Wednesday, December 28

::Christmas at The Homestead::

This year we spent Christmas at a magical place - The Homestead in Hot Springs, VA. Cannon's side of the family joined us there and Parrish had a blast with all of his cousins. The Homestead is a place that has a little something for everyone. Skiing, ice skating, indoor bowling alley, movie theatre, carriage rides, hay rides, smores, horse back riding, visits with Santa, and of course yummy food. The list goes on and on.
We met people there that have been spending Christmas there for the last 30 years and are on a first-name basis with the staff. It was unseasonably warm while we were there, so we didn't have a white Christmas, but it was cold enough for them to blow a little snow. Parrish learned to turn and stop on his skis in an hour! That's more than he learned in two days at Vail ski school last winter. I think his age and the one-on-one really helped this time.
On Christmas Eve we took a family hay ride around the grounds. There are beautiful, old Southern homes surrounding the property, but otherwise, it is in the middle of no where. We rode up to the ski lodge and had hot chocolate and smores. It was a wonderful way to spend Christmas eve. After the festivities died down is when I always got sad missing Olivia and wishing I was laying her toys out with Parrish's or that she was piling in the big king-sized hotel bed with the rest of the family.

Santa found Parrish even at The Homestead and he burned up the hallways on his Ezy Rider and ripped into presents with his cousins. I don't think the hotel will ever be the same after that crazy morning!

My sisters-in-law Christy and Jacky put a beautiful silver ornament in Olivia's stocking Christmas morning and CC and Grandaddy made a donation to her foundation in her honor. As hard as it was to see her stocking without her there to open it, I was so glad she was remembered that morning in a special way. Cannon and I have decided we are going to start decorating a small, live tree with her collection of silver ornaments for our room each year in addition to the decorating I do for her at the cemetery.

While we were in Virginia we had to go to the Hot Springs that gave the town it's name and I must say that I wasn't all that impressed. Located in delapidated structures are two natural springs that stay about 95 degrees year round. Indians and past presidents have soaked in the "healing waters." The history was neat, but it wasn't something I wanted to do more than once!

When we got home from Virginia I rec'd a letter from Ella Zeigler's grandmother's employer with a Christmas donation for Olivia's Foundation in honor of Ella. In her letter she told me that her parents had lost a baby boy just a few days old when she was little and couldn't afford to mark his grave with anything more than a number that the funeral home provided. 20 years later they were finally able to put the little boy's name on the grave and she was glad to know that our foundation was working to provide burial assistance to people like her parents. She went on to tell of their relief to finally have been able to give him the proper headstone he deserved.

This has gotten me thinking a lot about wanting to move forward with this mission and I have been praying about the best way to get the word out that this is something we want to help people with. No one wants to think about burying their child, but the truth is that when it happens, the costs can be staggering. I know people who have had to cremate their babies because they couldn't afford a burial plot. I can't imagine not having a place to go and sit and "be" with Olivia. I can't imagine not having the choice at the most horrible time in my life.

If there is anyone reading this who needs burial assistance, or knows of someone who does, we want to help. Just post a comment on this blog with your contact information and I will contact you for details. Our oliviacharlesantiques website should also be up and running soon and there will be contact information listed under the "Olivia's Light" tab for those needing the assistance of our foundation.

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas.
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