The email read that this would be the last Christmas. The last Christmas at my Uncle Don and Aunt Shirley's house on Bonnie Brae Court. For more than thirty years those walls have been our family hub. How many times have I walked in those front doors? How many times has Aunt Shirley left me a note that read, There's a pot of stew on the stove. Make yourself at home! How many memories...?
The brick house has been a constant in my life. A shelter in the storm, a beacon in the dark. Home.
I remember... waiting anxiously for my daddy to come home from work on Christmas Eve. All seven of us cramming into the station wagon with goodies and presents (and one year a puppy). Driving through Ashby's Gap on the "tummy tickers" and counting the seconds until we pulled into their driveway. Shedding our coats, hugging our uncles and grabbing one of our favorite cousins. A fire roaring in the fireplace, and always a big crooked tree. We'd grab a cookie or two and race to the basement. Hide and seek was, and still is, a yearly tradition.
I remember... visits from my grandparents. Once or twice a year during my childhood Granny and Grandpa would visit us from Amarillo. We would usually gather the Sunday after their arrival. A bear hug from Grandpa and a Sugar, you sure have grown! from Gran. The aunts in the kitchen, cooking and serving. The uncles in the dining room teasing the aunts. The grown-ups sitting around the table for hours visiting, eating, and laughing.
I remember... camping out on the living room floor the night before our last big trip to Texas. Dad enjoying the sweet days of his second wind.
I remember... the Thanksgiving when the house brimmed with Forresters from all over the country. Gathering to thank our Lord for a son, a brother, an uncle, a husband, my precious dad. I must never forget that we did not grieve alone.
I remember... feeling lost and rather homeless. Declaring my independence at eighteen only because my aunt and uncle agreed to feed and shelter me. Sitting around their kitchen table in the evenings. Listening to the banter between my uncle and his grown sons. Soaking in their love, God healing my heart. Thinking that maybe I'd like to be a pastor's wife, just like my Aunt Shirley.
I remember... carrying our newborn son through the front door, so proud to show him off. This house has welcomed all five of my babies, but not just mine. How many?? Let me take a minute to count. Could it be? Do we grandchildren really have 42 babies among us? Unbelievable! And the count is far from over....
I will remember... to never forget. I will this Christmas: hug the necks of my lovely aunts, uncles, cousins, and sisters, laugh loudly at the jokes, inhale the sweet baby breath of little Saul and linger at good-bye.
God is good. He has been so good to me.
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15