My sweet sister-in-law Becki asked me about how we handle our pets dying since she thought my niece Kitty's fish is about to be "belly up."  On Sunday night, a friends whispered to Anna Cate that when they tell their daughter "the fish went back to the ocean" they really mean the fish died.  In these little vignettes of witnessing the way my friends/family handle death with their kids, I'm reminded of how differently my daughter's childhood experience is in that death is dealt with head on in our household.I think because we want their grammy to be a part of their consciousness, death is also.

Anna Cate in her young 7 years has experienced loss on a few occasions.  A few weeks ago, as the girls were still processing the loss of a sort-of-grandfather in Patti's Dad, Molly said "Paw paw is like Grammy and Jesus . . . in our hearts."  I jokingly said, well I guess that is Molly's theology -- heaven is a place in our hearts.  But when I reflect about the depth of my children's capacity to understand life in its fleeting properties, I'm both grateful and sad, and hope I'm handling it all ok.

So I tell myself that they celebrate the special occasions deeply as well.

When asked what her favorite thing about Thanksgiving, Anna Cate says "being with family" and I think she means it.

Molly Mae loves having family around, too.

She has quite the spirit to know when things are special.

She soaked up as much time with Daddy Doug as she could, including naps together.  I forgot to ask him if she rubbed his neck.

Daddy took both girls to see Frozen.

Then, he went back to Tennessee but Nana stayed an extra week. We crafted, she visited Anna Cate's school twice, she shopped and we went to see Santa.

 Molly was brave to Santa. Look at that grin.

The reason Mom stayed was to go with as 'nanny' to a wedding for the first weekend in December. BJ was so honored to be asked to be "best man" for his friend Whitney as he wed his "once in a lifetime love" Sam (as said in their vows).  The girls were asked to be the flower girls. It was a trip of  a lifetime for us at the Homestead Resort.

It was a beautiful wedding and we all had a fabulous time!!

Having Mom with us was icing on the cake, a marshmallow on the fire, a candy cane in our martini!

The girls swam in an outdoor heated pool, ice skated with their Daddy and pretty much felt like they were at home by the time we left.

It was a special weekend and fabulous kick off to the Christmas season as well as a reminder about the celebrations in life, the beauty and history of Virginia, and the importance in celebrating life of our family and friends.

“Life is what you celebrate. All of it. Even its end.” 
~ Joanne Harris