I'm relaxing in an easy chair in my boyfriend's parents' living room. Before me, a large window affords a gorgeous view of the snow-covered rolling hills of East Central Iowa. We are enjoying a very pleasant white Christmas with C's family.
C's maternal grandparents are here, as are his two sisters and his adorable 1-1/2 year old nephew, Alexander. Xander and I have endeared ourselves to each other yesterday via a simple game Xander calls "earthquake." Xander will push a square plastic laundry basket up to me and then climb inside. The he will look up at me, say "earthquake," and begin rocking back and forth in the basket--that's my cue to contribute to the rocking up the basket, picking it up off the floor and swaying it side-to-side or tossing him in the air. He giggles nonstop :-)
C's parents have a nice home in the country just outside of Iowa City, Iowa, the old state capitol. The image above is of the snow-covered old capitol building in downtown.
Speaking of government, this state is crawling with political activity leading up to the Iowa Presidential Caucuses, the casting of the first votes in the nomination process for the next U.S. president--now only a week away. Since we've arrived, I've seen six candidate TV commericals, three or four featuring Barack Obama and one each featuring Hillary Clinton and John Edwards (but no Republicans...?) I've had a few conversations with C's family members, hearing their thoughts on the candidates, whether they intend to caucus, and if so, which candidate they intend to caucus for.
C's sister is a big fan of Barack Obama and proudly shows photos of Obama to her baby. She's told us how frustrated she is that she missed Barack this past weekend--he was scheduled to hold a rally in Iowa City last Friday, but weather prevented his plane from arriving. Barack will be back here this coming Friday, and C's sister plans to be there. Obama's campaign is bringing in out-of-state volunteers to take care of her baby the night of the caucuses next week.
All the presidential candidates have apparently taken today (Christmas Day) off to be with family, but the political frenzy returns tomorrow. Chris Dodd has even moved his wife and kids to Des Moines earlier this month so that he can celebrate Christmas without leaving the state and be centrally located for the last big push before the caucuses.
The Des Moines Register--the big newspaper in Iowa--arrived at C's parents' house yesterday stuffed with the latest information on the candidates and promising the paper's official "caucus guide" to the candidates and issues next Sunday.
So much activity. So much potential in the air. Everyone is talking about change and the future.
And here I sit, enjoying the beauty of the snow and the warmth of C's family's hospitality. Xander is rocking on a wooden horse built by C's grandfather. C's mom and grandmother are on the couch flipping through an Amish cookbook and a cookbook for cast-iron skillet meals. C's sister has the paper spread on the floor. And C himself has fallen asleep (post-Christmas dinner drowsiness) next to me.
It's so relaxing and nostalgic and no big deal. C and I are welcome here--not just tolerated--welcome. I never, ever imagined that this was possible. I am so grateful today, and aware that C and I are tremendously blessed.
Merry Christmas, my friends!