Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday! Today’s gratitude stems from the week I just experienced in the Charleston, South Carolina vicinity, with my sister and her family during the Christmas holidays.
The last time I spent the Christmas holiday with them dates back to 2014 when she was still living outside Nashville, Tennessee. Without going into too much detail, that was a very memorable holiday but not in such a good way, given the amount of arguing and tension that was present more than not. Because of it, four years went by before I attempted another Christmas with them and I’m thankful to report that I have a lot to be grateful for this time around from beginning to end.
My first bit of gratitude began on my flight out when the woman who checked me in at the Delta desk saw how much pain and stress I was in and offered me some unconditionally loving words of support and blessings for my trip. Shortly thereafter, once I arrived at the gate, the agent there also acknowledged the physical pain I was in and moved me for free to a row with more leg room and told me she wouldn’t put anyone next to me on my flight. Later, after a very comfortable journey to South Carolina, I had to pick up my rental car, but given how late it was, I wondered if I’d get a decent vehicle to drive. Yet, Enterprise Rent-A-Car upgraded me for free to an entry level SUV that was still available, of which I was extremely grateful, mostly because it had heated seats, something that always seems to take some of the edge off of my muscle tightness any time I’m driving. When I finally arrived at the hotel, a Residence Inn, well after midnight, the clerk at the desk was really friendly and told me they had kept my room aside, a one-bedroom suite on the top floor away from everyone, just as I had requested. Room 429 then became my home away from home for the next week, providing me some much-needed rest and relaxation when I wasn’t with my sister’s family.
Nevertheless, over the course of the next six days I was able to experience a very different Christmas holiday from the one I had four years ago with my sister and her family. There wasn’t any major arguing or high stress-based tension this time around. Rather, there was far more laughter, love, and connection, three things I was desperately in need of with them. But instead of going into lengthy details of every single thing I experienced and was grateful for with them, here’s a quick list.
Delicious cupcakes and ice cream from my sister’s new store, Smallcakes. Building Legos, coloring, and playing with blocks with my youngest nephew. Taking walks with their family’s toy poodle around their neighborhood. Family board games at night. Teaching the card game Euchere to my twin nephews and watching as they almost beat my partner and I! Dining on sushi with one of my twin nephews and loaded burgers with another. Heart-felt conversations with my twin nephews about life and the changes they are going through. Watching Aquaman in 3D in an RPX-based theater at a Regal with them late one night. A special dinner out to a restaurant named Oscar’s with just my sister. A holiday party and making new connections at Smallcakes. A homemade lasagna dinner for Christmas Eve specially prepared by my sister. Getting to enjoy my favorite holiday dessert, Grasshopper Pie. Watching Serendipity for the umpteenth time on Christmas Eve with my partner. A short hike with my youngest nephew and one of the twins before Christmas dinner. A delicious Christmas dinner with every bit of trimmings and fixings. A crackling fire in the backyard of my sister’s house while goofing around with all my nephews. And a final breakfast at my hotel on the morning of my departure.
In the end, I have plenty to be grateful for this Christmas from this trip. I’m so thankful I was able to return home this time, actually looking forward to my next trip to see them, rather than thinking about taking an extended hiatus from doing it at all. For that, I’m most definitely grateful, to God, for them and my partner, for making Christmas 2018 a truly special one…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson