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Look at the Difference (Virginia Christmas 2016)

Look at the difference one year, two years, more years makes in what we find normal, comfortable, and the way that we choose to live our lives. A brief recap of our Virginia Christmas as well as some more general thoughts!

Don’t forget about the Hello Fresh giveaway! Linking up with Katie for Marvelous Monday.

If you have followed the blog for the past few years, you know that Thanksgiving is generally spent with my mom and brother and then Alex and I a trip during December to spend time with his family in Virginia for Christmas. Last year, that trip coincided with New Years, the year before, we went to Virginia for an entire week (split between time with his family and Charlottesville). 

This year was so similar to our other trips in so many ways: lots of great time hanging out with each member of the family, delicious food, quality conversations, complete comfort and familiarity, and the true meaning of family. 

Of course there were many traditions: the stockings stuffed with fun things, ornaments, and candy (they always give out chocolate!). A fun holiday dinner at home the first night (this time it was turkey with all the fixings, which you know that I loved) and leftovers for a meal the following. Getting out for a meal at a local family restaurant. SO MANY cans of Fresca. All the desserts. And, of course, gift giving and excitement and bewilderment (mostly by Alex’s dad, who received a Chromebook and may have held it upside down in befuddlement, lol). 

But this year was also a bit different, and the differences reminded me just how much life evolves, circumstances evolve, we evolve. And it also demonstrated to me that family takes so many forms.

This Year…

This year… I (and I think we all) took fewer pictures. There is a part of me that is a little sad about this–I wish that we had some more pictures of the group for posterity. But there is also something to be said about the fact that we were completely at ease, and no one felt the need for formalities and such. But that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t respect: we all put in some effort and didn’t look like complete hot messes!

This year… we didn’t turn on the TV (other than to watch Stranger Things, because Alex wanted to introduce it to his brother. They watched the entire thing). I don’t know if it was timing with the other years, but this year? Other than watching the (recorded) UVA basketball game, we didn’t watch TV. We didn’t need the distraction. Instead…

Our Nephew 2 years ago!

This year… we had so much fun with Tyson! The little guy is about 2.5 years old, and even from two weeks ago, when we saw them in Palmetto Bluff, he seems to have made a huge jump in his development. Like CRAZY. He is remembering us, feeling comfortable with us, and staring to vocalize and string little sentences together. He creates stories in his head for his duckies–he is starting to use imagination of his own! Seeing that development is so exciting.

This year… made me realize just how real the whole starting a family thing is, how much it will change our lives, and how much we (Alex and I) are really ready and just so excited for it to happen. Interestingly, and I don’t know if my being on birth control played a role in it…

Look at the difference a year (or even a few weeks) make! #happyholidays #sweatpink Click To Tweet

This year… I really really really really missed my fur children. Seeing our nephew with his parents, I craved the closest comparable relationship that I have to that: my relationship with Ridley. Past holidays, Alex and I have really missed Zoe, and we got a little bit of an itch to see the pup when we came back from our other trips. But this time, I REALLY missed Ridley, even after 24 hours. Total #mommoment.

My girl.

This year… Alex got all the running gear! I’m going to blow your minds, but I got no running presents! Remember how Alex’s family gave me almost exclusively running gifts a few years ago? Well, this year, Alex got all the running gifts to help prepare him for winter running. I got all the warm gifts (a new robe, gloves, thermos, fuzzy socks, just to name a few!) and puppy gifts (daycare hours for Ridley–which I asked for because it is the only way for her to play safely in this weather–and a toy for Ridley as well as a bag with RIDLEY’S FACE ON IT! This was waiting for us when we got home–I’ll get a photo up soon!). 

This year… we all made ourselves at home. Saturday, I took charge and set up the leftovers lunch so that Alex, his brother, and sister in law could watch Stranger Things. Alex and I borrowed a car and went to a local Anytime Fitness for a workout (also so I could do a little recon for my gym). Not to say that my brother in law and his wife weren’t hosting us, but we are all so comfortable around each other that we can take certain initiative and it is a-OK.

Speaking of, this year I could run! I could move around! IT WAS FABULOUS!

This year… I was reminded that I mean something to people back in Chicago while I was elsewhere. I got a text from my boss Friday night with something that really gave me the warm and fuzzies: he and the general manager had gotten a running shoe ornament for the gym tree to represent me. That tiny gesture meant so much to me. I’ve never felt valued like that at any of my previous jobs. It was a truly profound moment for me. 

This year… the future is certain, and uncertain, for all of us. Alex’s dad is retiring from medicine after 40 years of 60+ hour weeks and trying to figure out what comes next. Alex and I now know where we are living for the next few years, but we don’t know how our own immediate family will change over the next year. Who KNOWS what is going to happen to this country in the next year. 

All we know is that we live as best we can for today. You hug, laugh, get miffed, straighten things out, share, hide. You join the party and find time for yourself.

Differences bring us closer together + help us remember moments of our lives #holidays #christmas Click To Tweet

At the end of the day, you do you best to live, to look at but not focus on the differences, because those differences help you remember the moments of your life. And then you say Thank you to a world that is so uncertain for giving you something that you can always count on:


That got a bit deeper than I thought it would, but thank you for bearing with me!

And now we are back to Chiberia.

How do you navigate the holidays? Do you have more people around you at Thanksgiving (or another holiday) or at Christmas (or other holiday)?

Do you pick out the gifts that people give you, or do you see what they come up with?


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