Well, we made it back to Colorado. Our drive back was uneventful, thank God. We left Rochester around 9:15 AM and drove into our driveway in Wheat Ridge around 9:55 PM. Not bad.
I always feel weird saying we’re “back home” because in my mind, it’s an enigma. I feel like Minnesota is home. When people asked me about my plans for Christmas, I always said “We’re going back home to Minnesota.” But then, when we drive back to Colorado, we’re coming back to the place we live 50 weeks out of the year. We own a house here. We have jobs here. Our church is here. We have good friends here. It has definitely become more familiar and comfortable to live out here but I don’t know if it necessarily feels like home…or if it ever will feel that way.
Anyway, for our last few days in MN, Travis and I hung out with my family in Rochester, where I grew up. I hadn’t been back in about a year and a half, on account of Travis’ cat allergy (last year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas were celebrated at my parents’ cabin in Pine City, MN). But this year was supposed to be different. Travis had gotten acupuncture treatment for his cat allergy and the doctor had proclaimed at his last checkup that Travis was cured. Well, he wasn’t. His allergy is still there. It may be slightly weaker but nonetheless, we were forced to retreat to the Extended Stay America instead of the nice, cozy, queen bed downstairs.
Friday night, after Travis and I arrived in Rochester, my whole family (minus Jeremy and Jen, who couldn’t come up because of Jen’s new job) ate dinner and watched Wall-E. I think that is such a cute movie. Wall-E has cute, little puppy dog eyes. Waaaaaalllllleeeee!!!
Saturday, we had breakfast around 9:30, then opened presents (I got a new 4.5 quart saucepan!), and then went to see Seven Pounds at the theater. That was a good movie. It was all I could do to not break down sobbing at the end. So sad. Travis and I were talking about it later…the movie really illustrates humanity’s desire (and need) for a Savior. [Warning: spoiler.] Tim (Will Smith) gives his life, organs, and house to help 7 people as a way to repay the 7 deaths he caused (including that of his fiancee) in a car accident. At once, his ultimate decision seems both selfless and selfish. Selfless because he’s voluntarily giving up his possessions and even his life to help random people (who he has proven are “worthy” because they are “good people”). Selfish because the decisions are motivated by his own personal guilt. He gives his life to save 7 others’–but only after he first destroyed 7 in the first place.
It’s a wonderful, heart-wrenching story, really. But it made me think about how much more amazing the true gospel is. Jesus didn’t do anything wrong. There was absolutely no reason why He should even think twice about dying for us to have life. And yet, He did. Moreover, Jesus didn’t prove that we were essentially good people. In fact, we’re the very opposite of good. We’re depraved. We’re children of wrath. We can’t do and don’t do anything right or good on our own merits. Like it says in Isaiah 64, our good deeds are like filthy rags to God. But still, Jesus died for us. He died that we may have life. And while for Emily (Rosario Dawson) in Seven Pounds, the gift of life meant not being able to spend that life with her love, Tim, we in Christ not only have life but life with Christ. He is risen and alive. That was the purpose of His death and resurrection: so that we could be with Him in heaven forever.
Anyway, I would definitely recommend seeing that movie. After the movie, we dropped Travis off at the hotel so that he could rest in a cat-free environment and the rest of us went to the house and played Chickenfoot with dominoes–a very fun game might I add (especially with my family, who gets all riled up when someone thwarts their strategy). Then we picked Travis back up and drove to Mantorville to eat dinner at the historic Hubbell House. Very cool. I love seeing pictures and reading about people who lived hundreds of years ago. Ulysses S. Grant and Charles Mayo are 2 of the many famous people who have eaten there. But if you ever go there, though, don’t get a salad. They’re nothing to talk about.
Sunday morning, after a quick breakfast at Panera with the fam, Travis and I started the long journey back to Colorado. And so ended our Christmas Vacation. It went by so fast and it was felt very different not spending Christmas Eve with my family, doing our traditions of fondue, present opening, and the candlelight service at our church. But alas, getting older means letting go of things you used to do and people you used to see. Life moves on.
I would be sad that our vacation is over and that we’re back in Colorado without our families if it weren’t for our upcoming trip to Puerto Vallarta in March. My parents’ Christmas presents to all of us kids (and signficant others) was a weeklong stay at the all-inclusive Vallarta Palace. We just have to pay for our own airfare, which Travis and I did yesterday. We were able to find tickets for about $500 a person out of Denver, which is a lot better than flying out of Minneapolis–tickets out of there are more like $700 a piece! Yowsa! My parents, 3 brothers, and their wives/girlfriend are all going, as well as my uncle, aunt, and their 3 sons. A big, fun-loving group! I can hardly wait.
Our upcoming Mexico vacation and the overabundance (and overconsumption!) of Christmas cookies and sugary treats have led Travis and I to a sort of detox plan: we can’t eat sweets (chocolate, ice cream, donuts, candy, cake, bars, etc) or drink soda until we are sitting on the beach in Mexico, with a waiter asking us what kind of free alcoholic beverage we would like to sip while watching the dolphins swim through silver hoops. If you remember, I have been trying to limit my sweets intake for the past several months but to no avail. Finally, Travis has agreed to do it with me (and in fact, it was his idea!) so I think this time it will work. I can let myself down, but I can’t let Travis down. We’re also going to keep each other accountable for exercising at least 3 times a week (I’m shooting for 6 days a week but realize that may not always be possible). Travis also wants to learn about portion sizes so that he knows how much he is eating (I can tell you right now that he eats about 3 servings of cereal for breakfast and about 2.5 servings of pasta when we have it for dinner).
Here’s to a healthy 2009 and 2 Mexico-ready bodies by March 15th!!! Wish us luck!