Dear Holly: Seeing Frozen 2 with Your Cousins During Christmas Break

3 years, 8 months.

Dear Holly,

This Christmas was very special. Not only did you have your two older cousins come to visit from California and Mississippi, but you got to see Frozen 2 with your younger cousins.

You have obviously been very excited to go see Frozen 2- and finally, it worked out for us to see it as a family… alongside your cousins. It was an ideal situation.

The funny thing is, once the movie was over and Mommy asked you what you thought of it, you responded, “I didn’t like it. I wanted the other Frozen.”

Apparently, you were under the impression you were all going to see the original Frozen movie in the theater together… despite you watching it every Saturday morning at our house!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Initiating Trampoline Football During Christmas Break

9 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

It is customary that I always keep a Nerf football in my Jeep. The main reason is it help secures the convertible roof panels when I remove them and store them in the back.

But also, you never know when you might want to throw a football around.

During Christmas break, you saw me taking the top off the Jeep and noticed the football there and asked if you could play with it.

I replied, “Of course! That’s what it’s there for!”.

You then set up a simultaneous game with your sister and cousins on the trampoline. From what I can understand, the concept was this:

As you and your older cousin Calla saw how many times you could throw the football back and forth without missing, your sister and your younger cousin tried not to fall over.

I am proud of you for initiating this game and activity!

Love,

Daddy

Hiking Gilliam Loop Trail and Pogo Ridge (9 Miles) in DeSoto State Park During Christmas 2019

Christmas 2019 was extra special in that my nephew Matt (who is in the Air Force, stationed on Mississippi) and my niece Sara (who is a school teacher in California) were able to spend the holidays with my family in Alabama.

With all the Christmas cargo we had to take down from where we actually live in Tennessee and then bring back from Alabama, my wife and I decided to take both her Hyundai Elantra and my Jeep Wrangler for the nearly 3 hour drive there.

For me, it was just an excuse to be able to serve as a Jeep tour guide during Christmas vacation. I started out by taking Matt and Sara (and their mother Jeanene) on a 23 mile drive along Little River Canyon on Christmas Eve.

And for the day after Christmas, I announced I would be heading up a 9 mile hike in a “hidden gem” of a trail in DeSoto State Park, called Gilliam Loop (which begins at Cabin 21)- or at least, my version of it.

Matt and Sara agreed to join me, with zero hesitation.

Gilliam Loop is actually a mountain biking trail, but if you know where to veer off the path, you can connect to Pogo Ridge.

Back in 1934, the Civilian Conversation Corps (known as CCC) built culverts along the trail, which runs parallel to Little River.

So it is really cool to see these 86 year-old structures still in place.

Pogo Ridge leads a crossing point of Little River itself. However, we opted not to cross through the river, which would have meant we would have had to hike the rest of the day in wet clothes.

Therefore, we took Exit 4 of the trail back to the Road 12.

When it was all said and done, we had hiked 9.25 miles in 3 hours.

Before heading back to the house, I took them by Howard’s Chapel; the church built into a giant rock, where the founding pastor’s ashes are contained.

Oh, and I failed to mention:

Christmas Week 2019 contained perfect Fall Weather, which allowed us to have this much fun!

I had the top off the Jeep the entire time, as the temperate remained in the 60s for most of the time.

It will be a Christmas I never forget!

Dear Jack: Our New Family Tradition of Visiting Bell Buckle the Weekend Before Christmas

9 years, 1 months.

Dear Jack,

As long as I’ve known Mommy, she’s always been curious about the exit on 1-24 for Bell Buckle, on the way back from Nonna and Papa’s house in Alabama as we make our way back home to Tennessee.

This year we decided to finally check it out, once Mommy found out that Bell Buckle hosts a Christmas parade on the weekends leading up to Christmas.

We enjoyed a hay ride with Santa, then got to check out the local shops in the town’s downtown area.

It was so much fun, we decided to make it a new family tradition!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Love S’mores… Maybe a Little Too Much!

3 years, 8 months.

Dear Holly,

Last weekend when our family visited Bell Buckle, Tennessee with Nonna and Papa, there was a s’mores station set up in the area as we waited for the hay ride with Santa.

I had my doubts that you would actually eat the S’mores sandwich I made you. Instead, I assumed you would just each the chocolate bar.

To my surprise, you labored over eating the whole thing; as it was much, much bigger than your little mouth.

You were still finishing it off once we got to the hay ride; as seen in the family photo of us, where your mouth is wide open and you are clutching the s’mores in your hand.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your New Christmas Lights for Your Bed

3 years, 7 months.

Dear Holly,

Last weekend, Mommy surprised you by decorating your bed with some rainbow Christmas lights!

You are so proud to go to bed each night, under the festive glow.

I’m not sure how that coincides with your bed sheets you currently have, which are covered in poop emojis.

But to you, it makes perfect sense.

Actually, I have a feeling it’s going to be difficult to convince you to get rid of these lights once Christmas is over.

I guess we’ll have to revisit this topic here in a few weeks, or maybe next year!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Making Blankets and Diapers from Kleenex

3 years, 7 months.

Dear Holly,

With Christmas coming up in just a few weeks, I have a feeling you’re going to be all about the baby dolls.

This past weekend when we returned from our Thanksgiving trip to Alabama, Mommy and I noticed you quietly entertaining yourself on the far side of the living room.

You discretely discovered a travel pack of Kleenex from one of the suitcases and decided that a few of the tissues would make the perfect sized blanket for one of your small baby dolls.

Then you determined that it was time to change the baby’s diapers, so you made her a new diaper with a few more of the tissues.

I know you are going to love any new baby dolls you get this year for Christmas!

Love,

Daddy