This past weekend we had a wonderful time with our Church family in MacClenny. On Friday night, we all gathered down at the Church, where Sis. Sherri had worked wonders turning the place into a magical winter wonderland. Britt wanted to walk around and touch all the deer, trees, and other decorations, and Ruth just looked at all the twinkling lights. We got there a little late, since Gary worked down to the wire getting a final excel project done for one of his classes. But as soon as we arrived, we grabbed us a plate of food (because really Primitive Baptist can't do anything without eating) and found us a chair and got to visiting. There were not only members from MacClenny but a couple of the other sister churches, and we had such a good time. Sis. Sherri loves to decorate and buy gifts for Christmas. She went all out finding a couple of somethings for each of the kids. Britt got a stuffed lion and a book. He carried that lion around all weekend, shouting "ROAR!" every few minutes. He did share the lion with Ruth though when he read his book. This book has been the biggest hit, because as you turn the pages it reads itself to him. He has played with almost nothing but that book all week here at the house. It just made his night to get those gifts.
After everyone left, we stuck around and helped take down decorations and lights and stuff, and visited some more with a few of the other members. Eventually, the kids were beat so we loaded up and headed over to Bro. Lee and Sis. Dina's house where we talked and visited some more before heading to bed. The next morning Sis. Dina made a great big breakfast with orange rolls, bacon, eggs, grits and tomato gravy. She told me to try the tomato gravy on the grits and it was great, best tomato gravy I've ever eaten. Eventually after Gary made sure that she didn't have any leftovers to put up, we got ready to head to town.
MacClenny Church has the tradition of getting together the 2nd Friday in December at the Church for Christmas, and then the next day gathering to go into St. Augustine to see the lights in Old Town. Some of the super industrious sisters left out early to hit the extensive outlet malls over there and do most of their Christmas shopping. Their menfolk and other members meet up with them later in the day for an late dinner/early supper and then go to see the lights. Gary and I headed over about half way through the day to walk around and see St. Augustine, since I've never been. It might have been the most interesting place I've ever been. It's not as pretty as the mountains, but the charm of the place (and of course the history) was fascinating to me. If you ever get the chance you should go.
First we stopped and checked out the light house. We didn't go in, but we did take some pictures outside along the grounds. Apparently it's actually a light station, because they have alot of other buildings, and a separate house for the keeper's family. It's also the 10th tallest in the United States, and is still in use today. After that we drove across the bay and saw alot of ships (including the Pinta) decorated for Christmas. We ended up at Old Town where we didn't get to walk anywhere near the entire area. There were shops with clothes, and shops with jewelery and shops with hats, and shops with lawn decorations, and wineries, and restaurants, and candy shops, and everything you can think of! Most of these are in old style history buildings of Spanish or Greek or Colonial influence, here and there among them there are tons of little museums and historical stops - there was the oldest wooden school house in the US, the oldest Spanish building in Florida, a Greek Orthadox shrine, and tons of others. One of the neatest things, is since they have taken this whole historic district and made it a walking tourist area, from all these old houses, as you walk through them, lots of them have these beautiful garden areas behind them, there were courtyards, and fountains, and wild yards, and manicured gardens. Let's just say it was amazing, and the beauty and magic of the Christmas lights and decorations made it even nicer. I would like to go back sometime. They even have these hotel suites upstairs of many of the shops, so you can stay in Old Town. Gary and I decided we would love to stay at St. George's Inn but we figure that it's super expensive.
We met up with everyone at Cracker Barrel for dinner, and had a good time. Ruth and I sat over by Bro. David and Sis. Sherri and Amber, and boy they are always funny, but they were in fine form Saturday evening. Oh, I hadn't laughed that much in a while. Gary and Britt sat over with some of the other members on another table. There were over 30 of us, and I'm sure Cracker Barrel wasn't entirely thrilled, but they did a great job taking care of everyone.
Afterward we headed back over to Old Town. While it had been a little cool during the day, it got cold next to the water after dark. We had failed to bring a stroller or the front carrier, so Gary and I had taken turns holding Ruth and Britt. Luckily for us Amber had a stroller and since Emma was running and playing with the big kids Britt got to ride in style. Meanwhile, everyone passed Ruth around, if she wasn't spoiled before then she is now. Somehow I had managed to leave her little tobaggan back in MacClenny, so Sis. Sherri fashioned her a turban out of her scarf. Ruth wasn't sure that she liked that at all, but we just laughed and laughed about it.
On our way back from the seeing the lights, we stopped in at Kelwyn's (I think that's how it was spelled) and got the best carmael apple. Sis. Dina had been telling us we had to try one, so we did. Gary loves those things, but I only want them from time to time. This place did a WONDERFUL job. We tried their carmeal fudge apple instead of the normal carmeal apple with nuts. It was end to the evening wonderful evening. We made the trek back to the Whiteheads' house, and spent the night again.
Sunday morning we all got up and Sis. Dina fixed another wonderful breakfast and we got ready for Church. We enjoyed a good service hearing Bro. Jay and Bro. David speak. We truely feel so blessed to have such a wonderful group of people, who have taken us in like we've lived here forever. We had a wonderful time, and look forward to seeing everyone again after the holidays.