Guest blog by my wife, Melissa
Every year, we celebrate Christmas with Tom’s daughters (Tovi & Lissi), their husbands (Ty & Chris) and the six grandchildren (Thomas, Patrick, Fisher, Livi, Kenzie & Tyli) between Christmas and New Year’s. Tom and I really get into the planning and have created some fun traditions for “Christmas RVA” that we know are on the kiddos “must do” list each year.
Every morning starts off with a hidden clue as to the magic the day will hold. And, once all the kids are awake, they look for the clue, decipher it and announce the day’s plans (ex: outdoor ice-skating downtown, hot chocolate at the Jefferson Hotel, The Tacky Light Tours, etc.) And, each year, in honor of Helen, the kids help plan a birthday party for her and decorate the cake. She’ll be 95 this year! As of last year, we had to stop using individual candles as we were awfully close to a fire hazard at the 93rd celebration!
And, each year, we try to continue Helen’s legacy and love of history by sharing some of the experiences we know she would create for her great grandchildren if she could. Last year, we visited Mount Vernon and the year prior, Monticello. This year, we were considering Williamsburg (Note: For those of you who know Helen, you can rest assured we haven’t waited this long to share her love of all things colonial … we all know and love Williamsburg dearly, but not everyone has seen it casting its candlelight spell during the holidays.)
Last year, the stars aligned and we were able to celebrate together for 6 days. This year, we’ll have to condense our plans into 3 days which we anticipate to be quite the challenge. So, this past weekend, we drove down to Wilmington to celebrate Lissi’s birthday and help with Tovi’s move, so we decided to do a little research with the kids. Which activities would make the cut? Ice skating and opening presents tied for first. The “historical” trip ranked low (although they all said yes to Williamsburg if we had more time).
On our last night, as we were gathered around a fire at the Heffron’s and were revealing the results of the kids’ poll with Tovi & Lissi, we shared our dilemma. Tom and I would have to find a way to fit in the historical experience because we knew we had to make Helen proud.
As everyone considered possible solutions, Kenzie (age 9) piped up with a straight face, “Helen’s historical.”
All eleven of us looked over at her and busted out laughing in unison … problem solved!