We left on Friday, December 23, for our family Christmas vacation...destination Branson, MO. We were to spend two nights in St. Louis at our son's house, and leave on Sunday morning, Christmas morning to drive on down to Branson, where we would meet up with our son and his wife from New Mexico (they drove in also).
We were on I-70, an hour's drive from our son's house in St. Louis, when it sounded like a tire blew out. We quickly pulled over to the shoulder of the road, and found that our wheel was about to come off. A tow truck took us to a Firestone Auto Repair near our son's house...60 miles away. The shop was already closed for the day, but they had said they could look at it on Saturday...Christmas Eve day. I was sure we would end up having to rent a vehicle to go on to Branson, but sure enough, they were able to fix the wheel by mid-morning on Saturday. Now, if that wheel had come all the way off before we got pulled over, or it if had been in the midst of St. Louis I-270 traffic, we could have had a real disaster! Who but God could arrange the details to our best advantage? Instead of having to rent a van for $1,000 for the week, we were able to drive our own van on down to Branson. And believe me, it was loaded to the hilt, plus five people!
We had a wonderful week with the family in our time share resort. We actually had three apartments that were connected. Each family had their own place to escape to...each had a bedroom, two baths, living room, kitchen/dining area, and washer/dryer. Two of them had Jacuzzis. Having all that space allowed everyone to be together when we ate, played games, had sharing times together, but gave room for getting away to a quiet spot and relaxing, reading, taking a nap...whatever. We also had an indoor pool with two hot tubs two buildings down from where we were located.
It was our intention to spend most of our time together at the resort, and not spend any money on the tourist traps of Branson. Believe me, there's a show for everything and everybody, but starting at $35 a ticket. That's just not how we wanted to spend our time and money. We ate our Christmas Dinner out at the Grand Country Buffet (where I got to have my favorite meal...turkey & dressing), but most of the meals were prepared at the resort. I had asked everyone to tell me what their favorite entrees, salads, and cookies were so I was ready with a menu. Monday morning I did my shopping for the week. Everyone pitched in with the cooking and the cleaning, but I loved preparing meals for my family!! By the way, we did drive around Branson on Christmas night to see the lights...very pretty.
Every day my granddaughters and I made a batch of cookies...everyone's favorites. We also worked on crafts together, played games, and watched movies. Each night a different person was in charge of sharing time. Here's what transpired each evening:
Christmas Night, Sunday - Carol - we as a family walked down memory lane recalling all of the previous time share trips (one every other year) since 2003. Lots of laughter there. Read Max Lucado's story "The Crippled Lamb", and read the Christmas story from Luke chapter two, and had prayer. We then celebrated first son's birthday and second granddaughter's birthday, after celebrating the birthday of Jesus. We played a game "Wits and Wagers". First time to play that...it was fun. Also played "Apples to Apples".
Monday Night - second son - shared the movie "Toy Story". Prior to watching it, we played a card game of "31", which is a game where people drop out one by one. As each one dropped out, they got to open a gift...a box of candy. The next person could either steal candy from another person, or draw a new gift. I had made sure to get each person's favorite theater candy. We all ended up with our choice of sweet and had that to munch on during the movie. By the way, this son also made supper for us that night...Fiesta Burritos, his meal of choice.
Tuesday night - daughter-in-law - asked us to share family traditions around Christmas. That was interesting. On this day we took a drive to College of the Ozarks, which is where one of our granddaughters thinks she would like to attend college...very nice campus. We also spent time driving around Historic Hollister and Historic Branson. We played a game of "Pit". DIL's favorite meal on this night was beef and noodles. Tuesday morning I gave out craft gifts to everyone...each adult receiving their favorite power car...a model to put together, and the girls received one to do with Dad, plus they had butterfly jars to make and some foam art.
Wednesday morning our New Mexico couple made us breakfast burritos...a staple in their diet. Some of us went to the pool and the playground on this day...nice weather out (pool was indoors). The meal this night was the request made by my two granddaughters, Curley's Spaghetti. They, along with Grandpa did the sharing time for Wednesday. The youngest one had drawn a picture of herself and Grandma to share with all of us. The oldest one had written a poem/song about "The 7 days of Christmas my Grandma gave to me...." It was funny. Grandpa had us play a game of Bingo. We had a basket of snackies and goodies, and whenever a person won Bingo, they got to pick something from the basket.
Thursday was shopping day...shopping at Thrift Shops and Outlet Malls. This was more or less for the girls. The guys did their own thing. We had Ground Beef Stroganoff for supper, choice by first son. He had sharing time and we talked about what it meant to be good. We played a game of spoons, and I gave out white elephant gifts on this day. Simple things from our home that seemed to be a right choice for each person.
Friday our New Mexico couple took off for Kansas City to spend the night with friends, and would be back on Saturday. The rest of us went to Silver Dollar City, where we met up with Nana and Papa, the girls' other grandparents. The day was sunny and nice, and we spent most of the day at the park riding rides, seeing shows, and watching the lights at night during the parade and on the train. We ate supper at the Golden Corral buffet, and then Nana and Papa came back to stay with us at the resort for the night.
Saturday the girls left after breakfast with Nana and Papa to head back to the St. Louis area for their family Christmas. Hubby, myself, and second son drove to Springfield, MO to meet up with New Mexico couple for lunch at a pizza buffet. On the drive back to Branson, we were leading in our van, and the other car was a couple of miles behind us. We got a call from them, and their vehicle was totaled in a freak accident. We turned around to go back to pick them up and assist them in the situation.
What happened was that a metal cow feeder fell off a trailer right in front of their vehicle...no time to stop or avoid it. Their air bags went off, and the windows were pushed outward instead of glass being shattered all over them and the car's interior. The car was pretty mangled by hitting/running over the metal feeder. A tow truck was called to haul the car off, which was deemed totaled. They were not injured at all. This could have happened to them in Kansas City or on their trip, instead it was two miles behind us...and we were there to pick them up. They could have been extremely injured in this accident, and they came through without a scratch or a bruise. Who but God could have worked things out in such good ways. They ended up flying back to NM from St. Louis (rode up with us from Branson on Sunday), and got a rental car for now until their car can be replaced.
New Year's Eve we spent just chatting, talking some about where to go in two years for our next time share gathering. Hubby was sick and went to bed early. The rest of us saw the New Year in, and then went to our bedrooms.
Sunday we checked out of the resort and headed back to St. Louis, stopping in Lebanon, MO to attend church were a former pastor of ours now preaches. They joined us for lunch at a Mexican restaurant after church, and then we drove on to St. Louis. Flight back to New Mexico left early evening. Hubby still sick, pretty much slept most of the day and night.
Monday morning we left St. Louis to head home to Michigan. Hubby drove a couple of hours, but then too weak and tired to drive, so I took the wheel of a van I wasn't used to driving...too big for me. Ended up driving all day, and we still didn't make it home. Weather prohibited us driving any farther than South Bend, IN. Snow was coming down in sheets, fast and heavy, and it was after dark. With hubby being sick, and me not sure how much snow would be out on the dark, unplowed roads, I opted for a motel room for the night. We checked in, ordered a pizza, and had a nice relaxing evening. The next morning we drove on home, picked up the doggies, and was home by noon. Spent the afternoon getting unpacked and settled back in, doing laundry, catching up on mail, email, bookkeeping, and planning a menu for my weekly shopping trip.
We are now into the new year, and that's for the next blog. I need to wrap up this long, detailed vacation blog with my devotional reading for the last of 2011. I did complete reading "The One Year Bible". Revelation and the minor prophets didn't speak to me a lot, but there are a few verses to share here in the blog. Here goes:
The Word for You Today
1. Your Habits Determine Your Future
- if you can do something consistently for 21 days, you have proven that you can do it for 21 years
- your success is found in your daily routine
- "continuing" is the secret of greatness
2. Start the New Year Right
- Forgive whatever grievance you may have. (Col 3:13)
- grudges isolate you from others and shorten your life because of the deadly enzymes produced in your body that lead to physical ailments.
- people who are at peace with themselves have learned to forgive and let go
- Here is your part: Tell the truth. Be fair. Live at peace with everyone. Don't plot harm to others; don't swear that something is true when it isn't! How I hate all that sort of thing - says the Lord. (8:16-17)
- See, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me, to repay everyone according to the deeds he has done. I am the A and the Z, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. Blessed forever are all who are washing their robes, to have the right to enter in through the gates of the city, and to eat fruit from the Tree of Life. (22:12-14)
- He who has said all these things declares: "Yes, I am coming soon!" Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! (22:20)
- The Lord is fair in everything he does, and full of kindness. He is close to all who call on him sincerely. He fulfills the desires of those who reverence and trust him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them. He protects all those who love him, but destroys the wicked. (145:17-20)
- Let everything alive give praises to the Lord! (150:6)
- Charm can be deceptive and beauty doesn't last, but a woman who fears and reverences God should be greatly praised. (31:25-31)