Christmas 2014

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this Christmas seemed a bit odd and low key compared to previous years. 2014 has been a year of transitions and Christmas reflected that fact in many ways. Taylor was in France and Madison was flying the friendly skies and enjoying a layover with Uncle Terry, Aunt Bonnie, and Ellie. With nine weeks to moving, our decorations at Vander Well Manor were minimal and Wendy and I opted to forego gifts as we have a lot of “gifts” to buy for our new house.

Madison was home briefly the week before Christmas, and that kicked off our holiday gatherings. The Vander Well and Keithley clans got together for a pizza party at Grandpa Dean and Grandma Jeanne’s.

Christmas Eve we headed to Ankeny in the afternoon with Grandma and Suzanna. Wendy and I dropped the ladies off at mom and dad Hall’s and then met up with our friends Dave and Maria who were visiting from Grand Rapids. Back to the Hall’s we enjoyed a wonderful “Iowa soul food” meal of roast from the crock pot, mashed potatoes, gravy and homemade bread. Christmas goodies were abundant for dessert. It was a small crowd. Beside Wendy and Suzanna, Lucas was the only other sibling to join us. Becky and Courtney joined us for a FaceTime session with baby Lydia. We had the gift exchange after dinner and enjoyed a quiet evening swapping family stories and enjoying each other’s company. Wendy, Suzanna, and I headed back to Pella late that evening.

Christmas morning in Pella was quiet for the three of us. We made our traditional Christmas breakfast and enjoyed it together before exchanging gifts. By late morning, Wendy and I had packed up a crock pot of French Dip beef and two bottles of wine, and headed to Des Moines for lunch with the Vander Wells. Suzanna headed back to Ankeny to spend Christmas day with her folks. On the way to Des Moines we spoke to Madison who was still celebrating with Uncle Terry and Aunt Bonnie. She had a wonderful time with them and we were so happy to know she could spend Christmas Eve and morning with family.


Sam and Emma were the only grandkids present for Christmas at the VWs this year, but Sam arrived with his girlfriend, Lydia, who added extra energy to our family gathering. We enjoyed a laid-back lunch before heading downstairs for the gift exchange, which then led to family games. Taylor called on FaceTime from France and the whole family got to grill her about her experiences across the pond. By late afternoon, Wendy and I were feeling really tired. I had been up at 2:30 a.m. to turn on the slow cooker and never really got back to sleep. Wendy and I headed home and hung on to consciousness as long as possible, finally heading to bed around 9:30. Goodness, I feel old typing that.

Saturday was our final family gathering. It was back to Ankeny to celebrate with the Vander Hart crew, once again at mom and dad Hall’s. Plenty of food and Christmas treats to spare for the small gathering. Grandma Vander Hart had been staying there since we brought her up on Christmas Eve day. Deb and Doug, along with Brad, were the only VH siblings to join us. Suzanna, Wendy, Nicole, and Brant were the grandkids present. Brant and Amy’s kids Addy and Clayton provided equilibrium to the generational curve.

Now we turn our attention to the New Year as Wendy and I prepare to celebrate our 9th anniversary!


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