I met up with my children's jr. high counselor at Wal-Mart a couple of days before Christmas. He's a young father and was herding
In The Polar Express, Santa announces that the first gift of Christmas will be chosen by the protagonist. He chooses Santa's bell. It's a sweet sentiment and embodies childhood. At our house, 13 year old Jacob handed 8 year old Jaxon the first gift of Christmas. Jaxon tore it open with gusto and, before we could all see what it contained, he yelled, "Great! A Jacob Wacker!" It was a big Nerf gun but his response is the true embodiment of childhood.
The kids also got a lesson on compound interest as I presented our oldest daughter with a statement from an investment company. I invested a little bit of money when when she was a babe in my arms (literally, I was holding her while I was filling out the paperwork). The intent was that it was for college. My parents then opened a 529 plan for all of the grandchildren which grew to equal the matured investment I made plus Alyssa got scholarships. I still wanted to use the money for college since scholarships and the 529 is nearly depleted after her first year but I decided to relinquish it for her choosing. She is bound and determined to serve the Lord and go on an LDS mission. The cost for preparation; clothes, books, and whatnot is a mystery but the cost of the 18 months she will be out in the mission field is $7,400. The account is currently only $300 short of that.
Sleds were included under the tree and Scott promptly took them to well known sledding hill. It's quite cold and the snow has melted some then refrozen into ice sheets. 16 year old Samantha took her first turn down the hill. It was an ideal run - fast, straight, hair streaming behind her. All would have been perfect except her stop which entailed splatting into a shed at the bottom of the hill. Who puts a shed at the bottom of a perfectly good sledding hill? Scott watched to see if she'd get up. She didn't. He ran down the hill, fell on his recently surgically repaired shoulder, and picked her up. Nice sprained knee that sacrificed in lieu of her noggin.
Last on the agenda was cousin time with Grandma and Grandpa. Noise, running, and sugar highs, along with Samantha's recounting of her harrowing brush with the shed.
If you are waiting for my Christmas card, please expect it some time before June. I will have family pictures by then for certain. That is the estimated time that Alyssa will be leaving us for 18 months. For the record, I am not completely okay with her being gone for 18 months. On the other hand, it's a lot like her band trips. I miss her but she is having fantastic opportunity and I could certainly use the blessings of having a missionary out. Just so she doesn't make leaving for extended periods of time a habit.