quickly - I was bursting with pride. He really is smart as a whip, a quick learner, and very coordinated. I know he will do great things far above what I could even imagine for him.
He has been LOVING spending time with family here at the cabin. He explores the house finding new things to pick up and discover and begs for food from anyone snacking on chex mix. He constantly brings books to Nana for page turning practice and just laughs and laughs at the dogs wrestling together. He has particularly grown in the area of other people holding him. He used to cry anytime Uncle John Paul would look at him and now he loves to lay in his lap and inspect new people's face. Some will even get the coveted head-hug of affection from him and it's completely heart melting.
Next year when Felix will be almost two I want to start a few family traditions that we continue to do every holiday season. A christmas advent activity calendar that includes reading the story of the incarnation in the gospel of Luke, watching white christmas, Elf, and Miracle on 34th street, setting out milk and cookies for santa on Christmas eve, caroling, fudge making, driving around to look at christmas lights, making hot cocoa, taking winter walks and on and on.
So for now, I'm going to snuggle up next to the fire and enjoy time with my extended family. Merry Christmas and warm wishes to you and yours this holiday season and many blessing in the new year!