To Have Loved...

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The Holidays

A couple of days before Christmas Stacy, Jake and the girls flew in and were staying with Mom and Dad for a week or so. Ian and I joined them Christmas Eve morning.

“Hey everyone, we’re here!” I shouted as I walked in the house.

“Sarah!” Stacy yelled as she came up to me for a hug.

“Look at you Stace how much longer?” I asked.

“Just over two months,” she said with a smile, “but I’m ready anytime he wants to make his presence.”

“I’m sure you are,” I laughed with her. “Where are the girls?”

“They are outside with Daddy and Grandpa making a snowman,” she answered. “Ian, how are you? It’s good to see you again.”

“It’s good to see you too Stacy. I’m doing pretty well,” he said giving her a hug.

“Congratulations to the both of you, I’m so glad things worked out and I was so happy to be a part of your proposal,” Stacy said.

“Thank you,” we both answered.

We went through the house and to the backyard where we saw everyone playing in the snow, including Mom. Ian and I went out to join them while Stacy stayed in the doorway watching us all with a smile on her face.

“Auntie Sarah…Aunnie Sawah!” Hope and Haley shouted together coming to give me a hug. I didn’t know if they would remember me since it had been awhile since I’ve seen them in person.

“Hey girls,” I said as I bent down to scoop them up and twirled them around. “I heard you were out here making a snowman.”

“We did, come on and we can show you,” Hope said as I set them down. She pulled me along to where there was a snowman was.

“It’s really big,” I said.

“Daddy and Grandpa helped us,” Hope replied.

“Well you all did a really good job,” I said with a smile.

I felt a tug on my jacket and looked to see Haley. “Aunnie Sawah…who’s sat?” she asked pointing to Ian.

“That is Ian, he is soon to be your uncle,” I said with smile while looking at him.

“Uncle?” she asked looking at me cocking her head to the side.

“Yes, uncle,” I said. “We are getting married soon so he will be your uncle.”

“Like Uncle Todd,” Hope said. “He is married to Aunt Lizzie.”

I nodded my head to agree with her. “So when you getting maywied?” Haley asked.

“I don’t know just yet, but very soon.” I looked again at Ian who was talking with Jake and Dad. Mom had rejoined Stacy in the house. “So who is ready to help make some Christmas cookies?” I asked.

“Me, me, me,” Hope and Haley both yelled jumping up and down.

“Well, let’s go then,” I said taking their hands and heading inside. “We are going to make some cookies,” I said to the men as we passed them.

“Have fun,” Ian said.

“Don’t let them make too big a mess,” Jake said.

“That’s the whole point of baking Jake,” I laughed and he joined in.

“Remember that when you are cleaning it all up,” he laughed again.

“Nah, we will leave that to you three,” I pointed to all of them and took the girls inside.

We took off our coats and hung them up. As were getting things set up to begin baking, there was a knock on the door. Mom went and answered it while Stacy and I stayed in the kitchen.

“Are you two really going to make cookies without me?” Vicky asked coming into the kitchen.

“Vicky!” I screamed as I went and gave her a hug. “Of course not, you are just in time to join us. Is Bobby here to help as well?”

“Absolutely,” she said with a smile. Mom brought Bobby into the kitchen after hanging his coat up. He immediately clung to his mother’s leg playing shy. “Bobby, this is Hope and this is Haley,” she said introducing him to the girls.

“Hi Bobby,” Hope said with a smile and held out her hand to shake his.

He looked at her hand and eventually reached out and she shook his hand. “Hi,” he whispered.

“He Stacy, how are you?” Vicky asked giving her a hug.

“I’m wonderful,” she replied returning the hug. “It’s good to see you again, it’s been too long.”

“It has been,” Vicky said with a sad smile on her face. “When I heard you were coming home for the holidays, I had to come back and see you.”

“I’m glad you came over, I heard you haven’t been around that often either,” Stacy said.

“Yeah, I spent some time away,” she sighed looking over at Bobby.

“Come on, the cookies aren’t going to bake themselves,” I said breaking the awkwardness that was forming. I grabbed a Santa Hat that I had brought with me and threw one each of the kids and we got started.

Stacy, Vicky and Haley sat at the dining room table mixing batter for peanut butter balls, while I took Hope and Bobby to the kitchen island. We grabbed all the ingredients a few bowls and begins mixing everything together to make sugar cookies. By the time we had it ready to go into the fridge for an hour, we had a mess everywhere. I smiled to myself thinking about what Jake said earlier.

While the dough was being chilled, we made a few other Christmas candy or treats including chocolate covered pretzels and peppermint bark. Mom came in taking pictures of us all and we sang along to the Christmas music blasting through the kitchen.

When the dough was ready, the kids and I rolled out the dough and cut it into various shapes including candy canes, snowmen, gingerbread men, Santa Claus, stars and bells. Sarah and Vicky rolled the peanut butter mix into balls and dipped them in chocolate.

Once we finished cutting out all the cookies and they were baked, we all sat at the table to decorate them. Even Jake, Ian and Dad came in and joined us.

“Hey,” I yelled as Ian grabbed the cookie I was decorating from me and ate it. “That wasn’t ready yet.”

“Maybe not, but it was sure delicious,” he said with a smile. I just shook my head and smiled.

“Sit down and help us; we have a million cookies to decorate before we head to church this evening,” I said.

We went back to decorating and an hour later, we looked at our masterpieces spread all over the table; and the mess around the kitchen and dining room.

“See, I told you there’d be a big mess,” Jake said with a laugh looking at me.

“But it’s worth it,” I said. I looked around the table at everyone with smiles on their faces and flour and frosting in their hair or on their fingers and clothes.

“I couldn’t agree more,” Mom chimed in. “Now let’s put these cookies away and get these rooms cleaned up.”

“I’m going to quick give the girls a bath and get them down for a nap before we get ready for church. Is it still at 5:00 tonight?” Stacy asked.

“Yes it is sweetie,” Mom replied.

“Great, that will give them a couple of hours to rest.”

“I will get Bobby cleaned up and settled as well,” Vicky said.

“OK, so while they are taking care of the kids, you two help me in the kitchen,” I said pointing to Jake and Ian, who both groaned.

“How is it that they make the mess and we have to clean up after them?” Ian asked.

“I have no idea,” Jake chuckled.

Mom and Dad worked on gathering the cookies and candies and set them on the back porch to keep the frosting from melting in the warm house. They then cleaned the dining room together, while Jake, Ian and I cleaned up the kitchen and all the dishes.

As we finished up, Ian and I went up to my old room to get cleaned up and rest before church. I went in to shower first and while Ian was in the shower I laid on the bed in a t-shirt to rest for a bit. We had about two hours before we had to head to church, as Mom liked to get there early to get a good seat.

“What are you thinking about?” Ian asked me when he came back to the room noticing I was lost in thought.

“Just how much fun I had today with the girls and Bobby,” I replied with a smile.

“I could tell you enjoyed being with them,” he said with a smile. “Just think, in a couple of years that could be you and our kids.”

I sat up quickly, “Our kids?”

“Yes, our kids,” he laughed. “You do want kids don’t you?”

“Of course I do, I just didn’t really think about it,” I answered him.

He chuckled a bit, “I think you will be a wonderful mother.”

“Thanks,” I said looking down. “I can’t believe we are actually talking about kids right now,” I thought to myself. I looked back up at Ian with a smile on my face. “We will both be wonderful parents,” I said.

“I can’t wait,” he said with a big grin on his face. He came over and gave me a quick kiss sitting down next to me on the bed.

“Well you are going to have to, we have a house full of people so no making babies right now,” I said with a laugh. He just shook his head and laughed with me.

I set my alarm on my phone to wake us up to get ready for church and then laid back down cuddled up to Ian and we fell asleep. I didn’t realize baking with toddlers tires one out that much, but it was so worth it.

After waking up, Ian and got dressed. I put on a red dress, while Ian wore dress pants with a red dress shirt and black tie. We met the family in the living room and headed off to church where most of the town gathers on Christmas Eve.

After church, Vicky and Bobby went to Nana and Papa’s for the night and Ian and I went to his parents’ house for dinner. The rest of my family planned on having a small dinner together and we would join them later.

“Hey Mom,” Ian yelled as we entered his house.

“Ian sweetie, welcome home,” Emily greeted him giving him a hug. “Welcome Sarah, it’s good to have you here with us,” she gave me a hug as well.

“Thank you Emily for having us this evening,” I said returning the hug.

“Come on and take your coats off. Dinner should be ready shortly,” she said. “Your father and brother are in the living room, why don’t you go join them and I’ll take Sarah with me to the kitchen.”

Ian looked at me with raised eyebrows and I nodded that I was OK.

“Mom, remember Sarah is a guest tonight, don’t make her cook her own food,” Ian chuckled.

“Oh shush, I just want her company,” she said swatting him with a hand towel she had on her. I laughed at their banter and followed Emily to the kitchen, while Ian joined his father and Aiden.

Emily and I talked about a variety of things while she finished preparing the food. She was sharing all her ideas of our wedding, but reminded me that it was ultimately my decision, but to ‘think about it.’ Apparently she and my mother have a lot of things already planned out.

“Food is ready,” she hollered out. She and I carried the food to the table.

“I’m starving,” Aiden said as he jumped in a chair, “smells good Mom.”

“Thanks honey,” she said with a smile as she stood by her chair.

I sat next to Ian and we joined hands for a quick prayer. We handed out the food and ate together while talking about Aiden’s school and our plans for New Years and more.

As we were getting our coats on to leave, I turned to Emily and Joe, “Thank you again for having me over for the evening.”

“It was our pleasure dear, besides you are already our daughter,” Emily said giving me another hug.

“You are always welcome here,” Joe said giving me hug as well.

“Bye Mom and Dad…Aiden,” Ian said giving Emily a hug and kiss on the cheek.

We waved goodbye as we climbed into Ian’s car and headed back to my parents’ house. “I had a great time tonight,” I told Ian on the drive back.

“I did too,” he said glancing over at me with a smile.

After arriving, we hung up our coats and joined my family in the living room. Continuing tradition, we each got to open one gift. My parents gave each of us one of their gifts which was a Christmas sweater that all matched; they even included Ian since he was joining the family real soon.

We decided to wear them the rest of the evening and took a family picture. We ended the night by watching a Christmas movie and listening to Dad read “The Night Before Christmas.”

We woke up Christmas morning to the girls knocking on all the doors to tell us that Santa had come and we need to open the gifts. We got up and joined them in the living room and we opened up the rest of the gifts. The girls were certainly spoiled this year and I couldn’t help but think about what Ian and I had talked about the day before about us having kids in the near future.

We spent the rest of the day at my Nana and Papa’s house with all my aunts, uncles and cousins. The big topic of the day was Ian and my wedding and if we had anything set and planned yet. We told them it was a work in progress, but nothing finalized yet.

We had a huge dinner that Nana, Mom and my aunts made and then opened up even more gifts before coming back to my parents. After putting the girls to bed and my parents turning in, Stacy, Jake, Ian and I sat next to the fireplace and talked well into the night.

We spent the next several days hanging out with Stacy, Jake and the girls since we wouldn’t be seeing them again for a little while. We played in the snow, made more cookies and did a lot of coloring and simple crafts. We had enough to decorate Mom’s fridge and mine when I get home.

Stacy, Mom and I spent a day together where we set a date for the wedding, which will be June 20, 2026. I had texted Ian the date and he agreed with it. I made Stacy my Matron of Honor and the girls my flower girls. The baby will only be a few months old, but I made him the ring bearer to which Stacy laughed at me.

Ian and I brought Stacy and Jake to Bismarck to celebrate New Year’s Eve while our parents kept the girls overnight. I know Stacy wasn’t much in the mood to go out and celebrate, but we did have dinner out and did a little dancing in a local club. We ended up coming back to our apartment a couple of hours before midnight and rang in the New Year with the just four of us.

“Happy New Year!” I shouted as the clock struck twelve.

“Happy New Year!” Ian said as he pulled me in for a kiss.

Jake and Stacy shared a kiss as well before we all gave each other hugs and kisses. “I’m so glad for this night Sarah,” Stacy whispered as we hugged. “I really needed an adult night out.”

“Anytime sis,” I said with a smile on my face. I loved spending this week with my sister and hope to get to do it more often.

“I hate to be a party pooper, but I am beat and I think I’m going to turn in. It’s not often I actually get to sleep all night,” Stacy said with a laugh.

“Well technically, it’s only half the night, but I think we can let you sleep in,” I answered with a chuckle.

“Hey, anything more than three or four hours is a full night. If it’s not one of the girls, it’s the other still waking us up.”

I laughed again, “Goodnight you two and let me know if you need anything.”

“Goodnight,” Stacy said giving me one more hug before heading to our guest room.

“Goodnight,” Jake said following Stacy.

Ian pulled me onto his lap on the couch and I wrapped my arms around his neck and rested my forehead against his.

“I am so happy that I get to start a new year with you,” Ian whispered.

“I am too,” I said giving him a kiss.

“Here’s to many new beginnings,” he said before kissing me again.

He stood up and carried me to our room where we made love as quiet as we could knowing that my sister was right next door. “This is going to be a great year,” I thought to myself as I fell asleep.

On Friday my parents brought Hope and Haley over to spend one last day with us before they had to head to the airport to head home on Saturday. We showed them around town and took them to the local children’s museum. Saturday afternoon, I said goodbye to Stacy and her family.

Ian and I spent Sunday relaxing at home. We ate a few meals, watched some TV or just cuddled in each other’s arms. It was perfect and I couldn’t have asked for a better kick off to a new year!

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