What they say is true: holiday season after you've lost a loved one is tough. Grief is a funny thing: reminders of the person seem to pop up at unexpected times. During the holidays, it's a consuming sense that holidays will never be the same. Mama Hop loved to cook, host, and entertain - especially during the holidays. It's hard to accept that this will never happen again.
Fortunately, Travis has a sweet family who welcomed us with open arms. So we all piled in the car and geared up for a 9 hour road trip to see Travis' family. While visiting many a truck stop bathroom in rural Nebraska with 4 additional females are not my idea of a good time, we made it!
We arrived to find that YaYa, Papa, and Cousin Abby had gone all out in decorating for Christmas. They even set up YaYa's prized snow village collection. The girls were delighted.
In addition to providing a festive atmosphere, YaYa spent all day preparing a delicious Thanksgiving meal while Papa fried a delicious turkey. The grand kids sat at the customary "kids table" in the kitchen while the rest of us enjoyed a feast in the dining room. But no one began their meal until Leanne had a chance to lead us in prayer.
After we stuffed ourselves with all of the delicacies a traditional thanksgiving entails, the girls changed into their matching Christmas pajamas and we shifted into Christmas mode.
YaYa gets the girls matching pajamas every Christmas. This year, she was kind enough to include Leanne in this tradition.
And while Travis' family have always been generous with thoughtful Christmas gifts, they went above and beyond to include Leanne and to make sure that she had plenty of gifts, based on her interests, to bring smile after smile to her face.
Leanne received a Starbucks gift card and ornament and this made her so happy, I didn't have many pictures to post that weren't entirely blurry from Leanne's giddy dancing.
Then, there was this adorable apron that YaYa and Papa brought back for Leanne from Italy.
A daily word search calendar and Tic Tacs?! Could these people have found a faster way to get to Leanne's heart? I doubt it. They hit the ball out of the park and Leanne's delight was evident.
Our girls really enjoyed their gifts, too. Josie got several singing animals. Merryn and Biddy both got American Girl dolls. Biddy got a whole container of lip gloss from Cousin Abby and she was over the moon!
Speaking of sweet Cousin Abby, she also gifted Merryn with knitting supplies and she patiently taught her to knit. Merryn was entranced with this new hobby.
Overall, Thanksgiving was tough, but the overarching sentiment conveyed was generosity, kindness, and love. Travis' family welcomed Leanne as though she has belonged all along. And we could not be more appreciative for their love and support. Talk about filling our hearts with gratitude.
Happy Thanksgiving 2018!