Family makes happy Christmas memories in Tennessee

Categorized as 01/10/11 Goshen News column

Knowing that at least one other contingent from our community was also in the area, we murmured to one another, speculating that perhaps the northerners had brought the snow along.  Maybe, we said, the local Chamber of Commerce should send the Welcome Wagon with envelopes of cash and invitations to “come back anytime, y’all.”  We chuckled, freshened the coffee, and went back to gaping at the scenery.  It was with relief that we welcomed the last set of travelers on Christmas afternoon.  As exhausted parents unloaded a packed vehicle, yet two more girlies spilled into the cabin, jumping headfirst into the roiling mass of cousinly chaos as the excitement meter veered into the red.  Sunday, then, was our official Christmas celebration.  We gathered around the stone fireplace for a family worship time, singing the old carols together.  Then we went around the circle, each family sharing a story, song, Bible verse, or a personal meditation.  We sensed, there in the quiet, the presence of the Child.  With no small effort, the intrepid Schrock women recreated the annual holiday feast in that small kitchen far away.  As two turkeys simmered in their gravy, the men donned winter gear, tromping outdoors to grill slabs of ham over charcoal out in the snow.  Not a thing was overlooked, including the grand finale, the official family desert – Katherine Hoover pudding.  Tummies were full, and hearts rejoiced.  After being housebound for a couple of days, the natives were certainly getting restless.  Hence, Monday morning saw a mass exodus back down the mountain with family members splitting up and spreading out throughout Pigeon Forge.  The venerable, honorable, and noble Mr. Schrock’s stock rose sharply, hovering near sainthood, when he opted to take his sons (all four!) to look at knives and swords.  This, thanks be, as the girl shopped in sweet solitude at the outlet mall, beloved mocha in hand, and blessed his name.  After a day of shopping and market research (i.e., go cart/laser tag surveillance), we gathered again for what was surely a highlight of the trip – the Dixie Stampede.  For two solid hours, we enjoyed a wonderful meal, riveted by the horses, lights, and action down below.  What a surprise it was to discover, in that vast arena, yet a third Northern Indiana contingent seated right beside us, a friendly group of Amish people who introduced themselves and confessed to reading a certain column that appears locally every Monday.  It was an unexpected gift that rounded out a delightful day.  The next day brought more communal happiness.  As the rest of the horde slumbered, the women tiptoed out, loaded up, and gunned it toward scenic Gatlinburg for a leisurely breakfast.  To mollify the masses, we returned with Krispy Kreme donuts so the males among us could fortify themselves for their go carting and laser tagging.  The joy was palpable.  Home now, our hearts are full of happy memories.  Of foosball playoffs and pool.  Of games around the table.  Of a hot tub that was seldom empty.  Of four girls with four dolls in eight matching nightgowns.  Of late-night movies in PJs.  Of one “tender Tennessee Christmas” that will be fondly remembered for years to come.  The Schrock family hopes that the Yoders, Millers, and Hochstetlers had as much fun as they did.  The rest of you?  Well, you’ll just have to try it yourself next year. 

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