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This year, Andy and I were blessed with the opportunity to travel home to Kentucky for Christmas. It was a short trip, but it was much-needed for both of us. We spent a total of 4 days in my hometown (2 of those days were travel days), but crammed as much into that short time as we possibly could.
Our flight left Minneapolis at 8 am, but you wouldn’t be able to tell we had an early morning wake-up (0500) by my excitement. I couldn’t wait to go home! Going through security with Andy was fun, because it took forever to get him through the line! We had to put his work laptop and personal laptop in their own compartments, get his boots off (I’m still not sure why he wore his combat boots for the trip, haha!), etc etc. We were totally those people. Thankfully, the TSA agent was a former soldier himself and understood. He took one look at Andy and mentioned something about Recruiting 😉
Our flight into Nashville was a bumpy one, because we hit some storm clouds. I happened to be in the lavatory when we started experiencing some insane turbulence and got so dizzy walking back to my seat! Thankfully, we didn’t experience any storms.
When we picked up our rental car, they asked how many people would be riding in the car. Since it was just the two of us, they offered to upgrade us to a sports car for free! They apparently needed to keep the compact cars on the lot for the families that would be arriving home for the holidays and had a surplus of sports cars that they were trying to rent out instead. We didn’t even have to ask each other– we both read each others’ minds and knew we’d be driving off in a sports car! We ended up picking a Dodge Challenger (Andy’s dream sports car.) It was so fun to drive around in, except now Andy wants to buy one!
I was so, so excited to see the state line of my beloved Bluegrass state that I made Andy stop at the welcome center so we could take a cheesy photo. Looking like tourists– I don’t care! Also, please notice how neither Andy nor I were wearing winter coats. It was about 35-40 degrees that day, which was freezing to all the Southerners, but us Iowa transplants welcomed the “warmth”!
When we arrived home, we went to Brandi and Aaron’s apartment for a “quick nap.” Well, we never ended up napping, because we had too much fun hanging out and catching up on life! Then, we went to spend some time with my Momma before Andy and I went out on our “date night.” It had been ages since we went on a real date (one where Recruiting wasn’t on our mind!) Like we did the previous two Christmases, we went to Santa Claus, Indiana to pick out a new Christmas ornament for our tree that represented 2017. We struggled to find an ornament that we both liked– probably because it was 2 days before Christmas!– and finally settled on an RV ornament that we had personalized with “Cummins Family, Iowa, July 2017.” Obviously, the big PCS took up a good chunk of our year (we got orders in March and from then on it was preparing for the move, actually moving, and adjusting to Iowa) so it was only fitting we get an ornament for our first PCS together. We’re hopeful 2018 will be a little less chaotic, although that means we won’t really know what kind of ornament to get for our tree next year!
We also went to see the Christmas lights in the Stonegate neighborhood in Owensboro. There’s a family there that goes all out for their lights! We weren’t able to find a Christmas lights display in Iowa that rivals this family’s. It seems like Southerners are more into extreme lights displays. I guess Northerners don’t really need to, because they get snow instead 😉
Speaking of snow, Andy and I had a white Christmas! It flurried a bit on Christmas Eve, which was fine by me! Just enough to say we had a “White Christmas”, but not so much that it impeded travel.
Before meeting my family for dinner at a pizza restaurant on Christmas Eve, Andy and I snuck away to take a few quick pictures at Smothers Park. This riverfront park holds a special place in our hearts, for many reasons. We visited here on our first date, and many dates since. Andy and I took cutesy Christmas photos here on our first Christmas together (in 2015) and I remember thinking he would propose that day. He didn’t, of course, and waited a week later until we were at the Natchitoches, Louisiana waterfront to propose over New Year’s. And in June 2016, we were finally married under the overlook in the background. I love going to Smothers Park on every trip to Owensboro and reminiscing about the day we said “I do.”
While we were traveling, we had the chance to eat all of my favorite foods! We literally did not eat at the same restaurant twice during our entire trip. In the picture above, we’re eating an after-church-lunch-on-Christmas-Eve at Old Hickory BBQ, another place that Andy and I visited on our first date weekend as well as for our wedding (we had our wedding rehearsal luncheon there.)
Christmas Day came and went too quickly! It was the only time I was able to spend with my entire family at once during our trip. In fact, I only saw Brittany and Austin for those few hours the whole family was together because they had to also visit his parents’ for Christmas; Brandi and Aaron left right after dinner to travel to his parents’ in Georgia as well. Nonetheless, I absolutely cherished that time with my favorite people, no matter how short it was!
The day after Christmas was the day we had to head back to Iowa. Our flight wasn’t until 6 pm that evening, so we had a bit of time that morning to get some of my favorite yummy donuts from Rolling Pin and to run to my favorite bookstore (LifeWay) and talk to some of my former coworkers as well as try to buy the entirety of the store 😉 Then, it was time to head to Nashville to the airport. I cried and cried as I said goodbye to my Momma and my Mamaw.
Our flight back to Minneapolis was delayed for a bit, so we had the chance to spend some time in the USO lounge. Of course, Recruiting had to start a bit earlier, as Andy was fielding calls from the USO lounge.
The flight back to Minneapolis was the toughest one I’ve been on, to date. Not literally, but emotionally. I bawled for the first hour of the flight as we flew farther from my home. It was tough leaving my family, because I’m honestly not sure when we’ll be able to go visit them again. Andy probably won’t be able to visit again until Recruiting is over, and although he wants me to go visit by myself, my heart is always torn in two when I am in Kentucky without my love. Since we went home this Christmas, we won’t be able to travel for the next 2 Christmases (so the other two Recruiters in the office can go see their own families for the holidays.) I know that I will still have a great Christmas next year with my husband, but it’s just a little bittersweet.