Festive Ride aboard the Jeep Express

Have no doubt, I will miss my Dad greatly. But I am not one to curl up in a ball until the hurt goes away. One thing my Dad’s life taught me is that, whatever storm you face, you have to keep going. He wouldn’t want me to stop living. He wouldn’t want me to stop laughing. He certainly wouldn’t want me to stop loving.

That said, will you join me? Would you climb aboard the Jeep Express? I promise you won’t regret it. It is a new tradition born out of an idea from Shell in your Pocket’s mini van express ride. I read her entry several months before Christmas and fell in love with it. I’m giving her all the credit because I couldn’t possibly think of something so creative.

I must saying starting a tradition requires a lot more effort than following one. First, you have to set the scene, have the props, then follow through with it all. Not easy to do with a three and five year old, who doesn’t quite get it, although I think next year they will catch on much quicker. This year, it took them a bit to warm up.

I set the scene by telling Molly the story of the Jeep Express. I said, “Sometimes during Christmas when the kids get their jammies on, and head to bed, they discover under their pillow a ticket to ride the Jeep Express. The Jeep Express has popcorn, candy, and drinks. It goes to see the Christmas lights.”

Molly decided she didn’t want to do that. She thought the Jeep Express would take her someplace scary. I had to convince her that Daddy drives the Jeep Express and he wouldn’t take her someplace scary, right? Then, she said didn’t want to go look at Christmas lights this year. WHAT???

Don’t worry I didn’t panic, I just went to look under Daddy’s pillow for a magical ticket. Lo and behold there WAS a ticket! It read Praire Lights one admission tonight only on the Jeep Express! (not that they can read….)

Now that pretty much did it, we began the great hunt for Jeep Express tickets. We found tickets under both of their pillows. We began jumping around the room, holding our tickets above our heads, dancing, and waving them around. YEAH! Tonight we ride the JEEP EXPRESS!! TOOT! TOOT! (good thing Dad drives a Jeep, wink)

The conductor (Daddy) took the tickets at the door. Inside the express they went, with their goody bags of candy, Christmas necklaces that blink, and warm fuzzy blankets.

The Jeep Express had to make one stop on the way. It was to pick up Sydney and Kyle, question was, did they have a ticket to ride?

Why yes! Yes, they did! Upside down and all. Off we go on the Jeep Express, which is not to someplace scary, but a place of festive wonder. A display of FOUR million lights, along two miles next to the lake. A place to transform Daddy’s Jeep into a junk food smorgasbord. You can eat, drink, and be merry. It was incredible. We had popcorn, candy, and soda. There were many exclamations, “Look at that!” “Wow!” It seemed like the more you looked, the more you saw something else in all the glow.

I think this new tradition will stick. As much as I miss my Dad, I can’t miss these opportunities to begin anew. Dad never remarried, maybe he was scared to, or maybe he never had the chance. I know had it happened, he would have been greatly rewarded. So Dad, this ones for you. Enjoy the ride.

The finale, which was who knows how many LED lights in a tunnel. Unbelievably, spectacular!

May your traditions burn as bright as you are this Christmas, and always. Thanks for riding the Jeep Express.

I don’t “do” Black Friday

It scares the wee out of me.  Aggressive trampling crowd, elbows flying, sprints to endcaps, a tug of war over the last one, where you end up beaten bloody on the floor -crying Mama – while you rock back and forth sucking your thumb.

Um, no thanks!  Okay, I’m sure that’s not what really happens, but I have no desire to find out otherwise. I’ll just lounge in my PJs, thankyouverymuch.

Yesterday was my first Thanksgiving with Jason’s family. His mother graciously welcomed me, my mother, and my daughter Sydney to the grand feast.  The table was decorated with ceramic pumpkins, fancily folded napkins in rings, and beautiful china. The food was a foodie lover’s dream, so friggin’ delicious. She went above and beyond. That is one mother who LOVES with all her heart, and it spills over into all the hard work she puts into this Thanksgiving dinner for her family.

Even more beautiful was the children racing around, giggling, screeching, and constantly filling their bellies. I have decided my delight in  children comes from a long line of family genes. Goes back as far as we know to teachers in the previous generations. Except it ended with me, because I loved travel more, but I digress.

I got a kick out of watching my mother, mingle, laugh, and enjoy the meelee. Most of the children in our family are grown, so this was a sight to see and reminisce.  It was eerie how well she fit in. But I’m not surprised. Good people with the same values, and upbringings as ours, which is why I love them so much.

Black Friday kicks off the start of the countdown to Christmas.  Black Friday is a shoppers dream. Black Friday reminds me of the time my car was broken into. I was running on the trails in Fort Worth.  It was somewhere around six or seven miles.  I get back to find a policeman next to my car which has a shattered drivers side window.

That wasn’t even the worst of it. My purse was in the car. Yes, I know –  how dumb. I went to the back hatch opened it, popped the hidey hole, and voila there was my purse. Then I checked the middle console where my keys were (to the car, house, etc). Yep! Still there. Oh the cop was none to happy about that, but seriously – jogging with a big wad of keys? – or jogging with a very small remote to the car? Yeah, I chose remote – shamefully.

I was very lucky. I never parked there again, and at the time – I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to jog again. Husband 2 was a tyrant. He went ballistic over this infraction. Of course, it was my fault, and I was never to jog again, EVER. Insurance does not pay for that, so we had to fork over a few hundred dollars. Some Black Friday, huh? See why I don’t like them.

But the gift was that it could have been so much worse, being my purse was in the car, and keys. All I lost was a lousy tinted window.  I have never parked there again, in fact, I started parking in a shopping center and walking to the trails. I never, ever took my purse with me.  So, it all worked out, I got to keep running at my favorite park and learned some valuable lessons.

That brings me to what I promised myself, that I would begin a series of posts,  from now until Christmas titled Timeless Gifts. You know what those are – things you can’t price – just revel in the majesty of the gift. Instances of  kindness that blow you away, or movement of the season to make you really realize what Christmas is all about. An unbelievable act that has you falling to the floor, shouting  “I’m not worthy!”  Yeah, those kind.

I have a lot of those in my life. The car breakage is one.  Can you imagine right before Christmas to have your I.D and bank card stolen? It would have made for a tough time, to deal with all that, and wonder if you’d ever be safe again – not to mention the fallout, and punishment from #2.

I, for one, was very grateful it wasn’t that bad and still am. My eyes were opened to the Timeless Gifts that happen all around. I hope I can share them with you. I hope I do the stories justice in the coming weeks. Until then….

Happy “black” Friday! I hope you get gifts galore at half the price.