I rang in the New Year in the most unlikely place…
Christmas morning, at approximately 12:30a.m., Trey and I hit the open road and headed to Birmingham, AL in order to catch our flight to Austin, TX, where we would be chaufeured (by Trey’s dad) to San Antonio, TX to spend the week with Trey’s entire immediate family for the first time in 3 years. Sure, we’ve seen them all more recently than that, but this was the first time all 15 of us have been together since New Year’s 2008 at Disney World. And even then, Makayla was a few months shy of making her debut to the world.
This trip also marked the first time I truly felt like I was part of the gang. Back in ’08 I was still trying to remember everyone’s name and whose kids were whose. The few times we’ve seen the family since then have been so brief that it was utter chaos and then over before we could sit down and take a breath.
This was the first time I really felt like Aunt Leslie. And I loved every minute of it. Whether it was giving piggy-back rides up the stairs or playing Candyland or putt-putt or the Wii, or swimming, or watching tv, or singing silly songs in the car, I was playing my part as Fun Aunt Leslie and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Of all the wonderful things that happened on this particular trip, the best was this…
I fell in love.
Somewhere between the piggy-back rides and singing Silent Night as softly as I could into Makayla’s ear, I fell completely in love with our youngest neice. Because, while I already knew and loved each of the other kids, this was the first time I got to really spend time with 2 year old Mak. And she is completely and utterly delightful.
She would curl up in my lap and when she would get bored or decide she wanted to go play, she’d slide to the ground, look up and put her hands on my cheeks and say, “I coming back!” Tell me that wouldn’t melt your heart.
On New Year’s Eve, the whole family gathered for a night of poker (the Hendon’s are nothing if not Texas Hold ’em enthusiasts). Around 11:30 we could hear the fireworks going off around the neighborhood so we ran upstairs and turned out the lights to get the best view from the second story windows. I picked up Makayla so she could see the fireworks. When they were all over, I tried to leave our perch by the window but Makayla would have none of it. I’d tell her that the fireworks were over, that I didn’t see any more. “I do see them,” she would proclaim. “I do see them!”
When I finally pulled her away from the window, I sat down on the 0ttoman upstairs and sang Silent Night in her ear and she slowly drifted off to sleep. It’s amazing the kind of deep love that just sweeps over you when a child falls asleep in your arms.
I rang in the New Year in the most unlikely place…sitting on an ottoman in San Antonio rocking my neice to sleep. And that perfect plump little lump of blond hair and blue eyes completely captured my heart.
I cannot wait to go back to San Antonio.