>Wish We Were There

>Here’s a new spin on those postcards people send with pictures of themselves in a tropical paradise that say, “wish you were here”—our 2008 Christmas cards are going out just in time for New Year’s, and I think the message should read, “wish we were there!” Here’s the artwork on the card. Yep. Mr. and Mrs. Claus have got the right idea for post-Christmas recovery… margaritas on the beach at sunset. And it looks like Mrs. Claus took some time out for a pedicure and some hat shopping. And neither of them are worrying about silly New Year’s resolutions about exercising and losing weight. Now that looks like paradise.

For those who have been worried about my blog addiction, I am proud to report that I have stayed away from the blog for five days—that’s a record! If you follow the progression of events and photos posted here, you’ll understand that it wasn’t really hard to stay away. Every minute was scheduled up. Let’s take it a day at a time:

Christmas Eve Day
Stacy and Jared Autrey visited from Nashville with their precious daughter, Olivia Kate. Stacy is one of my Goddaughters, and she and Jared have been good friends of our son, Jon, for many years. It was great being together, if only for a short visit.

Olilvia Kate has obviously learned to kiss… and enjoyed practicing on Father Basil!

Christmas Day

Jason and his new bride, See, arrived from Denver at 8:30 a.m. on Christmas morning! I prepared with the usual Cushman traditions, like caramelizing the coffee mugs (dipping the tops of the mugs into sugar which has been melted in a cast iron skillet)

and making mimosas and hiding the pickle.

We’ve been hiding the pickle ornament in the tree on Christmas Eve for years… and its seems like Jon, Jason and Beth have pretty much taken turns finding it—not because they aren’t competitive! It’s just worked out that way. We always have an extra gift for the finder of the pickle. So, this year, our tree is tiny tiny tiny (pre-lit but no ornaments, until Beth put candy canes on it)… so we explained the tradition to See, and all four “kids” rushed at the tree, searching for the pickle.

After a few minutes I said, “you guys need to think outside the box.” That was about the same time Jason was making a dash for the other tree… an even smaller one in the front hall. And there it was!

Here are the kids with Jason holding the pickle, and the pickle gift. This year it was a copy of the New York Times #1 best-seller: Outliers. I liked Gladwell’s other books (Blink and The Tipping Point) and figured any of our kids would appreciate a book about how to be successful. We also gave all the kids there very own pickle ornaments this year, to continue the tradition with future generations.
Breakfast was next, and then stockings and presents.

As usual, there were lots of “gadgets” involved… including my new pea green wireless mouse, Mio Moov (GPS) system, and a small portable printer for when I’m traveling. There were gadgets related to iPods and also cappuccino makers (for Jon, the new home owner). All the girls were happy with artsy new jewelry and Beth got enough books to read 24/7 until she goes back to grad school. Money gifts for the newlyweds new apartment (we really couldn’t expect them to carry furniture back to Denver on the plane) and fancy wine and wine openers rounded out the goodies.

Jon Autrey joined us for our traditional Christmas lunch: Honeybaked Ham, Aunt Barbara Jo’s Dressing (the best!), Sweet Potato Casserole, Marinated Green Bean Casserole, Rice and Gravy, Rolls, and Pecan Pie with Ice Cream. Yum!

Kevin came by later with a fancy architectural 3-D puzzle for Beth, and of course we put him to work on various computer problems that are always around. (He’s a computer engineer.) We ended the day with a Scrabble game and pleasant food comas and football games on tv. Actually, that’s kinda’ how the past few days have felt!

December 26

The next day we piled into two cars and headed down to Jackson, Mississippi, to visit Granny Effie at Lakeland Nursing Home. (Jon would be leaving from there to head back to Savannah.)

I’m not sure if Mom really knew all her grandkids or not, but she loved the visit and seemed to understand that See was new, whether or not her Alzheimer’s kept her from getting the concept that Jason was married. Or that they would be providing her with her first great-grandchild next July!

We visited in the lobby of the nursing home, where she opened gifts and enjoyed the comings and goings of other visitors.

And posed for group pictures… I’m always wondering which year will be the last, so each year has its own special meaning.

December 27

Saturday was sight-seeing day… showing See around Memphis, mainly Harbor Town, South Main, the Elvis statue, and Beale Street. But it was also “spa day” for the girls… with See getting a haircut, and Beth and See getting manicures and pedicures while Mom and Jason shopped at Oak Court Mall. Somewhere in there we found time for a Scrabble game that ended badly for everyone but Beth, and polished off the evening at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. I don’t remember how we made it home….

December 28

Sunday night we celebrated Jason and See’s marriage at a lovely party hosted by dear friends from St. John church. (Hostesses Reem Mansour, Pamela Mashburn and Deb Mashburn at right.) I know I’m a writer, but in this case I really do think the pictures will speak better than words. When I wasn’t busy enjoying the amazing food and wine, or the company of so many people I love, I played photographer, catching some candid shots but also “posing” groups like they were going to be in RSVP Magazine or something. Lots of fun was had by all, and it was such a joy to introduce See to so many people who welcomed her with love.

Or with stories about Jason, like Father Troy was telling here!

Enjoy the photos! Maybe I’ll be back before New Years’s… but probably not, so Happy New Years!

See is welcomed by our hosts’ five-year-old daughter, Sophie, who is also one of my Goddaughters.
And Isabelle and Sophie give Jason some “new daddy practice” during the party.

Sarah and Joel Finley are in town from Nashville…

and enjoyed catching up with Peter McKelroy and his fiance, from Laurel, Mississippi.
Jason reunited with childhood friends, Nicholas Henderson (from Jackson, Mississippi), and Memphians Tim Elliott and Jon Autrey, both also formerly from Jackson.

I found John McGee in the kitchen with Jason’s friend from school days in Memphis, Brian Edmondson …

along with Jason and Beth’s friend from the University of Tennessee, Kevin Davis of Bartlett, visiting with hosts, Deb and Tim Mashburn…

I had lots of funs with girfriends: Reem Mansour, and Lori O’Brien and Margaret McKelroy….

And Goddaughters Hannah Snowden and Katherine Thames bond with my daughter-in-law, See…
Nancy McGee and Deacon James Elliott catch up with Troy Mashburn, home for the holidays from grad school in Boston…

Matthew and Hannah conspire with Katherine and Hardy Thames to change the world, one child, book, painting, song, or sociological idea at a time….

We enjouyed lots of laughs with See throughout the evening…

After a delicious meal, the crowd gathered in the dining room for cake cutting…

which I tried to capture from several angles…

It was a wonderful night. This afternoon Jason and See flew home to Denver with an extra suitcase for their new clothes and wedding and Christmas gifts, and hearts full of gratitude for this outpouring of love. Thanks to the hosts and hostesses and friends who came to celebrate their marriage!

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