Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tis the Season to Give Thanks!

It had been decided upon that Charae, Leisel and I would be heading down early to California to help Grandma prepare for Thanksgiving. Since it has been a tradition in the Spafford household for many a year to decorate the house right before Thanksgiving, we decided that we must stick with that tradition and decorate on the very early date of  November the 14th.

It was quite a rush that Sunday as we rushed out of the church, quickly changed from our Sunday clothes to travel clothing, and then rushed off in time to catch our train. As it turned out, we found that our transportation had been delayed, and that we had plenty of time to sit around at the station. Instead of taking the train the whole way, we were going to be riding the bus for the first hour of our trip due to mudslides that had damaged the tracks along the way.

When we reached Portland station, we exited the bus to claim our luggage and to lug it all of the way to where we would be boarding. It was at this point that we were beginning to reconsider the amount of luggage that we had packed for our two week stay ;)

When we climbed climbed aboard the passenger car, we were glad to rid our sore shoulders of our many bags :)
Then we were off, and the train now had three giggly, excited passengers on board and a 13 hour train ride ahead of them. It was raining cats and dogs outside which made for a cozy ride. Since the train already has a tendency to be cold, we came prepared with our own blankets. With all that time ahead of us, we had plenty of time to freely roam the train. 

It was around 3 AM when we finally arrived in California feeling quite lively for it being such an early hour :)
That first night at Grandma and Grandpa's, we were scheduled to hear Chris Paranto, one of the four heroes that helped in the rescue at Benghazi.

Grandpa was very disappointed that he had not been in time to purchase VIP tickets. But what we ended up finding was that we had the better end of the deal. We got front row seats and were some of the first to rush to the front to meet Chris Paranto.

We three girls were flying high after hearing such a wonderful speech and on top of it, getting to actually meet him!

The next eight days that we had before the family joined us seemed to fly by...

...Wednesday finally rolled around and it was time to prepare Grandma the house for the great invasion of our family. The home was cleaned, a trip was made to Raleys, and a rather large shopping cart was filled to overflowing with groceries. The family had left home in record timing and they would be arriving by 2:30 that day.

Suddenly, the noise level seemed to rise, the house became strewn with luggage and sleeping bags, and life was back to normal again! :D

Grandpa enjoyed showing off his new Model A and giving rides to everybody in the rumble seat. It was rather funny to see the stares his old car would get as he drove it into town, and then the double takes that people would give when they saw that there were actually people riding in the back of the Model A :) 

Thanksgiving morning we were greeted with this sight from our porch: A helicopter was flying over head, carrying an American flag behind it that dwarfed the helicopter in size.

The weather had taken a rather chilly turn that day from the 70 degree heat that we had been having before. But rain or shine, we were going to get our traditional Thanksgiving walk in no matter what.

Kayleen went ahead of everybody to take family pictures of our cousin and her family :)

Twenty-eight people gathered around the large set up of tables in Grandma and Grandpa's garage to eat a very large and plentiful Thanksgiving Day feast. 

Annie was running around all day making sure that she didn't miss an opportunity to cuddle her cousin's little children...they received more attention then they knew what to do with.

Austin took every opportunity to wrestle whenever he could find a willing partner...the noise level always escalated to a higher level.

Mom made sure to get her baby fix in when she got an opportunity, getting a chance to hold her niece's little boy, Bennet :)

Since it was Grandma's birthday the next day, we made sure to give her the 'princess treatment'. We put up her Christmas decorations up for her, and prepared a meal of her choice: tri-tip, macaroni salad, and baked beans. Of course, the last and most important course was German Chocolate cake ;)

That night, we gathered together with family to celebrate a very special lady, who has made such an impact on so many lives!

While Leisel and I had been in Redding, Grandpa had been working so hard to find the perfect gift for Grandma. He had searched numerous jewelry stores till he found the perfect pairs of earrings for her birthday. 

The sun was so beautiful that last day that everybody was getting an itch to go outside. Dad took a car load of people out to Whiskey Town, a place he told us where he and mom had had some of their first dates :)

A lovely family joined us for dinner that evening. The Suhs are some dear friends of Charae's that she had gotten acquainted with while she lived down in Redding. She had gotten an opportunity to do some interpreting for the Pastor at his church as well. It was wonderful getting to finally meet these dear people!

Saturday evening was quite the rush trying to get all of the lunches made for the car ride home, packing all of our bags and loading them into the van. The plan was to leave by seven in the morning, We made it out the door by 7:15  (quite the record timing for the Spafford family ;) 
As we all piled into the van and everybody settled into their appointed seats, Leisel commented, "One of these days, this van is going to burst at the seams.". (we were all quite compacted in there :)
Everything went just great for the first 6 hours of our trip. We were almost home, already seeing familiar land marks when the battery light suddenly went on in our car and the CD player blanked out. The Lord had his hand of protection upon us the whole way, and we were able to make it safely to a near-by gas station where they replaced our car battery.

The Lord has given us so much to be thankful for this year! We've never lacked any good thing, but He has always given us exceedingly and abundantly above what we ask or think! I have always known that I have been blessed with the most amazing family in the world, but this year, as we all joined together to celebrate Thanksgiving, I felt especially blessed and thankful to the Lord for bringing us safely together again!!!

We're now all home again and settled back into our daily routines. Everybody has their individual schedules to keep and family times sometimes seem quite rare, but each evening we are blessed to gather around the table together for dinner and enjoy family devotions together. As the Christmas season draws nearer, we anticipate getting two weeks together with Dad off of work.

Soon after we'd gotten home from California, the Christmas festivities began...Christmas baking was started, all of our Christmas albums were taken out and played, and the perfect tree was cut down from the tree farm to place in our living room. Gifts were wrapped and the loads were carried down stairs to adorn the underneath of the tree. We watched "It's a Wonderful Life" in celebration of Kayleen's birthday.
 We are all looking forward to a blessed Christmas Day, as we continue the Thanksgiving celebration rejoicing in the birth of our Savior, Emmanuel, "God with Us"!!!