I woke up early one morning about five or six years ago when we were up here in Indiana visiting, staying in the house Joey grew up in. It was early fall and the leaves were just starting to change colors and the weather was turning colder. For some reason, I began to think about all the Christmases that Joey and her brother and sisters must’ve spent in that old farmhouse...
Soon after, I found myself sitting on the front porch steps with a guitar and a pen in my hands. By the time Joey came outside an hour or so later, cradling a cup of coffee... the song was finished. I handed her the paper with my scribbled lyrics and a few minutes later, she was singing them back to me—just the way I had imagined it... from her perspective, with her beautiful voice telling the story.
By late October, an ornament-covered tree was up in the living room and our farmhouse back in Tennessee was all decorated for Christmas (a full two months early) and we were making a music video for the song.
I came across that video the other day. It took me right back to that moment in time... we both seemed so young. Joey’s first dog Rufus was still with us, and we were a few years and a million miles from the joy and the pain of today.
We made a full “Farmhouse Christmas” album and DVD not long after that, filled with a number of songs that we’d written and some even better ones that we found. It’s one of my favorite records that Joey and I’ve made.
My wife knows I love Christmas. I always have. It’s something she learned early on in our marriage about me. Our older girls Heidi and Hopie are the same way. There’s a magic that’s in the air that isn’t there any other time of the year.
Christmas does what no amount of New Year's resolutions or self-help books can do... it changes people. It brings out the very best in us, and in others.
A few evenings ago, we were all together here spending time with Joey and someone suggested that we should order pizza for dinner... again. So, I called in the order to Pizza King, the local pizza place here in Alexandria, and 20 minutes later walked in to pick up our order. When I got to the counter, once again—no matter how much I pleaded—they wouldn’t let me pay for my pizza (everyone there is so nice). But this time, the girl at the counter said the owner had left a few Christmas gifts for Indiana and she handed me a big bag.
When I got back to the house, Joey’s sisters and I opened the bag and realized that those nice folks had bought and wrapped 25 separate presents (they’re all different books I think) for Indiana to open... one each day from December 1st, all the way through Christmas. What a beautiful, thoughtful thing to do.
So every morning is “present time” for Indy. She loves ripping open the paper and seeing what’s inside. And I think even more than that, she loves sitting on our laps while we read her new book to her.
This morning, she got to open her December 4th gift... on her mama’s lap.
Joey’s still feeling pretty good. Really good actually. We’ve been able to keep her pain under control for the most part and her spirit is just as positive as ever. Even more so here lately.
We moved Joey and us to a bigger house here this past Sunday. Indy and I had been living out of a suitcase and needed a little more room and this place has a big picture window in the bedroom so Joey can look out and see white geese and black swans swimming in the pond and deer walking down the path. It’s amazing.
...another blessing from someone in the community who just wants to help.
I took a picture the first morning we got here. Joey woke up excited about the view and put her make-up and wig on and just kept staring out the window as she ate her breakfast.
She looked so beautiful.
Russdriver is still here with us—running to get Miss Joey more ‘bubble tea’ when she craves it and doing a million other ‘important’ things to help out where he can, and Heidi and Hopie are here too. We’re missing our friends and family back in Tennessee, but we’re loving getting to spend all this wonderful time with Joey’s family here.
We have a Christmas tree and some decorations up and thanks to the nice folks at Pizza King, it’s starting to feel like Christmas. And not just any Christmas—a very special Christmas—one that we’ll never forget.
How could it not be... when we get to wake up every day with this sweet little baby reindeer?!!