In last week’s post we overlapped two elements of Easin’ Along – Food and Fun with Friends – and this week we are going to overlap two more – Faith and Family. I have to admit that it’s been an active week and this post has been pounded out in something of a hurry. I apologize if it seems less than my best effort, but this is still a labor of love in that I get to share what is important with people who are important.
Helen and I were in the great city of Charleston, SC to visit our son and his family and celebrate an early Christmas because they would be traveling on Christmas Day to visit our daughter-in-law’s family…yes, Christmas is a busy time of the year.
Because Christmas can get overwhelming at times, we were determined to have a relaxed weekend and spend some time with our precious granddaughters as well as spend some time observing the reason for the season.
We arrived on Friday evening and had a casual dinner with everyone. Our hosts had just moved into a new home. Everything was still in a state of flux, but they had done a great job of getting organized in time to decorate a tree and make sure that the children had a place to play and that their lives were as normal as possible. We made a dinner out of the sour cream enchiladas that Helen had made and brought with us in the cooler…delicious.
On Saturday morning I met with an expert on Case pocketknives to get an appraisal of my knife collection (more in a later post) while Helen and the family went to a performance of “Best Christmas Pageant Ever” at the historic Dock Street Theater (built 1736). We met at the Variety Store restaurant at the Charleston Marina. All agreed that the play was the best Christmas pageant…ever!
After we ordered from the menu, our oldest granddaughter, Bennett, sat quietly and colored on the drawings provided by the restaurant. This is a beautiful girl and she really loves to color. I was impressed with how much she was into her artistic endeavor. Our other granddaughter, Cason, spent her time going from parent to grandparent and back again. She is the busiest one in the family.
Lunch was served and I won as far as selection was concerned with a delightful dish of Blackened halibut resting on a bowl of Gumbo. It was splendid.
That evening we sat around the tree and opened family Christmas gifts. Our son had moved his IMac computer into the living room so that we could be joined by our other son’s family in Redondo Beach, California. We were connected by the Face Time App and it was almost as good as having everyone in the same room…almost. The connection was great and it was so good to see our California kids who are growing up too fast.
On Sunday morning we were up early so that we could make it to the nine o’clock service at Grace Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston. We were so proud of ourselves because everyone was up, dressed, fed, and ready to depart in plenty of time, and that’s not always easy with two little ones. The reason that we went early was so that our granddaughters could take part in the Processional of children walking in with Mary and the Baby Jesus.
Grace Episcopal is a beautiful old church and on this day it was filled to the rooftop with adults and young children. I was awed by the beauty of the sanctuary. The service was a lively observance of the birth of Christ led by the children’s performance of that blessed event. The Priest led us in readings while the children performed. At the conclusion, the participants in the Processional entered and our granddaughters joined in and walked to the altar. The processional was large and it was also very inspirational.
After the service we attended a reception in one of the meeting rooms of the church. The crowd was both large and friendly and I was so thankful that we were able to be a part of it. The cookies were good too.
After church, we decided to take the short walk into downtown Charleston to see the display of model trains that had been set up in the lobby of Charleston Place, an indoor shopping area.
It was a beautiful morning and the walk was very pleasant with few people in the downtown area at that time. I couldn’t help but notice the contrast of Christmas decorations and the palm trees that lined the streets of Charleston.
The train display was very well done and our girls loved it. They were able to walk up a circular stairway to grab a better view. My hat is off to whoever put this together. It made me want to get into model trains, but I have enough activity for now…maybe next week.
In the afternoon my son and I decided that the day was too nice not to go fishing in the salt marsh creek behind his home. We bought a few shrimp and tried our luck to no avail. However, the marsh on James Island Creek is so beautiful it was just a treat to be out there on his dock. He has a lovely view of the marsh and Charleston Harbor and I was able to capture a picture of two sailboats passing in the distance. I could have stayed there forever.
Back inside, Helen was helping the girls with their gingerbread houses. Both girls are somewhat perfectionist and it takes patience to go through the trials of gingerbread home construction, but NOBODY has more patience than Helen, and she pulled it off like a pro. The rest of the afternoon consisted of a neighborhood visit and football for me.
That evening, Helen and I did a little babysitting while Mom and Dad attended a gathering at a friends house. I got to do story time for the girls and gave a lively rendition of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” that took us straight to bedtime. It was a busy day indeed.
We returned home the next day. It is a week later, and I’m consumed with getting everything in order for Christmas and wanting to get this post up before this day is done. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy the pictures of our family gathering and the beautiful area that is Charleston, SC. When it comes to retirement activities, there is none better than spending time with family and taking another step along our journey of Faith. Thanks for letting us share both with readers of Easin’ Along. Have a Blessed Christmas season.
I have included in the paragraphs below a submission that I wrote this year for a book of Devotionals that our church published for the Advent season.
‘Tis the season to be busy…
There are gifts to gather, cards to create, trees to trim, food to fix, and family and friends to fuss over.
More than once, when asked what part of the season I like most, I have often replied “When it’s over”. I do not believe I am alone with that sentiment. The holiday season can be overwhelming. For that reason, I have always savored that part of the Christmas season which begins with the Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve and continues on to the first day of the New Year.
Immediately upon taking my seat in our church for the Candlelight Service, calm prevails. I am now able to cast aside the hustle and stress of the previous weeks and days, and replace that with thoughts of the simple blessings of friends and family, and the blessing of God’s gift to us, the birth of Jesus Christ. In the solemn serenity of our sanctuary, softened by candlelight, and our choir singing carols, the gifts stuffed in stockings are now replaced in my mind by, the gift of God’s love and the peace through Christ that God gave to us.
In Matthew 2:12 we are told the following about the Wise Men…”They returned to their country by another route.” The Wise Men had followed a star to Bethlehem. They had seen Mary and the Baby Jesus, but, having been warned in a dream about Herod, they took a different road back home.
After Christmas, in the winter quiet that follows, I have the time to reflect on my own route along a personal journey of faith. Do I need to take a different road? I just prepared with great vigor to celebrate the season of this thing that has happened (Luke 2:15). Now, with the gifts exchanged, and the tree put away, there is time to examine how I will make that journey for the coming year with Christ at my side and His Word to guide me. Will I use that same vigor?
Through the clamor that can accompany the Christmas season we see many displays of the love taught to us by Christ. We have witnessed gifts to charities and a helping hand extended to the sick, the needy, and to our brave wounded veterans. Is that the road I follow and lend my hand to those truly worthy endeavors? Or, do I follow a road of a renewed commitment to prayer and to the study of His Word in the Bible? Do I reach out to our church for a new direction in faith through fellowship? There is many a path before us.
In the calm hush that follows the Christmas rush, I am always reassured that God listens to us. Even in this busy season when we seek peace, we know that God gives us peace through Jesus Christ if we follow him. As I now ask God which route I should take as I prepare for a New Year, I am again confident he will listen and send me down the right road. The road a Wise Man would surely follow…