Week 7: Christmas

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This was a big week for us.

There was one question that we got over and over while this trip was still in the planning phase. Well, there were many, but this one was one of the most common questions I heard before leaving Wisconsin.

What are you going to do for Christmas?

Were we going to come back to Wisconsin to spend the holiday with Kelly’s family? Were we going to fly out to California to visit with my family? Where were going to be? Well, it was quickly decided, before we even left, that we would be spending Christmas together, just the four of us. The timing and finances of things simply wouldn’t allow for any holiday travel. Honestly, we didn’t even know what state we would be in until right around Thanksgiving when we booked our campground reservations.  This would be the first Christmas that we weren’t with either side of the family.

Before I talk about that, though, let me quickly recap our 7th week on the road.

As usual, our week starts at church. We made a commitment to ourselves before we left that we would attend a local church every week possible, and when not possible, we would have our own little service at home. It’s been nice to visit different churches over the last few weeks as we travel, and this week we visited another: the Pentecostals of Deland. It was a nice little church. One thing I really appreciated about this church was that in addition to Sunday School classes for the little kids, the older kids aged 7 and up, had their own church service with a sermon geared towards them. Sunday School is great and important, and I appreciate every Sunday School teacher I or my kids have ever had. When I was a kid, we went to Sunday School first and then the church service was after that. But with so many churches having children’s Sunday School at the same time as the preaching these days, I am starting to feel like I am robbing my kids by sending them out when the minister delivers the message God has given him for us. On the other hand, sometimes the adult sermon simply doesn’t make sense to a kid, so a kids service like this one at Deland was a pretty cool idea in my opinion.

For several months now Brytan has been asking to watch Star Wars. He’d never seen any of the movies although he’s become kind of familiar with the stories because of Lego and Disney Infinity. While I do enjoy the movies I’ve only seen each of them once or twice. The biggest reason I kept putting of showing them to him was that I didn’t remember many details and I didn’t want to show him something that wasn’t age appropriate. So last Saturday I woke up early and watched the original Star Wars movie, Episode IV, A New Hope. After I figured out the two scenes I wanted to skip past with him, we started watching it together that afternoon. After Sunday’s church service and lunch, we headed home and then finished the movie. In short, he loved it.

Of course he had a lot of questions, most of which I didn’t know the answers to since I’m not up on my Star Wars trivia. But it was great to spend a couple of hours watching with him. Bonus: Charlie and Kelly decided to join us as well. We’re all becoming Star Wars nerds, slowly but surely.

Also, Luke was a lot whinier than I remember.

Tuesday afternoon I cut out of work an hour or so early and we headed to Orlando to a place called Wonderworks for a school field trip. From the outside it looks like a giant building turned upside down. On the inside, it’s one of those hands on, educational museum places that are pretty fun for the kids even though they are learning something along the way. There were a lot of exhibits as well as some things that were there just for fun. It was worth the trip and the kids had a lot of fun. Afterwards we had dinner at some new (to us) restaurant whose name I can’t remember. I thought it was pretty good, but Kelly fell in love. She even sent me an obligatory food photo to include in the gallery below.

Wednesday night we joined our new peeps for our new weekly bingo tradition. It’s a lot of fun and we’d go even if we never won anything, but this week we actually won $43 between us. We also own six daubers now for some reason, since two apparently isn’t enough. One of the ladies even brought a bag with new crayons, pens and coloring books for the kids. I have to say that I never expected a campground to be this social, and to so quickly include us along with those that have been, and will be, here for several months or longer.  We’ll miss this place when we move on.

That brings us back to Christmas. Like many, many others, I wasn’t working on the 24th so I had four straight days to spend with my family with no other real obligations. There were no appointments, no calls, no unwanted errands, no schedule. Other than a nice Christmas day lunch with about 100 or so other residents of this campground and church this morning, we just hung out and did what we wanted. We all had moments where we missed our families and the familiar traditions we’ve built over the years, and I’m sure we will be glad to get back to some traditions next year, but I have to say that being able to spend one of the most significant holidays on our calendar hanging out with the three most important people in the world to me was pretty spectacular.

We did keep some traditions, although with a newer, high-tech spin. We usually spend Christmas Eve with Kelly’s parents and any gifts between us and them get opened that evening. This year, through the magic of technology, the kids got to video chat with the Larsons while opening the gifts they had sent. The Isaacs family has always strictly adhered to the Christmas morning opening of gifts. I was going to suggest a video chat with my parents until I realized it would be 4:00 in the morning for them in California when the kids were unwrapping their gifts. Instead, we just recorded it and then called them a little later.

This trip has been amazing. I am so glad that we were able to experience this disruption to our normal routine. People asked how we thought we could stand being with each other 24×7 for so long. Even though we love each other, won’t we all get on each others’ nerves? I have to say, that after seven weeks, that hasn’t been a problem. In fact, one of the absolute best parts of this trip is seeing my kids become closer. They’ve always played pretty well together, and even now they occasionally argue, but I can see that they are becoming close friends now — maybe even best friends. They watch out for each other. They fight less. They help each other with school work. They compromise more without being asked to by Kelly or myself.

My sister and I fought a lot when we were young. Sure we played together and generally loved each other, but we fought a lot. It wasn’t until I was somewhere around 15 or 16 that we started to really get along. Then I “left” at 19 (both physically and emotionally) and didn’t really come back until I was 24. Then 10 months later I moved to Wisconsin. I had done a lot of growing up between 24 and 25, and more since then, and I think that my sister and I have a really good relationship now, but I sometimes wish I hadn’t wasted so many years.

I’ve never had any doubt that my kids love each other, but it is so awesome to see their relationship grow as much as it has, even in just these few weeks. If that was the only benefit of this trip, it would have been enough.

To all of those that we’ve missed seeing this Christmas season, thank you for your prayers and notes. We love you and miss you. Keep writing and come visit us!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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