Gloria in Excelsis Deo

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. 
We have seen his glory, 
the glory of the one and only Son, 
who came from the Father, 
full of grace and truth. 
John 1:14
The Nativity of our Lord, Christmas Day
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We made it!

I am sitting on a couch with King Henry VII*, drinking coffee my dad made, watching cable TV and enjoying the sites, sounds and smells of my parents’ East Texas home at Christmas. 
THERE IS NO BETTER PLACE IN THE WORLD.
We made it last night after a boring 12-hour drive from Tallahassee. We brought Olive and Toad, and they did well except for Liv being absolutely inconsolable unless she is perched between your neck and the car headrest. That wasn’t happening for me, and we had a battle of wills until she relinquished and burrowed under my North Face jacket in the back seat. It was really cute, actually.
Today I have to wrap all of my family’s gifts and perhaps get one final gift for this girl. And keep Liv and my sister’s cat, Mildred, from killing each other. 
I successfully placed 12th in 4/5 MarioKart games last night against Aaron, Jillian and Hayden, but I think I impressed them all when I got fifth place at one track. I even beat Jillian. I think A-Rod and Haydo placed first and second or second and first on every track they played. Boys.
I’m going to be using my sister’s fancy camera today to work on Christmas bokeh shots. My dad had the ultimate Grinch move this Christmas and FORGOT TO TAKE OUT OF THE ATTIC OUR SANTA AND SLEIGH and put it in the yard. What the heck, Dad?! The self-proclaimed King of Christmas landscaping forgot to take out THE essential yard decoration; it was the first thing I noticed when we pulled in the yard last night. It may have been the first thing I said to him after hugging him and saying hello. He promised to fix this egregious error this morning, thankfully. I’m also having lunch with my oldest friend Chels today, who lives in Florida, too, but whom I’ve never seen at her Florida home. It’s funny how that happens; we grew up together from age three, and then we ended up in the same state together while Chelsea and Aaron both work on their graduate degrees. 
ANYWAY.
You might want an explanation about King Henry VII and the menagerie.
*This is King Henry VII, fondly known as Henny Penny, BFP (Big Fat Penny), Pigpen or Hen Pen. He’s eight years old and the most fantastic feline to ever grace the planet. You could poke him with hot irons and he’d roll over and start purring. Which is good, considering Jillian and I used to wrap up our kittens in our great grandmother’s quilts and push them around in doll strollers for hours on end. Please don’t do the math… I wasn’t necessarily doing this at age 14. Anyway, he takes great joy in distracting you from any task you may be doing if you are relaxing on the couch. For instance, as I write this, he is trying to sit in my lap and pounding his big fat head into the screen of Jillian’s laptop. So charming. 
Here are the other two animal players in the Anderson family troupe: Gus, the german shepherd, and Mildred, the fickle feline. 
Gustav aka Gus aka the Goose, will be two years old tomorrow! We count his birthday as his adoption day, which was Christmas 2008, although the breeder said he was born on Halloween. His original name was Green, because the breeder identified each pup by the color ribbon tied around his or her neck. Sweet little Green.
Gus and I have a sordid history. He is a huge dog, and for the first year and a half of his life, the Goose did nothing but cause trouble. In the last few months, though, Gus has turned his act around and began to mature. Color me impressed. 
The little white furball under the kitchen stool is Mildred. Millie is my sister’s cat, a gift from my parents her senior year of high school. She has an attitude and does not like to be petted. Until, apparently, my sister, came home from college two weeks ago and now Mildred is as sweet as BFP. I tested it last night, and she has become a new animal as well.
So anyway, that’s the pet situation at the Anderson’s. And here’s a picture that would have been cute.
Womp womp.

Homes for the Holidays

I can’t wait to go home for Christmas.
And by home, I mean my parents’ house in Texas.
But I’m a little apprehensive to be leaving home this Christmas.
And by home, I mean our first home, our home in Tallahassee, the place Aaron and I have made our own, apart from our families.
It’s a weird feeling. I never expected that I would grow up, get married and feel like my childhood home was no longer my home. I still feel like that is home, and I don’t think there’s any place I’d rather be on Christmas eve.
But then we got married a year ago, and we moved to this apartment in February, and I’ve spent the last ten months making this place our home. It must have worked, because I get a little sad to think we are leaving for the holidays. I think about how much fun I had decorating and incorporating old and well-loved things passed on to me by my grandmothers and my aunts and my mom into our Christmas house, and how I love the few things I purchased on my own to begin my own collections that I may one day, God willing, pass down to my daughters, nieces, and granddaughters. I think about our Christmas tree sitting alone, and the garland drying out, and the dark house on Christmas eve. And I get sad about it.
And then I think about why I am ambivalent about where to call home this holiday season.
Because I have been blessed with so much.
And it’s not in one place in Florida, Texas or Nebraska.
And I have to remember that home is carried in my heart wherever I go.