Two years ago, I made the bold statement that every kid needed to be home at Christmas–no matter what. That year, we had made our final military move from Germany back to the states, finding a nice little cottage in Pinehurst, North Carolina to call home for awhile. Our kids were getting older, Lindsey was about ready to graduate from college and Lauren had just begun the journey. It seemed imminent that if I didn’t take a stand for family unity and togetherness, they’d be cast to the four winds and come home at ragtag moments, missing each other by days, sending texts featuring holiday-themed emojis.
Last week the house was abuzz with the four kids talking over each other, comparing notes on school, work and play. Lindsey has exotic stories about life in the nation’s capitol…a little bit of celebrity to our otherwise droll lives. Lauren keeps us a little off balance playing rule keeper for the younger kids as well as fun-loving prankster. Will lives with a classic sunny disposition believing that every day is a very good day when he knows there’s a plan for our meals. And Lilly, being the youngest and just shy of 13, revels in the attention her sisters shower on her.
Military families learn early to “plan the work and work the plan.” Coming from bitterly cold DC, Lindsey had a few requests: sun, beach, mountains, snow and family time with the relatives. We took the kids to Torrey Pines Preserve for a hike to the beach. It was a sunny, warm hike with few people on the trail and the tide was out giving us a chance to climb the rocks and look for sea anemones. On the way home, Tim kept saying he wanted to eat lunch at a “walk up place.” We weren’t quite sure what he was looking for but then Roberto’s Mexican Restaurant right on Hwy 101 in Solana Beach grabbed out attention. It was the perfect way to complete our beach day.
A few days before Christmas we headed to Big Bear Lake, about a 2 hour drive from our home into the San Bernardino Mountains. For many years, we’ve rented the same cabin with my parents. Most years, we haven’t had significant snow but this year we hit the motherlode. We were giddy with excitement as predictions for a major snow storm hit the airwaves. By the looks of the area, it had been quite some time since snow had fallen and even the sky resort looked desolate and tired. Day 1 was relatively dry and we stayed indoors reading, knitting, and napping. Day 2 gave us huge grey snow clouds and lots of wind and by late evening the snow began. When we woke up the next morning we had received a foot of snow! Later that morning, as Tim and my dad put chains on the cars, the kids got sleds out of the garage and trekked uphill to make a sled run.
Since it was Christmas Eve, my parents decided to leave later that day to make it home in time for church services but we remained behind, cuddling up in the toasty cabin, watching movies and drinking hot cocoa. As dinnertime neared, we bundled up and walked the short distance to Thelma’s Restaurant, a favorite diner, which was featuring prime rib for Christmas Eve dinner. Lindsey and I split the special while the others dug into half-pound burgers with all the trimmings. The couple next to us had a husky dog resting at their feet making our visit that much better. It’s quite likely this year will be one of the most memorable for years to come.