Happy New Year, y'all! New Year's Day is, of course, so long in the past that nobody thinks of wishing anyone a Happy New Year now. But, as I've been AWOL, and silent on my without-leave-absence, I shall take this opportunity to say it. And to mean it.
We had such a lovely time over the Christmas and New Year holiday. I absolutely love this time of year! I love that the Builder has two weeks off work, and there is so little outside work to be done. I love that Katie had two whole weeks off, and Catherine had about ten days off. All this time off, all these short days and long nights, all this cold, dreich weather ... all these mean a whole lot of time spent in the house, with no need to go anywhere, and with the whole family.
Bliss, I tell ya. Bliss.
What I especially loved about these holidays was that, in addition to me going nowhere, others came to our house.
My Mum and Dad were with us for a couple of days of Christmas. There is nothing - nothing! - they love more than to be surrounded by their children and grandchildren. For these few days, they were especially privileged to have time with us, and not their other children.
After all, would you choose to spend time with Marina or with Neil, when you could spend it with ME?
Yeah, well.... whatever. By the way, 'Whatever' has become one of our favourite words, since the Builder - yes, you read that correctly - the BUILDER - began doing his hilarious version of "Whatevah". He is, of course, far too dignified to ever been seen or heard doing the whole Whatevah-thing ... except within these walls.
Sometimes I think the guy ought to be on stage.
Back to Granny and Grandpa
Granny gave me a row for taking photos and not reminding her that her glasses were around her neck. And also that I took a photo of her talking.
Erm .... it's either that, Mum, or I take a photo of you asleep!
As we were opening our presents on Christmas Eve, I was struck by just how much I had to be thankful for. All of the gifts, beautifully wrapped and kindly given, were a cause of thanksgiving. Yes, even stuff is important, when it's been given in love. But giving my heart much more joy were some of the blessings that surrounded me that couldn't be wrapped up in paper. The blessing of love, of health, of joy, of being surrounded by family, of security.
How full my cup is of measurable blessings and of immeasurable ones.
But even those - the very best of temporal blessings - are surpassed by the gift of Christ Jesus Himself. To have been given this gift is beyond words. That He came and lived and died so that sinners such as I could be saved ... What love. What mercy. What a gift!
Yes, we really did have a lovely time over Christmas.
Others then came for an evening of fun and food, of laughter and blethering:
This is the Builder's side of the family, and we normally get together on Boxing Day for a chilled-out, fun time. This year all the siblings, all the spouses, and all the kids were there.
The Builder's family: what a fine looking bunch they are. If they all gave me just a centimetre of their height, I could be almost normal. But no, they keep it all to themselves.
When the next generation (our kids and their cousins) are reaching the stages of life at which they are, us parents become more and more aware of how precious these opportunities are when all the family can get together. It's likely that very soon, some of the young 'uns will be living their own lives, and may not be able to join us for our Boxing Day get-together.
But for now, we will savour every happy minute of it.
We do love having some of the younger folks around too. These guys went for a couple of hours of Ten-pin Bowling at our local Sports Centre, and then came back here for some food, some blethering, and some Articulate.
Do y'all play Articulate? It is so much fun!
And finally, talking of people who came to visit, we had some very special visitors during the holiday.
Do y'all remember this fella?
No, not the Wee Guy. I know y'all remember him!
John is from Northern Ireland, and when he came to visit with us in summer, and be here for DR's 21st, we were pretty sure it wasn't DR's birthday, or the view, or even the Builder's winsome personality that had taken him to the wilds of Ness. We reckoned even the Wee Guy wasn't the reason he'd come. Nope, it would seem like someone had his heart. And that someone
was is Catherine.
This past holiday, he came back to see
us all Catherine. This time he brought his brother - we love you, Matthew!, and his parents. He also had a question to ask.....
A question to which the Builder said 'yes', and a question to which Catherine said YES!
Yes, our beloved daughter, Catherine, is now engaged to her beloved John.
The Builder is taking it, erm ... well, as fathers-of-brides do.
He is thankful, but it's his daughter!
He is glad John chose her, and that she chose John, but this is his daughter!
He sees the whole thing as being from the Lord ... but even then, this. is. his. daughter.
And daddies and daughters - well, what can I say.
No doubt, y'all will be hearing a fair bit more about an upcoming wedding in the weeks and months ahead.
And so, that was my Christmas and New Year holiday. I hope y'all had a great time too.