December 31, 2005

Christmas at the Showalters I got to Virginia Sunday morning (Christmas Day) around 1:00am.  I got fairly sleepy during the drive and had to pull off and nap a time or two which is why it was as late (or early) as it was.  By the time I got there I was thrilled to jump in bed with my missing wife....  We slept in a little in the morning then got ready for church at Mt. Pleasant.  Benjamin still wasn't feeling very good so Papa & Mother stayed home with him.  Bro. Elvin Shank had the message.  When we got home Mother served us a delicious Christmas meal of soup, sandwiches & lots of other tidbits.  Robert & Marsha's hired man, Josh Sprouse joined us for lunch. 
Papa, doing his Irish impression... After dinner we had our gift exchange.  We were thrilled to be recipients of an electric knife & a cover for our Kitchen Aid mixer bowl.  Carolina got some really nice toys which made her happy.  After the gift exchange the ladies started things going for our fondue feast.  Shrimp, steak, chicken, mushrooms, cheese and much more were dipped in batter, hot oil or chicken broth to cook.  Since we had quite a few people and only two fondue pots we were able to enjoy quite a long drawn out supper together.
Ina Sue made the granddaughters three matching dresses. We got up Monday morning and Ina Sue made some reuben dip for the get-together while I got Carolina Sue bathed & ready.  We stopped in to see Grossmommy Alma before going on to the Montezuma Hall for lunch with the Ed Showalter family (Papa's side).  We had a nice time visiting & eating with the relatives then went home for a quick nap before the evening festivities.  We dropped by Victor & Dina Moroz' beautiful new house to see them for a visit before supper.  Victor was a Ukrainian immigrant who spent quite a bit of time at Ina Sue's home when she was a teenager.  We had a really nice time with them but had to leave to go to the Warren Showalter get-together.  This one was at the Hickory Hollow school and was a carry-in of finger foods.  Delicious!  We enjoyed the time with Aunts, Uncles & Cousins.  A very nice day but very full.
Victor & Dina Moroz Mother Showalter made us a wonderful breakfast of cheesy egg bake Tuesday morning then we packed things up for the trip back to SC.  We were able to leave by around 9:00.  Because we stopped and shopped at Carolina Pottery for about an hour we didn't make it home until a little after 5:00.  Unpacking was quite a job but otherwise we had a restful evening.
Carolina found a friend in Bonnie. Ina Sue had hordes & hordes (her words) of wash to do on Wednesday.  I had a very big day at work as well.  When I take off a day or two I usually pay for it when I get back.  Bonnie Brubaker dropped by to see Ina Sue during the afternoon so we invited her to stay and also invited Richard to come over for a pizza supper.  Had a nice time visiting over our supper then they had to leave soon after.
Duane's Birthday on Thursday. Ina Sue was still busy finishing up the wash on Thursday morning.  I spent the day rushing here and there trying to get everyone taken care of.  I never even made it into the shop all day long.  I had to stay until about 6:30 helping a customer with a crashed server.  Thankfully, I was able to get away and rushed home in time for all of us to go over to Duane Bange's for his & Wyatt's birthday celebration.  Some of his family put on a very nice drop-in/light supper party for his friends to pay their respects.  Had a good time there then came home & I grilled 18 lbs of boneless skinless chicken thighs for the freezer.  (Ina Sue had bought them up in Virginia at a very good price)
Grilling chicken thighs at 11:00pm. I went in to work at 6:30 Friday morning in order to finish the crashed server project.  The day never slowed down from there.  Thankfully, things were pretty much wrapped up by 6:30 when Ina Sue met me at the shop and we left for Hartwell, Ga.  We stopped in Augusta for a fast supper and arrived at the Hartwell Mennonite Center around 10:00.  Galen Schrock was already there so we talked with him for a while then and I started hooking up the phone system & computer I had brought up.  (I've gone up to the Bible School for about the last 8 years to hook up the phones & to make sure everything is working right)  We wanted to leave in good time Saturday so I worked until after 12:00 trying to get as much done as I could.
Dad & Mom with their 15 grandchildren (Click on picture to enlarge) I got up at 6:30 Saturday morning to finish up my projects.  Ina Sue and Carolina slept in until about 8:00.  By 9:00 all the phones were working, the bells were programmed and the PA worked.  We quick packed up and were on the road by 9:30.  We drove to Hephzibah where my family was already meeting for our Christmas celebration at Dads.  Mother fixed one of my favorite meals for the whole crowd.  If you have never had hog-maw (stuffed pig stomach) you are missing out on a true culinary delight...  Here is a recipe if you want to give it a try.  Along with the centerpiece she also served up a bowl of creamy herb vegetables (peas, carrots & onions), collard greens, lima beans, rolls, pickles, jello salad, mince meat  & pecan pies, and homemade candy.
A true delicacy for dinner:  Hog Maw Us guys kept tradition and did the dishes after dinner.  Then we all gathered in the living room for Christmas carols, family business and announcements (We announced that we are expecting a new sibling for Carolina in July)  After some gift giving Milton treated us to another Strite Christmas tradition: Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel sung Swahili style.  Always a big hit....  We all payed some Catchphrase together and visited then we left for home around 5:00.  We had to pick up my car from the shop so I did a little grocery shopping while Ina Sue brought Carolina Sue home and started unloading the van.  For supper I fixed us a batch of guacamole from fresh avocados.  We had a fairly relaxed evening.  Ina Sue is in bed while I wait in the New Year.  I'm too wake her up when it's time.  Happy New Year to all our friends and family!
The fellows kept up the tradition of doing the dinner dishes.... Carolina Sue opens her gift from Granddads

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