Christmas in Dixie

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Photo fun with decorated driftwood we found on the beach in St. Simons
After a degree of separation for TWO YEARS (yikes!), suffice it to say that it was good to be home for the holidays. I had been counting down the days since the moment I clicked “purchase” for our airline tickets back in August when December 22 seemed like an eternity away. At the time we were faced with life-changing events, namely Jeff’s long awaited return to school, and grappling with thoughts of “how are we going to survive?” Survive we did when suddenly we’re given a moment to reflect and BOOM, it’s time to pack!!
Touching down in Atlanta I suddenly had this feeling of certainty. I was again in a place where I know exactly how things work, where to go for this or that, how to communicate exactly what I want to say. There’s a sense of comfort that comes with being surrounded by what’s familiar and I welcomed it with open arms. I couldn’t wait for my first Cinnabon, sweet tea, Publix sub sandwich, BBQ, Chik-fil-A and a trip to TARGET!! These were just a few “musts” on our list of American must-haves, but we’d get to them eventually. Our first priority, of course, was to hit the road on our whirlwind tour to see family and friends.
There’s no denying that Christmas was BIG this year. My mom hosted Christmas at her house which meant a house full of family. Everything was en masse…the food, the people, the decorations, the gifts…there was nothing that fell short. It was the first time in as long as anyone could remember that we were all together for Christmas, and it was something truly special. Our next stop brought us to the Leslie side of the family in Alabama. Though the crowd was smaller, there was certainly no shortage of laughter. The proof set in the next morning when I realized my cheek and stomach muscles were sore. Jolly Ole Saint Nick would have been proud! Our third and final stop brought us to St. Simons Island on the coast of Georgia where we would have Christmas with the Kohlhoffs. Something about the giant Oak trees laced with Spanish moss swaying in the breeze gave us a sense that we were now on “island time”. Morning walks to the marshes, beach strolls, and island adventures by bike all made for a relaxing coastal getaway. But like all things, this too came to an end and we were once again headed for Atlanta.
We rang in the New Year in the city with our dear friends Chris and Kristin and their friends. A night on the town with our old friends was the perfect way to close out 2011, but it is nothing like a night out in Barcelona. How so? Simply put – waking up at 10 the next morning and walking to Waffle House for breakfast would never happen. Period. It was a welcome change. 🙂
Our final days were spent making our list and checking it twice to make sure we accomplished as much as possible. We shopped, ran errands, ate, and ate some more. A funny thing happened, though, as we indulged ourselves in the things we missed – the things we didn’t miss started getting in the way. I grew tired…tired of getting in a car to go anywhere, tired of parking lots, tired of out of control portion sizes, and tired of the extreme waste. We found ourselves looking forward to our return to Barcelona.
Returning home brought with it a rush of emotions. Hugging my sister for the first time in as long as I could remember brought on an unexpected wave of tears and laughter. Family reunions are always something special, but this felt different. The stories, the laughter, even the moments of solitude were moments to cherish. Splitting our time between Atlanta, Alabama, and the Georgia coast was perfect and allowed us to see family from far and wide. Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, cousins, longtime friends and new ones too…all made Christmas 2011 truly special. When would we have this again?
Christmas at my Mom’s house

Christmas dinner with the Leslie’s

An island Christmas with the Kohlhoff’s

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