Merry Christmas, everyone!…Christmas Eve festivities…”We’ll figure it out”…

A band from Minnesota played country music at the Apache Junction VFW’s
Christmas Eve festivities.

Today’s photos were from yesterday afternoon while we attended the festivities at a local Apache Junction VFW from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Later in the day, we gathered at Colleen’s house for snacks and more entertaining and lively conversations. Four neighbors stopped by to join the six of us.

Although it never snowed anywhere we’ve traveled over the world the past seven years, except while we were in Antarctica almost two years ago, somehow being in the US during Christmas feels a bit unfamiliar without snow.

Tom, another year older but still loads of fun!

With its usually warm and mild winters, Arizona doesn’t quite remind us of Christmastime, even with the lights and decorations. Today, it’s raining. Then again, during these past travel years, we haven’t created the ambiance we so well remember of Christmases long ago. 

We have no decorations, no tree, no gifts, no tins of home-baked Christmas cookies. Nor did we send out Christmas cards or gifts other than to our grandchildren.

But, somehow, the Christmas spirit fills our hearts, and we think of our loved ones far away and may, at times, miss the merriment we so embraced in our old lives.

Tom and brother-in-law Gene. Note Tom: always using his hands when he tells a story. We didn’t include photos of other family members when they preferred not to publish their photos online. No problem.

We’d be foolhardy to say we don’t miss certain aspects of our old lives. We do. We’ll always miss our family members and friends. At times, we even forget our old house, the lake, the wildlife, and our wonderful neighbors.

But, it feels as if all of that was a lifetime ago. These seven years have left us drawing upon memories of prior years, which is a blur in many ways…not the time we spent with loved ones but the intangible sensations of the Christmas season…the smell of cookies baking; the twinkling of tiny lights on the tree; and the often falling snowflakes.

But soon, as we embark on yet another exotic and unusual journey, we find ourselves relieved of such idle meanderings as we imagine the future ahead of us and what treasures it has to bring.

Nothing like an adorable “wiener dog” to liven up the VFW’s Christmas Eve festivities.

No, people don’t understand the powerful hold that the wanderlust spirit has blissfully imposed upon us. We love this life. We’re often asked, “How could you possibly leave everyone you love behind?”

We didn’t make that decision lightly, nor do we flippantly consider it now. We hope and pray our family members to understand and know full well that however far away we may be, they are always in our hearts and minds.

My paternal grandmother, whom I dearly cherished, lived across the country when I was a child. We only saw her once every five or six years and stayed in touch via handwritten letters and perhaps a once-a-year phone call. I never loved her any less that she chose to live far away. I loved her all the more.

Many brought “white elephant gifts” to swap amongst each other. It was fun to see some of the funny gifts, including a 10-year-old who ended up with an adult movie that his parents immediately grabbed from his hands.

We can only hope our fast-growing-up grandchildren and adult children feel the same, accepting and loving us just the same. With the availability of the internet, it has been much easier to stay in touch, see their faces, hear their voices, and share their lives.

Life is never perfect, nor is it precisely as we wished it would be with all the efforts we’ve made in the world. This past year was a life-shattering and potentially life-changing experience when I had emergency open-heart surgery in February in South Africa.

Both of us have had many challenges in our lives, as most people do. Yet, somehow, we made it through. Did we learn something from this frightening experience? I can’t say we learned a lot about ourselves we didn’t already know.

The table was filled with white elephant gifts.

But, we did learn one thing often asked of us, “What will you do if something goes wrong?” At the time of these types of queries, we’d look at one another and reply, “We’ll figure it out.”

And that is exactly what we did. We figured it out. Here we are now, only 35 days before departure for India, and we’re braced and ready for this next phase of our travels, armed with the knowledge that we have the motivation, mutual love, and determination that we’ll always be able to “figure it out.”

Merry Christmas to every one of our family members, readers/friends, and all the people we’ve met along the way. We truly feel blessed in more than one way.

Photo from one year ago today, December 25, 2018:

Little doesn’t disappoint.  He stopped by Christmas Eve morning and began walking up the steps to the house. I found him on step #3 and encouraged him to eat outside. He complied.  I tendered pellets, apples, and carrots.  He ate the produce and left the pellets thinking about the human leftovers he would be getting elsewhere at a holidaymaker’s house, maybe chips, Christmas cookies, and marshmallows (none of which are suitable for him).  But, after all, he is a pig, and he likes junk food, too. Merry Christmas. For more, please click here.

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