Joyful and Joy-filled: Part One

We have experienced so much joy during the Advent and Christmas seasons this year, it’s almost too much to relate, but I’ll give it a try J
We travelled to Louisiana two weeks before Christmas for the wedding of one of my two best friends, Ashli. Maggie did so well on the road trip! It took us 3 days but she could not have been a better traveller. The only issue we had was that she would not go to bed at night in the condo timeshare we were staying in. Many tearful nights, including one with my mom driving Maggie around until she fell asleep at midnight, made it a little hard, but other than that, it was a great time.

(It was awful that Maggie so disliked the condo we were in. So many tears at bedtime, which is not like her at all. She would just cling to me when I tried to lay her down. Maggie is usually the easiest child to put to bed ever, but not at that condo. The only thing we can figure is that she watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse that first night and saw the sleepover episode where Goofy tells a ‘scary’ story about the Silly Gilly Gumble, and it freaked her out once bedtime rolled around. Maggie mentioned SGG a couple of times during the week, so that’s what we think happened. Needless to say, the sleepover episode will not be replayed at our home any time soon.)

Every moment in LA was joyful – seeing friends I had not seen in years, spending time with my two best friends who are more like sisters, hugging my godsons and their grandmother (my second mama), hanging out with my mom, spending so much time with Maggie.

Most of all, watching my beautiful friend as she and her love were bound together in the Sacrament of Marriage. Ashli made a stunning bride, and I am beyond thrilled for her and Lee.

picture credit: Mary Mechler
We all worked a lot while we were there, helping Ashli with whatever she needed, driving her around as she checked things off of an every-growing to-do list, but just being there with her and Mary made it joyful.

We did have some family fun while in Louisiana. Joy! Jorde flew in Wednesday morning, and we spent that day in the French Quarter. I had not been there since I left the South in 1998, and Jorde never, so we were all excited. Maggie’s grandfather, Pop, drove over from Alabama to meet her and spend time with her, and he walked the Quarter with us.

We ate an early dinner at Pere Antoine’s, and I was so disappointed that their Monte Cristo was no longer on the menu (not so much joy). Don’t get me wrong, I had a great meal, but y’all, their Monte Cristo was to-die-for good and I was so looking forward to it. Apparently I should visit more often than every 13 years.

On our way back to the parking garage, we passed back by the St. Louis Cathedral and heard music, so we went inside and listened to the last few songs of a free Christmas jazz concert. Joy! It was so fun, and Maggie really enjoyed herself – the girl loves music! It would have been nice to attend the entire concert, but I am thankful for what we did hear.

We stopped by Café du Monde before leaving. Joy! Joy! Joy! I cannot visit the French Quarter without indulging in beignets and café au lait, no matter the time of day or night. I miss those beignets – fresh and hot with powdered sugar sticking to them. Mmmmm. So messy and good. Jorde and Maggie ate beignets for the first time and enjoyed them quite as much as I did!. I may have to try making them at home, though I doubt they will turn out the same. Atmosphere contributes so much to the experience of a meal, and Café du Monde has elevated beignet-making to an art, and I just think our Arizona kitchen is an unqualified substitute J

I miss the South, y’all. I didn’t realize how much until I was there, but it just felt so good to be there. However, I will admit that, as it was unseasonably warm up until the day of the wedding and my Arizona-acclimated body is no longer used to Southern humidity, I may or may not have been vocal about all the sweating J I invested in an $8 deodorant because I was so worried about being icky in a taffeta-ish bridesmaid dress (Secret Clinical Strength Waterproof WORKS – I’m saving it for the Mary’s wedding in May!). Of course, then the weather got cold. Figures!

I am so thankful to have been blessed with a mom who loves my friend's enough to drive across country with me and my child, a Hubby who understands how important it was for me to be in Louisiana a week before Christmas even though it meant a quite a few days apart, sister-friends who I love so much and who know me so well, family and friends who make it feel like I never left the South when we're together, travelling mercies and beautiful weather on the road (thank you, Jesus! We couldn't have asked for better!), In-Laws who generously care for our furry kiddos when our family is out of town ... our lives are truly joyful, and joy-filled!

Coming soon: the conclusion of our Christmas festivies in Joyful and Joy-filled: Part Deux