I don't know what happened to the time between Thanksgiving and January 1. Seriously, it just flew by, each day picking up more steam than the day before, and poof! They were all gone! It is crazy to me to realize that today is January 2. The weather here in Michigan sure doesn't reflect the calendar. The last couple of days have been absolutely gorgeous! Temperatures in the 40's with miles of blue skies and bright, gorgeous rays of sunshine that warms and refreshes your spirit.
We had some great times the past month and a half, and some not so great times. Rather than stir up some "issues", I'm choosing to focus on the positive. One of the best things that I got to do was spend a little time visiting two very dear, elderly cousins on my dad's side. My cousin Jody (she's a year older than me, and more like a sister. We grew up next door to each other), and I met for lunch one day and then went visiting.
My face literally felt stretched into a permanent smile after that visit! Leona is my Dad's cousin, she will be 95 in April. She looks and acts like 75. She is amazing! Everyone calls her the energizer bunny! Sharp as a tack mentally and physically better than a lot of people half her age!
Her sister Bernice is in her mid to late 80's, and Leona is her caretaker. They have been great companions for each other since Bernice's husband passed. No matter how much time goes by between visits, they are always happy to see you, always eager to hear what you've been up to and eager to share a meal or snack with you.
I grew up in a house next door to her as well. Our four families had 4 houses, all on about an acre each when I was a kid. My Grandma was on the southeast side, then in the middle was another family, on the northeast side her sister, husband and daughter. Directly behind them was our house and to the south of us was my uncle, aunt and 4 cousins.
For the most part, it was a great place to grow up. I didn't realize until I was an adult how special those days really were. I got to see my cousins, aunt, uncle, grandma, great aunt, great uncle and 2nd cousin every day!! I got to make cookies with my grandma. I got to play Canasta with my grandma and 2nd cousin. I got to play outside from morning til dusk with my cousins and tons of neighbor kids. We played so many games of pickle, softball and 500...those were the days!
The old neighborhood isn't the same, some houses got taken down to make room for a by-pass road, and all the old families have pretty much moved on, but just walking through the door of Leona and Bernice's house was like walking through a time machine...everything went back to when I was a kid. Sure, we all were older, but the love of family, and connection we have from doing life together was and is priceless to me.
We had a great time catching up, and I was even able to get some recipes that their mom and my grandma used to make all the time. Leona even shared some Christmas cookies that she made from one of their recipes! She's incredible-I wish you could meet her!
We had another extended family get-together the weekend before Christmas, with all of my dad's brothers and their families. Some of my cousins couldn't make the trip from Chicago and Texas, but everyone else was there. We do a potluck meal and we always have way more than enough and the food is amazing! My family sure can cook!
Christmas was pretty quiet at my house. It was just us, our boys, our soon to be daughter-in-law, and my parents. Trying to get everyone together on the same days is getting tough! I'm so thankful we were able to do it again this year. We even got to spend a few hours hanging out with Mr's sister and brother-in-law on New Year's Eve.
The house seems so quiet now without all of the hustle and bustle. Even the little poopers are back to normal after their surgeries, and they are rather subdued. They are loving the great weather too. Maybe it is just the calm before the storm, because starting next week, our regular hectic schedule starts back up again. One thing will be different this year though, I'll be making very serious effort to slow down and spend more time with my extended family. Tomorrow isn't promised to any of us, so I want to make the most out of the time I have to be around those I love and who love me.
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