My Christmas Gift 2020

Dear friends—

Entrance to Gatlinburg, TN

I’m writing this on a warm evening in Gatlinburg, TN in December 15th, 2020. A gift I gave to myself after many weeks of contemplation. I am very generous with my time and talents when it comes to others; however, I am much more frugal with myself. I have many reasons why I picked Gatlinburg, TN. As a kid, my parents always planned a summer trip for our family and we would without fail stay at the Howard Johnson Inn right in the middle of the city; the Howard Johnson is gone and now the Greystone at the Aquarium.

HoJo: Howard Johnson in 1960-1970 Gatlinburg, TN

The Greystone at the Aquarium: Gatlinburg, TN 2020

I fondly remember the Smoky Mountains and how picturesque it was and remains today, in-spite of the horrible fire of 2016. Even, today four years later you can still see charred remains on the trees. As a kid, I remember visiting Cherokee Village and getting my picture taken with a real Indian. One of last times I visited the Great Smoky mountains as in the early 2000’s, it was a fun and eventful trip. A friend and I drove there on a spur-of-the-moment trip, I used to like adventures like that, we had a tent and found a place to stay in the middle of the night, have you ever pitched a tent in total darkness (?). It was interesting for sure! I loved driving through the mountains, there was just one small detail I was in total denial of, the car we drove had really bad brakes…we can laugh now but I can tell you I prayed a lot on our drive home with little to no brakes. I was young and foolish, thank God for protecting us. Another trip, me and a friend again made no plans and we ended up in a hotel that had seen brighter days, I was so scared at the first room they gave us, I begged for a different room. Again, young and foolish, having a palette that did not measure up to my wallet. That was a lesson I had to learn over and over again. God is patient and kind, can I get an AMEN! So, my parents were going to be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in 2013, I wanted to do something extra special for them because, they too were extremely frugal with themselves. So, in 2012, I planned and paid for a getaway in Gatlinburg, TN to celebrate a year early. I was so excited I could hardly wait to give them the gift.

Mr. & Mrs. Robinson

My parents were married July 25th, 1963, the trip would actually be their 49th anniversary; unfortunately would not be, my mom died unexpectedly in June 22, 2012. A day I will never forget as long as I live. I had just spent the day with her and my dad, two days earlier. I recall getting the call at 3:22am, to this day I cannot recall the drive to my parents home that was over an hour away. I do remember arriving to find many family members assembled at the house but she was gone already, the funeral home or ambulance I’m not sure which one, had already taken her. It was a Friday morning and it would be 3 days before I would be able to see her. I remember touching her face, kissing her cheek…they were cold and stiff, not like my mom at all. I picked out her clothing and a family friend gave the eulogy, it was beautiful and hundreds of people came to express their love for her and the life she had lived. I stepped into moms shoes, I became the rock that my dad and brother needed during this time. My friends and family supported me to the extent that I allowed. Grief is a strange and wonderful thing all mixed up together.

I wanted to share my vacation experience with you but I guess I accomplished much more, my love of family and friends. I hope that 2021 has more opportunities for travel and sharing love.

Video of pictures from my trip

Thanks for stopping by my site and sharing my journey. Wishing you the best in 2021.

1 Corinthians 13:12-13

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

An old blurry mirror…

~Charlotte, Seeker of unexpected Comfort, Happiness, Joy and Patience.

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