Families logo

Christmas Recaptured

2010 then and now 2024

By Shirley BelkPublished 2 months ago 9 min read
The Griswold's have nothing on my bunch!

Christmas to me, has always been about celebrating the birth of our Saviour, Jesus, who came in the form of a baby to a world that desperately needed Him. I am in awe of that!

That's why when we have babies (and children) in our families, Christmas is also an appropriate time of year to celebrate the amazing love they bring into our lives, as well. We can recapture our lost innocence. That is exactly what Jesus came to do, isn't it?

Santa comes around and it's also a time for grandparents to shower those grands with love in many ways...cooking, hugs, stories, and special gifts. Sometimes, it's like being able to do for them what we weren't financially able to fully do for our children when they were young. Or maybe we were busy working and time just slipped past us. Christmas and grandchildren are second chances. At least, for me, it is.

As I was cleaning out my desk drawers not long ago, and I found some notes I had made about my Christmas 2010 trip to see my children and their families. I don't even remember jotting those notes down, but I'm so glad I did...I can now re-live those moments. I think the grandkids will find humor in them, too. Maybe some might even remember the memories as I weave them into my story.


The players and ages in 2010 are as follows:

*My son, David's crew: Kaitlyn (15) Caleb (10) Kylie (6.)

fyi: His other two, Jade (15) and Anna (14) would be spending their holidays at their perspective mother's houses, so you won't see them in this story.

*My son, Marc's crew: Austen (15) Cara (14) and Heaven wouldn't be born until 2012.

*My daughter, Christina's crew: Lea (11) and Andrew (5)

*My daughter, Lora's crew: Lane (6) and Madelyn (4)


Most of the years (when my grandchildren were small,) I lived in Texas, and they lived in Mississippi. A one-way trip was at least ten hours away. If driving back and forth, it took two days out of the small vacation time I had to spend with them. Flying was no piece of cake, either. The commercial airports were an hour away from my destination once landing in Mississippi. No easy feat, but well worth it.

I had finished the semester teaching and couldn't wait to get on the plane and head to all the hugs and joyous giggles that awaited. I had a touch of what Texans call, "cedar fever," but I wasn't going to let allergies stand between me and my grandbabies!

But by the time the plane landed, I was losing my voice and felt outright cruddy. While flying, my ears hurt, and my throat felt "scratchy". My luggage was also missing. Hopefully, the airlines would locate it and bring it to me? But soldier on I did.

I decided to take pictures on my new I-phone. (Before that, I had a flip top.) I thought the grandkids would be impressed with photos of real airplanes taken with new technology. Only Kaitlyn & Lea had flown before and that was to visit with me. The pictures didn't seem to bring enthusiasm to any of them, though. Even taken with a phone camera...Grandma fail...

Tatu from Fantasy Island (old TV show)

Christina's family home was closest to the airport, so that was the first place to visit in my rental car. Andrew, at first shy and reserved, stayed close to his mama, but after only a minute, he lurched towards me and gave my legs a big bear hug. (My heart...)

Lea let me borrow a pair of her pajamas to sleep in because mine were who knows where. And Andrew wanted me to bunk with him. He tried to sleep the whole night with me but ended up in his mother's bed because He said, "Nana was making too many scary noises." I guess my snoring was Grandma fail #2.


Early the next morning, while drinking a relaxing cup of coffee with Christina, my other daughter, Lora called to say she was ready for me to pick up her two children, Lane and Madelyn. (Lora would be going to work in the community clinic where she was a nurse.) Kaitlyn and Cara were babysitting them during the holidays while school was out. And my luggage was "taxied" to me from the airport...thank goodness.

I made plans to take these six grandkids Christmas shopping to pick out their individual gifts from me. Brave Nana! I borrowed Christina's van so we could all fit, and Lea, Andrew, and I took off for their other cousins who lived close by.

As I drove, Christina's two kept me in stitches talking about how bad their mother drove. "Too fast!" "No, too slow!" "Too reckless!" "Gets lost!" I just listened and tried not to laugh out loud. They reminded me of the banter their mother and her siblings had about my driving in younger years.

Just Observing...

As Lea, Andrew, and I pull up to "Aunt Lo-Lo's" house, Kaitlyn and Cara rush out with hugs and pure gratefulness to see me. Following them, are Lane and Madelyn, who, I'm told, "have been tormenting their older cousins to death." "No," I replied, "it couldn't be my two little redheaded sweethearts doing that!"

So, since I have three older grandchildren and three younger grands, I came up with a fast survival plan for going to lunch and then shopping. I would need to pair them up for supervision. Let's face it, I was outnumbered! Each older would watch over a younger on our outing. Chaos is okay...just not mass chaos.

Once again in the van, we discussed where to go to eat. Some said McDonalds and some said Wendys. Then we discussed who was old enough to eat a big Mac and not a happy meal. We decided Wendy's might fix the argument, but Madelyn said she still wanted a Little Mac, though.

One big chocolate milk spill later inside of Wendy's and the older kids almost quit on me with the supervising gig. Nobody got kicked out of the place, though. Maybe because Andrew's other grandma was the manager there???

Spill in Wendy's

Next, to the shoe store! Lea wants boots. She decides on a nice furry, beige pair. She was a girl that knew what she wanted. Kaitlyn picks out a bright, neon green pair of sneakers, tried her best to convince Cara to get a pair of the same, but had no such luck. They did agree to both get a different pair of neon-colored socks to trade off to have wacky unmatched ones, which apparently was trendy back then.

Several stores later...including Wal-Mart, Cara finally decides on a nice shiny top and a beautiful black sweater with lace. She is a Diva!

While at Wal-Mart, I get a prednisone prescription filled that Lora has called in for me. I am croaking...and let's be clear...the added energy boost from the side effects of this medication will be a plus on this trip.

After doing a bit of grocery shopping, we all loaded up again to go spend time with Christina and to take Lea and Andrew back home. Marc and Austen will meet up with us later, too.

Christina cooked us all a wonderful meal for supper, and I spent the rest of the day just playing with the grandkids. The boys played in the sand with their new cars and trucks they had picked out while I played softball with Madelyn. Kaitlyn decided to run some laps. Cara and Lea preferred to stay in the house to play on the Wii games.

Hours of fun

When Marc and Austen arrived, we all said our goodbyes to Christina and her crew. Austen was anxious to buy an outfit of Camouflage for his gift. He also wanted some cologne. He was getting to the age of liking girls. :(

On that last round of shopping, I picked out gifts for David's kids that weren't with us. I would see them soon. And then we headed back to Lora's.

First on the agenda was Madelyn taking a bubble bath with her new Barbie mermaid. She was so happy to have me all to herself and it was wonderful for me, too.

Madelyn and Ariel

Lane, who told me his real name was "Sparky," was proud to show me all around his room, even showing me his special drawer. Inside was a "secret stash" of his leftover Halloween candy. What a character he is!!

Lane's stash from Halloween

After the younger kids were asleep, the older ones enjoyed staying up late and having a long chat and lots of laughs with Marc, Lora, and me. Priceless, wonderful memories.

Our Big Family Christmas Dinner Get Together was the next day in Tupelo, Mississippi. With almost twenty people, counting kids, grandkids, in-laws, out-laws, and myself, the ONLY option was a buffet with a well-tipped server at hand. The food and the company turned out to be excellent!

Barnhill's Buffet

After the meal was finished, Austen and Cara returned to their mother's, Christina took Lea and Andrew home, and David's family went home, too. Marc, Lora, and I took her kids to the mall for pictures with Santa. The lines were too long for Lora to handle, so instead, Lane and Madelyn rode on the merry-go-round, and then we all went back to her house. Santa would be coming the next morning.

Christmas morning was perfect because a light snow began falling as the kids hurriedly opened their gifts. What a blessing to see this. And just as soon as the leftover mess from the packages was cleaned up and we all had enjoyed playing with their new toys, it was time for them to dress and be off to their father's place, including Lora to hers.

Marc and I decided to eat Christmas brunch at Huddle House, take a long nap, and wait on David to call to tell us when they were back from his wife's family dinner. Our plan was to enjoy a few more days with them before I headed back to Texas.

Open on Christmas Day...waitress got a big tip!

Once at David's house, Caleb and Kylie dove into their presents from me. Caleb was a reader, and had mentioned seeing the movie, so I got him the complete set of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." He loved it.

Great books

For Kylie, I picked out a beautiful purple and black velvet dress adorned with a heart and key locket. She loved it, and said, "Oh, Nana. did you get this at Jared's?" (There was a commercial like that.) That kid cracks me up. She can be so funny.

famous for commercial, "Did he get that at Jared's?"

Christmas evening's dinner was also spent at Huddle House. Thank goodness they were open because none of us wanted to cook and clean. And then we went back to David's and played the game I bought for us:

A game that any dumbass could win...(fun trivia)

Later that evening, snow continued to fall. One of David's neighbors had just come home from the hospital the day before, and was concerned about his surgical dressing and discomfort. Being a nurse, I told him I would assess it and give him my opinion. So, in the dark and across the yards we trekked.

As I stepped into the neighbor's house, I failed to notice there were steps going down into their home, and I completely and thoroughly missed my footing, and my feet became air bound. I landed on the back of my head, teeth chattering in repercussion as my head hit the tile flooring. I truthfully thought I would be toothless if I survived. But apparently my hard head and cushioned body, saved me and all that was hurt was my pride.

I was able to check the neighbor's dressing, and then my sons insisted on taking me to the emergency department. I had X-rays and Cat scans which all showed nothing broken or damaged...just a big knot. They did prescribe some pain pills for me, though.

As is tradition in the Southern states, all the men and boys go deer hunting. No meat is ever wasted. Many families depend upon it. Before I left Mississippi, I got to see them all dressed in camo. And Marc killed a deer.

I spent the last day with Lora who lived in Amory, Mississippi. She took me to:

Amory, Mississippi
They were delicious, too!

And after the goodbyes and hugs, I drove to the airport (and stopped along the way to pick up a cotton bole.) Once on the plane, I took a pain pill for my head, and I still had no voice left to complain with. But what marvelous memories to bring home, otherwise.

Cotton bole


About the Creator

Shirley Belk

Mother, Nana, Sister, Cousin, & Aunt who recently retired. RN (Nursing Instructor) who loves to write stories to heal herself and reflect on all the silver linings she has been blessed with :)

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments (6)

Sign in to comment
  • Staringale2 months ago

    This is such a sweet family-connection story. Personaly I have never read the 'Dairy of Wimpy Kid' but I will read at now.

  • Hannah Moore2 months ago

    It sounds like you got so brilliantly involved with all your family.

  • I'm so glad you managed to get your luggage back from the airport! Mmmm, that spilt chocolate milk look soooo good! I've only read the first 3 or 4 books of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series but I've not watched the movie. Looks like you had such a wonderful time!

  • John Cox2 months ago

    Wonderful story! Grandchildren are the best second chances. Your long trip from Texas to Mississippi reminds me of my own childhood. We would drive from Minnesota to Corinth, Mississippi every summer. There aint nothing like a Mississippi hug from your grandparents. Precious, precious memories.

  • Andrea Corwin 2 months ago

    A nap is required in between these explorations with the kids LOL! Very nice story.

  • Mark Gagnon2 months ago

    Sweet story, Shirley! It's a 21/2 day drive for me to see the family and across the Atlantic flight for my wife to see hers. We always make the most of the time where together.

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.