It was a different kind of Christmas this year. I made the long drive to Arkansas but this time, instead of going to Russellville, I drove to Bentonville and spent a day and a half with my youngest son Will and my daughter-in-law Erica. We had a great time together before I left Christmas Eve afternoon for the drive down to Russellville.
For the past 12 years since Linda and I got a divorce, I've always stayed with her over the Christmas holiday and was invited to do that again but since she was getting married a week later, I thought that wouldn't be the prudent thing to do. Michael, my middle son, is working at Hastings Books and Records while he's working on his master's degree so I drove in to his place of work and piddled around until the store closed. Then I went out to his house to spend the next couple of days with him and his family.
We had a great time with each other. I was a little leery because they have eight dogs, but they all seemed to like me so it didn't turn out to be a problem. Dogs and babies have always liked me so I must have some redeeming qualities. I gave everyone their gifts on Christmas Eve and then on Christmas day, Michael's wife Nicki cooked a wonderful meal for us. I have to say that I was a bit melancholy on Christmas morning because for 36 years, I had spent Christmas day with my immediate family, so this felt really different. As it turned out, Nicki told me that Linda was coming over, too, and she did so I had the 37th and final Christmas dinner with her and at least one of our children before she was to be married a week later.
And that was OK. Everybody needs to find happiness wherever they can and I wish her and her new husband a wonderful life together. Time moves on and people and their emotions
move on too. That's obviously what she needs right now and I'm glad she's found someone to share her life with.
I left the following morning to meet Will and his wife back in Bentonville after they had spent Christmas with her family in Ponca City, Oklahoma. We went to a movie and then had dinner at the AQ Chicken House in Springdale where I used to eat a lot when I was attending the University of Arkansas. Nothing's changed in all those years and all of us enjoyed our meals.
Will and Erica both had to work the next morning so I got up about the same time Will did and headed back to Nebraska. It was really a wonderful Christmas experience, although totally different from any I had had in a long time. And, like Dorothy says in the Wizard of Oz, "There's no place like home." Wherever we go and whoever we're with, it's always good to get back to your familiar place.
I got back to McCook Monday night and on Tuesday, I was invited to a wonderful get-together hosted by Matt and Lois Stebbins at their home on the golf course, adjacent to the Coppermill.
It was a Rotary club-only party and the food that was served, along with the camaraderie of good friends, was a rewarding experience. In addition to the food on the main floor of their home, a dessert bar was set up in the basement and manned by Margeux Theiller, an exchange student from France who prepared all of it and both her and the food were absolutely delightful. It's always amazing to me to see the maturity, grace, and charm in some young people and wonder why they can't all be like that. Margeux is currently living with Doug and Sherry Skiles and will be returning home at the end of the year.
So all in all, it was a very different but enjoyable Christmas season and now it's almost time to go back to teaching. I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas too and wish that you have an exciting and prosperous New Year as well.