First row from left: Cecily, Felicia, Terri (Felicia’s cousin); Second row from left: Hal, me, Chris, Jerry, Michael, Terri, Reggie

Around the end of November, my eldest child, Felicia called me and asked what Chris and I were doing for Christmas. I must admit, I hadn’t given much thought to traveling or doing too much of anything except staying home. The last couple of years have put a damper on my outlook for traveling or looking forward to traditional gatherings to celebrate Christmas. I live in Little Rock and Felicia lives in Jonesboro, a two-hour drive away. For some reason, Felicia was insistent that Chris and I try to gather with her and her husband, Jerry, during this holiday season. Felicia is a successful real-estate broker, selling real-state, managing properties, and arranging financing for home buyers. She also owns an Airbnb, which is adjacent to their home.

Recently, my brother, Larry and his wife, who also live in Little Rock, drove up to Jonesboro and spent a couple of days in Felicias’ Airbnb. They enjoyed their stay. Felicia suggested we do the same. She suggested we come up December 12 and spend two nights. Two days in Jonesboro, in an Airbnb is far shy of the holiday we, including Felicia and two of my cousins, enjoyed last year. If you follow my blog, you know we spent last Christmas and New Year’s Day in Ghana, West Africa. I agreed to make the trip to Jonesboro. I should have suspected something was up, but I can be as naïve as a two-year old.

From left: Jerry, Felicia and Chris. Christmas light show in Jonesboro

The twelfth of December falls on a Sunday this year, so Chris and I masked up for church and headed out for Jonesboro afterwards. About halfway on our trip, Felicia called and asked how far out we were from Jonesboro. I hadn’t been paying attention because I was asleep with Ari, our little ball of energy Shih Tzu sitting on my lap. A short while later, Felicia called again and told me that we would be staying at an Airbnb, which isn’t hers. She gave me the address, so I could put it in my GPS. To be honest, if we hadn’t been more than halfway to Jonesboro, we would have considered turning around. Felicia was waiting outside the Airbnb when we arrived. The place was nice and cozy, two bedrooms, two baths. It did have a no-pets policy. We decided Ari would spend the two nights in Jonesboro with Felicia and Jerry.

After we brought our luggage in, we sat for a while to rest and chat. As the afternoon advanced to early evening, we asked Felicia about a place to have dinner. She mentioned that Jerry was working on a project and that we would go out to eat when he finished. Later we gathered Ari’s things and went by Felicia and Jerry’s place to drop off Ari and pick up Jerry.

Although I haven’t spent a lot of time in Jonesboro, I did recognize the restaurant when we arrived. It’s a place Felicia and Jerry frequents. As we entered the place, Jerry ushered us around a corner, and then: Surprise! There was a gathering of friends and family sitting around a large table. They were there to celebrate our thirty-sixth-year wedding anniversary. You’re asking why thirty-six. Felicia had wanted to celebrate our thirty-fifth; however, we were in Ghana last year.

More Christmas lights in Jonesboro

Seated around the table were Cecily, our middle child, who had driven up from Little Rock; my sister Terri and her husband Reggie from Wynne, about 45 minutes from Jonesboro; one of my cousins Michael, who lives in Jonesboro; Felicia’s cousin Terri, a Jonesboro resident; a friend of mine Hal, who I hadn’t seen in over ten years, also a resident of Jonesboro.

With the gang all gathered, we had a wonderful time eating, talking, and celebrating thirty-six years of marriage! In addition to the dinner, Felicia surprised us with an eleven-day trip to South Africa which will cover Johannesburg, Cape Town, a safari and number of other sights and sounds. Felicia knows I have a love of all things Africa, which makes this a fantastic gift. We’ll have the entire year of 2022 to plan the trip.

Felicia, thank you so much. I love you all the way to the moon and back! And much love to my Chris. Our union of thirty-six years has generated many wonderful memories. I pray that we’ll have many more years to create an unforgettable legacy for our children and grandchildren to talk about for years to come.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

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