Monday, December 31, 2018

A case of an expanding heart

It's nearly dark out; the wind is howling and the rain is banging against the metal roof of our study. Ed and I are home alone on this last night of year. (Just where we want to be.) I spent part of the day wandering around the house, packing up our very few Christmas decorations and reflecting on the season.

It was a happy one at Farm Dover. Our three grown children were all home for Christmas, with significant others, dog, and baby in tow. Jack traveled here from Berlin (we missed Kasia this year); Mary, Brian and Saltie made the trip by car from Brooklyn; and Maggie and Nate packed presents, diapers, DockaTot, multiple changes of outfits, and Baby Hazel to come here after celebrating with Nate's family in Northern Kentucky. I recognize that this is no easy task. Ed and I are grateful.

There is nothing I like more than being surrounded by my beloveds. It's funny how one's heart can expand to fully love another individual or creature that comes into your life. Like the Grinch, my heart seems to have grown three sizes. And like in the Grinch, there was plenty of noise, feasts and singing to be found in our home.

The week before Christmas, nieces Belle and Sara came to help me crank out the last big batch of spicy cheese straws. And their sisters Molly and Katie came back with Sara and her boyfriend, Ashton, for Christmas cheeseburgers (Mary's favorite), homemade peppermint ice cream, and some serious puzzle working. These girls bring joy wherever they go.

Among our most treasured holiday traditions is digging into the heavy bag of perfectly made cookies by friend Patrice. Mary and I managed to sample some for breakfast the very day we got them. 


Joyce (age 90), our friend from Simpsonville Christian Church, baked Ed a coconut cream pie, which he graciously shared with us after a welcome-home dinner for Mary, Brian and Saltie on the 23rd. 

And of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without bread pudding and Ree's mincemeat cookies...

But Hazel and Saltie stole the show. We couldn't get enough of them. 

They even had matching hats, as both wanted to be one of Santa's reindeer.

Not only did our little family grow this year, but the Carpenter side added two babies in addition to Hazel: Charlie (May 23) and Gabriella (August 18), and one more is expected in February. On Christmas Day, we gathered at my sister Julie's house. My Dad, his four girls and their husbands, his 11 grandchildren, and his 5 great grandchildren were all together in celebration and gratitude. 

But the season is nearly over. Mary, Brian and Saltie are safely back in Brooklyn. The 2018 tree is planted in the side field. The cookies are all gone. But the memories, I'd like to hang on to forever...

Merry Christmas to you and yours. May 2019 bring health, happiness and an expanded heart.