Christmas set-up at my families house was never exactly a “fun” experience. My mom is a perfectionist and my dad is what you would call an Eeyore. The tree that my parents have is from the early 90’s and you have to stick every branch into the truck of the tree instead of the new trees that just fold out all at once mostly set-up and maybe even pre-strung with lights. Anyways, its was always a 3-4-hour process and mom might not even let us touch some of the ornaments, so like a said not fun. My mother normally bought her decorations at fancy stores like Silks a Bloom, and Dillards. On the other hand, the Hollaway family LOVES set-up for Christmas and continues to do it together even after some of them have moved away. They have two trees, a kid friendly tree and a fancy tree for the window. It’s also a pretty speedy process because they are ten people helping decorate and there is no rhyme or reason to how the ornaments are to be put on. Most of their ornaments have some sentimental value more than monetary value. For instance, they have ornaments from each child’s pre-school days, vacations, baby photos, and a few just fun or delicate ones. While they set up they play Christmas music and eat leftovers from Thanksgiving. They past two years I had the privilege to just be able to sit back and watch them have fun.
After watching the Hollaway family having some much fun setting up for Christmas this year, Ben and I decided we wanted to set-up our little house for Christmas as well. So, we bought a $30 Black Friday deal tree from Target and gathered the Christmas décor I had been given as part of my wedding gift and we headed home. Ben set-up the tree and I baked chocolate chip cookies and poured champagne. After this I walked into the din to discover that our $30 tree was pre-lit with multicolor lights. So, Ben graciously went to the store got white lights and then came home and we unlit a pre-lit tree and then relit it! It was all worth it. We put all our pretty ornaments on the tree and stuck our awkwardly large angle on top. While we decorated we listened to a Spotify Christmas playlist and watched White Christmas. All around a wonderful evening full of laughter, smiles, and Christmas cheer.
This year is the first time Ben and I have had to figure out how to work around family holidays. Basically, we have worked it out that one year we will be with one family on thanksgiving and one family on Christmas. This is all good in theory, but it is hard not being with you family on a holiday. Anyways, we worked through that and had Thanksgiving lunch with my family. I got to help cook deserts and casseroles. We enjoyed time with my extended family. After lunch, cleanup and relaxing we headed over to Ben’s family’s house for left overs and chatting until it was time to start Black Friday Shopping. The first place we hit was the Outlets of Little Rock where we shopped at the Lucky Brand store, Express, Nike, J.Jill, Gap, Sketchers, and Old Navy. Although the parking lot was packed out the outlets themselves did not feel particularly crazy. I guess it was because everyone could spread out across many stores. After the outlets we headed to Walmart. Once at Walmart, my brother-in-laws girlfriend found out her sister was in labor. So my brother-in-law took her to the hospital to be there for her sister while the rest of us wondered around Walmart looking at all the interesting things at Walmart at 1am. After Walmart, we all headed back to the Hollaway house to get a few hours of sleep before the shopping started again. We got back on the road at 6am and went to Target and the Park Plaza Mall. After we were done at those two stores we went to my sister-in-laws apartment which is in the Target parking lot to have brunch. After bunch we headed back to the mall to get one more gift and then went to the Promenade at Chenal and Pet’s Smart. After all this shopping we went back to the Hollaway’s for a power nap and decorating their Christmas trees. All in all a wild, but wonderful 48 hours.
My dad is a dam Engineer for the Corp of Engineers out of Little Rock. His job involves design structures to be added to dams, inspecting dams for damage, and repairing damaged or old parts of dams. On Friday of last week my dad took me on a tour of the Lake Dardanelle Lock and Dam. It was really interesting to get to learn more about what a dam does and how it works. First of all I found out that there are two gates that make up the lock. These gates allow a barge to pass through the other side of the lock and dam. This may seem like a simply thing, think again. The gates are only about five feet wider that the barge on either side. Because it is a tight squeeze sending a barge through a lock is about a two hour process. First the come through the first gate and crew members have to jump to onto laters on the lock to then tie off the barge within the two gates. Once in the gates the water level is brought down to match the lower level of water on the other side of the second gate so the barge doesn’t shoot through the gate when opened like a roller coster. Once the water is lowered the second gate it opened the barge can make its way through the final gate back out on open water. Other than the lock the site has a dam that holds back water at a high level making Lake Dardanelle an excellent place for fishing and a hydropower house that uses the power of water to create electricity which is then sold to a power grid and then runs Russellville electricity. It was so much fun to get to see my dad “in his element” and learn how a lock and dam functions and the benefits it provided.
Well I never thought that Fort Smith Arkansas would be an option for me as a place to live until now. Last summer Ben had the opportunity to work for a trucking company, that is based out of Fort Smith, as an annalist intern. He ended up loving the internship and decided that he would at least consider a job offer if one was presented to him. However, thought the internship he did show any interest in living in Fort Smith and I had never been there and had high hopes to move to a big city like Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Charlotte, or Charleston. Ben knew that the company was considering him for a full-time position so we decided to have a date night in Fort Smith. We went to Bricktown Brewery and had specialty burgers and beer. My burger was called the breakfast burger and I would highly recommend it. The burger came stacked with hash browns, fried egg, bacon, burger patty, a chipolata sauce, and bun. Ben had a bacon ranch burger. After dinner Ben drove me around Fort Smith. He showed me neighborhoods that are close to the office he would be working at, shopping options, and the companies building. Lastly, we stopped at an ice cream parlor for a desert on the way home. We ended up liking the town far more than we had anticipated. We thought the town had a safe and welcoming feel and was full of young married couples much like ourselves. We were greatly encouraged by our visit and when the offer came a week later we were very excited. Although we still are looking in larger cities to compare our options Fort Smith has made it on our top three list. We have until mid December to decide where we will end up. Pray God gives us clear direction on where to go. We want to be somewhere that we can both have a career that we love as well as a place that we can be used for the Kingdom of God.
P.S. There is an event company out of Springdale Arkansas which is about forty-five minutes away from Fort Smith that I am interested in working for called KFB Events. Hoping a door opens up for me in the event world.
Bricktown Brewery: http://www.bricktownbrewery.com/fortsmith/
KFB Events: http://kfbevents.com/