This Christmas figured to be the one where Rowan would really begin to "get it". He can identify Santa, Rudolph and Frosty, and he can say "Merry Christmas". He knows what Christmas trees are, so we decided to go out and get a real one for the first time.
As always, Tupelo featured their annual Christmas parade the first weekend in December.
And as always, Rowan loved it!
He loved it even though he had to bundle up in hat and mittens to brave the freezing cold temperatures.
Like most kids, he really likes Christmas lights, and we all enjoyed this over-the-top display in the tiny town of Cotton Plant, about half an hour from Tupelo.
The Cotton Plant Christmas display is a relatively recent phenomenom, started a couple of years ago by Steven and Christy Paul, a mid-30s couple with a couple of kids. Now it has grown to be the biggest display in northern Mississippi, with over 300 inflatable decorations. Plus they've opened up their property to the public so that gawkers can walk or drive through the labyrinth of Christmas craziness.
Of course around these parts, college football is celebrated almost as reverently as Christmas itself, especially when it comes to the rival Ole Miss Rebels and Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Christmas is also party season for us, and we got things started in Ripley with the Elliott clan, featuring Carley's mom's brother Charlie (left), sister Betty (center, sitting next to her husband Gary), and brother Bobby (center, standing).
Carley's mom with sister Betty and sister-in-law Anne.
Rowan especially loved playing with all his cousins.
They seemed to enjoy Rowan just as much as he enjoyed them!
A few days later we got together with some Lovorn family friends for their annual solstice party. This party was a big event with at least 50 people and a huge bonfire more than 10 feet tall. Here we caught up with Carley's brother Barrett and his wife Molly, whom we rarely see now that they live in Gainesville, Florida.
We wrapped up the party circuit with the annual "How Come Christmas?" party with more Lovorn family friends.
Here at the Warriners' house, the kids and grown-ups all gathered together in the living room for the annual reading of the long-lost Christmas story after which the party is named.
Thanks to Mr. Warriner and his family for the turkey gumbo and holiday cheer!
Finally it was Christmas Eve, and we got to open all those presents that were under the tree at MeMe and Papa's house! At this point Rowan had already gotten a new pair of rain boots from his Papa, and he insisted on wearing them at all times over the next couple of days.
On Christmas morning, Carley's parents, Barrett and Molly all came to our house bright and early to see what Santa had brought for Rowan.
In addition to a big talking Elmo and a toy vacuum cleaner, he got lots of puzzles, books, and toy cars and trucks, plus some cool new clothes and even some Tennessee Titans NFL gear.
Later that day we went back to MeMe and Papa's house for Christmas "dinner" (actually lunch) - turkey, ham, dressing, sweet potatoes and more. Here Rowan got to play with his buddy Vince.
Looking over the presents at the end of a long Christmas Day...
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