It has taken me forever to write this post, mainly because we had many things going on after Christmas. This Christmas was beautiful and joyful, but also our first Christmas without David here. His unit was deployed overseas at the end of October, just before Missy's wedding. This was also Missy and Eric's first Christmas as a married couple. Merry Christmas to Mr. and Mrs. Eric Burns! I was blessed to have Christmas Eve and December 30 off, even though we're not supposed to ask for days off during the holidays, and I got a very early shift the day after Christmas. We did all the traditional things.... the cantata on December 11, Erin's concert on December 16, and Janet's concert at Manchester Community College on December 17. Right after Thanksgiving I began my usual baking, with extra thrown in for the cantata and Erin's concert. And then, of course, shopping, done between work, church, concerts, baking, cleaning, and getting everyone where they needed to go! We had no Wednesday church service that week because of Christmas Eve service on Saturday, and Dave, Becca, and Noelle arrived Friday evening just in time for dinner. I woke up early on Christmas Eve, as usual, and Becca and Noelle were not far behind. I needed to run to Stop and Shop, so they decided to go with me. We had waffles for breakfast, and then I went with Becca and Noelle so Caroline could cut Becca's hair at her salon. She brought Noelle so Caroline could show her off. While Caroline cut Becca's hair, Noelle and I walked down the sidewalk to the pet store. She loves animals and we enjoyed seeing the birds, hamsters, and fish. Then a customer walked in with her dog and Noelle got so excited! She LOVES dogs. We went home and had lunch, and soon it was time to go to the Christmas Eve service. I love our Christmas Eve service and reflecting on the most precious gift of all, the gift of God's Son, Jesus, to be the sacrifice for our sins. After the service, we went to Glen and Lisa's house to celebrate with them, It's a long-standing tradition to have Christmas Eve with Al's family, and it is always a great time. Glen's house can be chilly, as it is so big, so Al and I were sitting on the couch with a blanket over us. Noelle was between us, and she reached up to me, ran her hands over my face, and said, "You're beautiful!" What a precious gift that was! Glen had lobsters for everyone, as well as two GIANT lobsters. Noelle was fascinated with the giant lobsters, and worked up the courage to touch them. When Glen cracked them open so we could eat them, she became quite concerned. "The lobsters are broken! " she said. We told her they were supposed to be broken. We got to see a video of David's unit wishing their families a Merry Christmas, and Becca and Dave made one of us wishing David a Merry Christmas. Guess what Noelle said to her Uncle David? "The lobsters are broken." The videos were on Facebook, so we could see his and he could see ours. We got home late, about 1: 00 am, and everyone went to bed but me.... I had to fill the stockings. I got to bed at about 2 am and woke up around 7 am to get ready for church. We opened our stockings before getting ready for church, then got dressed and went to the service. Missy and Eric, and Gail and John, met us at home at around 1:00. I put the turkey in the oven . put out some snacks, and we opened gifts. Two of our friends from church joined us for dinner. Oh, yes, I forgot, Missy and Eric ran late because they had to visit a friend in the hospital. But we got the presents opened in time for dinner, and we had a nice time with our friends and family. Somehow everyone managed to include stickers in Noelle's gifts, which sort of drove Becca and Dave crazy, because Noelle likes to put stickers on people as well as on paper! After dessert and after our friends left and Noelle went to bed, I reluctantly went to bed as well, because I had to work at 5 am. I always hate to go to bed on Christmas night, because I do not want to end the day, Dave and Becca and Noelle met me on my lunch break the next day and took me to Friendly's. I got out at 1pm, and came home. I put on my new pajamas that Caroline had given me and my new bathrobe that Al had given me, intending to take a nap and then spend the rest of the day in my PJ's. That, however, was short-lived, because Dave and Becca and Noelle returned from shopping and Noelle decided to climb on me. There's no resisting that! Also Noelle wanted a sandwich so I made her one. Just as Dave, Becca, and Noelle were leaving, Al decided to call the doctor about what we thought was either a toothache or a sinus infection,for which he had gotten antibiotics he night befre, but the medicine was not helping. He had to go to the emergency room, so I got dressed and took him. Well, we sat there for eight hours before anyone saw him, but he got stronger antibiotics and a pain medication, and by the next day it was better. On December 30 we went to my sister Betsy's to celebrate Christmas with my dad and sisters, another long-standing tradition! My dad is always so pleased to have his whole family together, and we always have a nice time with them. My nieces and nephews are growing up and it is fun to catch up with them. New Year's would bring Erin's Hartford Musical Club competition, her Fine Arts competition, the school play, and of course, decisions about college and her graduation. It would also bring David's return from overseas, and the end of his enlistment in the Marines. We're trusting the Lord for the road ahead for all of us.