Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Time–A time of Gratitude and Reflection

Christmas was always the most fun time of the year for us growing up. Whether it was hoping for a white Christmas or just not being in school, it was great!

Our family always had the same rituals. We would go to church the night before. We would try and do an earlier service and then get something to eat. Sometimes we would head down to Union Station to eat at a restaurant downtown. If we were lucky, the fudge factory would be going singing and making fudge.

We would get home and would be able to open one present the night before. My brother and I would actually be patient to see which would be the right present to open. Of course, we had scouted it out for the past 24 hours.

The next morning, my brother and I were ready to go!3 We were extremely patient and be quietly waiting in our rooms to hear the trigger to come downstairs. We were silent and in reflection of all that we had been blessed with. Okay, maybe that was in some crazy alternative universe. We were usually at the top of the stairs and when we heard the Christmas music play, we would race downstairs. Being almost 8 years older than my brother, I would usually lead the charge, see picture to the left. (I apologize to all regarding the Oklahoma Sooners t-shirt. I have nothing to say for that.)

Our favorite family movie was A Christmas Story. We watched it as much as possible and I still laugh to this day over those stupid dogs that chase the old man around. One year, my father did what Ralphie’s father did with the Red Rider BB Gun. Accept with me, it was a baseball bat I had been wanting. When all the presents were open, he had this smile on his face. He pointed to a closet in the hallway and I went over there and saw an oddly shaped present in the closet. To this day, it makes me smile.

The years have gone by since those days. I have moved to Phoenix and back. We have celebrated Christmas in Phoenix to keep the traditions going. The first time my wife ever came to St. Louis, we flew in Christmas night just to see my family on Christmas. The year I got married was the first year we were not around each other on Christmas. I had just gotten married and had been home a few weeks beforehand. It was an unusual feeling. The wife and I went to DSC03553San Diego to celebrate the holiday and had our first Christmas dinner as a married couple: Carl’s Jr. or Hardees to the Midwesterners. Sadly, this is a tradition we have kept. The Christmas’s since then, we have had Hardees at some point. Sounds crazy and NOT healthy, but it reminds us of our first Christmas together.

This year will be unusual, especially for my parents. This is their first Christmas with my brother not able to join us. He has moved Andrew's Graduation 031this year to Ft. Meyers, FL. We talk nearly on a daily basis and hope and pray he can enjoy the holiday. I am sure we will be sending him pictures and video of his 21 month year old nephew tearing into some presents!

It gets me to think though. They call it the most wonderful time of the year. For some people though it is very tough. Whether there may be a family member who has died or families are not together by choice or by other circumstances. It can be the most CHALLENGING time of the year for some. All I can say for encouragement is to remember those who are not with you. Celebrate that they have made a footprint in your life that you miss them this time of year. I think we would all would loved to be remembered like that one day.

My mom gave me a CD one year for Christmas. One song is pretty tough to hear without getting emotional. It reminds us of a group of people that cannot be home for Christmas; however, I think it works for all of us that cannot celebrate Christmas with all our loved ones. It is Josh Groban’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas.

Salute to our Troops

May God Bless you all and have a very Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ode to My Wife

Well, today marks my wife’s 30++ Birthday. We have just found out that our second child on the way will be another boy. She has become a part of the Young family tradition. My father has two 1565637258_mbrothers. His oldest brother has two boys and his two boys have a combined three boys and one girl (the only girl). My dad had two boys and we are now working on our second boy. My dad’s youngest brother has three boys. If you are trying to count that is a total of 15 boys against one girl.

Anyway, I am quite thankful for my bride. She has become an outstanding mother to Cameron and no doubt that baby number two will receive the same blessings as Cameron. It has been an adventure time with Cameron, since his birth; however, she has been the leader on what to do when it comes to handling him. Sometimes when she asks for me to do something for Cameron, I may think in my head to hesitate; however, I know there is a reason for it. Even if that reason is to let her breath for a minute, then I need to make it happen. I learn something new everyday from her on how to handle parenthood.

We started dating on September 20, 2006. That’s right, I remember the date! She has dealt with several of my vices. One would be sports. She has turned into a big time St. Louis Cardinals fan, mainly because of me. A month after we started dating, the PA140133_0266_266Cardinals were making their run at the 2006 World Series. She was trying to figure out why I was wearing the same sweatshirt and why I watched the games by myself. Welcome to the world of a superstitious sports fan. This year as the Cardinals won the World Series again, she was an old pro at things. She got to enjoy this World Series with me as we were at Game Seven of the World Series.

Another vice of mine: Work. A lot of times I will take work home with me or spend a few extra hours a week at work. It does come with the territory of being a hotel General Manager. You get called it at odd hours of the night. It can be a frustrating issue, but a necessary issue. She has accepted it with a TON of grace. As long as work does not replace family as the priority in our lives, she is okay with the job requirements.

Each day we are together, I see more and more we were meant to be. Whether it being her acceptance of my vices or the fact we get emotional over the same things. I realized that one night back in 2008. We had been engaged for a few months and were watching the DOVE awards, the Christian music world Grammy’s. As we were watching a song came on that dealt with the struggles she was going DSCN0788through (no the struggles were not getting married to me). After she left and went home, I know that was a sign from God that she was meant for me. I get emotional over some songs I hear as well. I always thought that when I got married, I would have to explain to the woman I married why I cry over random songs. Now I don’t. She knows. That is just who she is. She understands and loves me for who I am, just like our Father above.

To end this, of course, a song. This was played at our wedding by the recording artist himself. It was a fun wedding present for my wife to have this song played at our wedding. I love you Stephanie.

She–Radial Angel

Picture one taken by Erik Van Duyn, 2006.

Picture taken at our rehearsal dinner, 2008. No idea who took it.

Picture three taken by Kristi Yehling at Cameron’s First baseball game, May 2011.

Video taken at our wedding by Erik Van Duyn, November 15, 2008.