Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas With the Koepkes

We flew to Portland early yesterday morning to spend Christmas Day (and the next several days) with Mark's family - his mother, two sisters, a brother-in-law, and quite a few nieces and nephews from two generations. In this picture, above, Mark is sitting with his sister Deb with Deb's granddaughter, Heidi, on his lap.

Deb's "Christmas Vacation" Moose Punch Bowl Set. I had to ask about it. Deb couldn't believe I've never seen National Lampoon's "Christmas Vacation" - a situation she quickly set out to remedy.

Mark's two sisters, caught making Mai Tais in the pantry

We had a wonderful Christmas dinner featuring prime rib that Neil, Mark's brother-in-law, had cooked on his Traeger grill and a beautiful "Christmas Salad" made by his sister, Sarah. Lots and lots of presents to be unwrapped, followed by wrapping paper wars among the grandkids. It was a fun afternoon.

This will be our last trip: traveling has become too difficult for Mark. As it is, yesterday was a somewhat grueling day for him. But it is fitting that we have come here to be with Mark's family to celebrate this last Christmas. It's something - this "lastness" - that we haven't focused on these past few weeks, yet we've known it was there. We both decided some time ago that we weren't going to focus on it because doing so would rob us of the moment. No efforts to make things "special." Just here, now.

It hasn't always been easy, and there have been moments, hours, days, when it's just been depressing and utterly sad. But, thankfully, those times pass and peace returns. I'm grateful for that. I'm also grateful for those magical moments when laughter vacates the sadness and I (later) realize that those moments will become magical memories.

The Christmas Full Moon. I was a sophomore at the University of Illinois
when the last one occurred in 1977.

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