Jenny and I just returned from a good ’ole fashioned northern excursion. One of the bittersweet characteristics of a society with increasing mobility is the amount of travel required to visit family. This year, we booked three one-way flights to make the loop from Memphis to Kalamazoo to Minnesota and back. I just wanted to jot down some quick highlights of our holiday travel.
Our red eye got us to our hotel in Grand Rapids in time to celebrate with my cousin Lissie in her wedding celebration the next day. It was a beautiful ceremony and provided an opportunity to catch up with the extended Barrett family and even some old friends. Lissie’s sister Laura delivered an excellent maid of honor speech; and Uncle Jerry, father of the bride and the writer of the family, read a beautiful letter through laughs and tears to the new couple at the reception. It has been his writing, in part, that has encouraged me to reboot the blog to practice my little-used skill of writing more.
We stayed with my grandparents and their giant golden doodle for a few days in the Kalamazoo area after the wedding. A nostalgic visit to the Sunday service at our old church in Kalamazoo allowed us to reconnect briefly with some old friends. Much to my grandmother’s chagrin, I used Google Maps as an excuse to get my fill of icy Michigan backroad driving on the way to Sunday dinner. We enjoyed a great family meal with mom’s side of the family at the infamous Big T in Lawton. On Monday, Jenny and Grandma got their nails done while I roamed the mall conveniently passing by the Auntie Anne’s sample tray a few times. That evening we reconnected with Steve, a good friend from high school. As we continue to ponder what our family might look like in the future, it was great to absorb his true testimony of the first year with their baby. Before heading back to the airport Tuesday evening, we made the obligatory dinner stop at Bell’s Brewery whose menu is even better than I remembered it.
Due to Storm Goliath delaying our return, we had a full week with my dad and step-family in Minnesota. After making sure we saw Star Wars our first night in town, we also played a lot of “Settlers of Catan” (of which I won three out of our six games), Risk, and Catch Phrase. We also watched Elf (of course), Monster’s Inc., Gilligan’s Island, and the Vikings game. Jenny and my step-sister got in a lot of sweet (pun intended) baking time together, and they even squeezed in some snow angels. A family decision left the stockings empty this year, contributing money instead to the red kettle to help others in need. We got to visit my family’s new church for the first time for both the Christmas Eve and Sunday Service. On Sunday, the preacher applied the description of the maturing of Jesus in Luke 2:52 to the new year by challenging us to set intellectual, physical, spiritual, and social goals.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
— Luke 2:52
Because of our multi-day delay, we spent our last night in Minnesota with my aunt and uncle in St. Paul. In the spare bedroom, we slept under two very special quilts. The cat quilt was one Aunt Barb had made for Grandma and had received it back when she passed. The zebra-patterned quilt was made by my mom and brought back many happy memories of her in her quilting/crafting room. Christmas looks very different than it did five years ago, but the Christ of Christmas remains the same. I am very thankful to have been able to enjoy this holiday travel by spending time with family and getting a fresh start for the year.