Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Our Annual Christmas Letter & Picture
(and a requested recipe!)

Well, my card reader is still playing hide-and-seek with me, so I STILL don't have any of the photos from our Christmas gatherings uploaded. As Captain Jack said often in Pirates 2 (which Delaney got from her Nannie for Christmas and we watched last night) . . . "Bugger!" I'm sure that Gary knows where it is (in fact, he may actually have it on him), but he is somewhere deep in the primeval forest (well, the hunting woods in central Alabama) and won't be home until late tonight. So... you will have to wait ANOTHER day for my "official" Christmas report and accompanying pictures.

Until then--thought I would share the photo I included in our card this year . . .

And the annual Christmas letter I write as well. (I'm actually going to take this letter and make a scrapbook page out of it, because it really captures some of the important moments and memories from the past year.) Scout actually gave me all of her answers on it, and they just crack me up! Here it is . . .

Merry Christmas 2006 . . .
from Gary, Cheryl, McKenna, Delaney, and Scout!

Well, if you’re actually reading this letter, chances are that it’s probably AFTER Christmas instead of before. Because, yet again, I got so busy doing all the other holiday activities and waited until the last minute to take pictures and write this letter. But, as someone famous (not sure who) once said, “Better late than never.” Right?

For this year’s Christmas letter, I thought I’d interview everyone in the family about this past year. I hope that our answers will help you reconnect with us and feel like you’ve been a part of our lives in the past year. (Just to give you some context—and to make us all feel really old!!—McKenna is 14 and a freshman in high school, Delaney is 10, and Sydney, aka Scout, is 2! And Gary and I? Well, we’re too old to mention our ages!)

So, in my best journalistic voice, I give you a Question & Answer session with our family . . .

Question: What was your favorite movie in 2006?
Delaney: “I have three favorite movies—‘High School Musical’ and ‘Aquamarine’ and ‘New York Minute’.”
McKenna: “’Invincible,’ because I can’t think right now of very many movies I saw.”
: “I like Dora, Dora the Explorer.”
Cheryl: “We went to see very few movies this year, but we did watch some television! And I’m addicted to both ‘Lost’ and ‘Heroes’.”
: “Movie??, what's a movie?? Did I get to see a movie in 2006? I remember Cars.. That was a great kids flick.”

Question: What was the funniest thing that happened to you in 2006?
Delaney: “On the way back from my birthday party was non-stop laughing with me and Ashley and Savannah and Scotti. Us together equals up to trouble.”
McKenna: “Probably all of the fun we had at my 14th birthday party. Driving to the rink, laughing all the way, and then ice skating and then taking crazy pictures at Arby’s afterwards. It was so fun.”
: “I just jumped and fell down and I was funny.”
Cheryl: “Riding a mechanical bull at Gatlinburg on New Year’s Day. I was laughing so hard that I could barely stay on it. (The laughter from my friends and family didn’t help.)”
: “How about the Great White Calzone in Gatlinburg?” (Inside joke—ask us about it someday)

Question: What are you most proud of yourself for doing in 2006?
Delaney: “Winning my first travel softball tournament with the Thunderbolts.”
: “Going to high school and getting involved.”
: “I go pah-ey (potty).”
Cheryl: “Becoming a design team member at Scrapbook Mania. Also, starting my blog. I have met so many great friends from it. It's very cool!"
: “Starting my blog.”

Question: What lesson did you learn in 2006?
Delaney: “I learned nothing. I know everything.” (isn’t she humble?)
McKenna: “That no matter how much you think you like a guy, eventually, they will disappoint you in some way, and that friends will always be there for you no matter what.”
: “ABC’s”
Cheryl: “You have to trust God in everything, no matter how small. I can’t do anything on my own, so He’s got to be part of it all and I have to trust Him that He will take care of things.”
: “When things get really hard, you can still count on family.”

Question: What was the most memorable day in 2006?
Delaney: “The first day at Disney World which was so boring, because all my parents wanted to do was watch the Alabama game and then lie around and not do anything. And we were in Disney World!!” (“Also, eating cookies and drinking lemonade by the Governor’s Alabama shaped pool in Montgomery.”)
McKenna: “The days that I was part of the Heritage Panel.” (This is a group McKenna was invited to be on, along with just 20 other high school students.)
: “I like playing with my friends. I liked seeing the charackers at Disney World.”
Cheryl: “I loved the day at Tybee Island that we spent doing nothing but relaxing. Woke up in the morning and walked to a good breakfast, then went to the beach for a day of nothing but lying around, building sandcastles, and playing in the surf. That evening, we walked along the sand bar, enjoyed the shops and restaurants, then had ice cream to end the day. Nothing like a do-nothing day at a beach we love.”
: “The day that Delaney won her first Travel Ball Tournament.”

Question: What was the hardest or saddest thing you did in 2006?
Delaney: “When Papa Doug died.”
McKenna: “When two of my great-grandfathers passed away...PawPaw Doug and my Great-Grandaddy,”
: “One of my friends, Courtney, went bye-bye and I just cried.”
Cheryl: “Of course, losing Papa Doug was the hardest. But something else that’s becoming harder to do each year is realizing that my girls are growing up. McKenna is in high school (will be driving next year) and Delaney is in her last year of elementary school. They are becoming more independent and don’t rely on us quite as much as they used to. Life moves on, and that’s hard to handle sometimes. Thank goodness Sydney will be in the house with us until we’re OLD.”
: “Bury my Grandfather...”

Question: What was your favorite “toy” to play with in 2006?
Delaney: “My Karoake Machine and Video Now.”
McKenna: “My favorite "toy"? Well.... I don’t really play with toys, but I did love Myspace this year.”
: “I like my new baby dolls, and Polly Pockets.”
Cheryl: “The Internet. I became addicted to blogging!”
: “My favorite toy for 2006 was either my Satellite Radio that I got for Christmas last year (I've played with it a bunch) OR my Verizon Wireless Card for my PC, (haven't got to play with it a lot yet...)”

Question: What was your favorite food in 2006?
Delaney: “Spaghetti and ice cream.”
McKenna: “Fried okra . . . yum!”
: “I like chicken, my favorite food.”
Cheryl: “Anything at Habeneros (especially quesadillas and margaritas), if it involves hanging out with friends.”
: “Cheryl's enchiladas...”

Question: What was your favorite celebration?
Delaney: My Scavenger Hunt birthday party at the mall. And my team won. And also going to new Year’s for Gatlinburg. Even though I broke my finger ice skating, it was still fun.
McKenna: “My 14th birthday party.”
: “I liked my birthday. I liked blowing out my candles.”
Cheryl: “Staying at a bed-and-breakfast for our anniversary up in Mentone, Alabama. We went and ate delicious food for two, held hands, and woke up without children jumping on top of us.”

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas celebration filled with all the GOOD things you deserve—joy, fun, laughter, and the love of those special people in your life! And let’s all remember the true reason for the season-that God loved us so much that He came to live among us and get to know us as a friend. We also pray that your new year will be healthy, happy, and filled with all sorts of special memories!

We love you all!!

Gary, Cheryl, McKenna, Delaney, & Scout

I also wanted to share a recipe with you all, since Brown English Muffin asked that I PLEASE tell her how to make myBreakfast Casserole. This is a super-easy recipe and is so good... in fact, I usually just make it during the holidays but it's so good that I need to make it more often!

Just really easy-- Start by browning a tube of mild sausage, then drain it and set aside. Take a package of frozen hash brown potatoes and cover the bottom of a 13 x 9 casserole dish with them (will take about half of a package). Cover the hash browns with the sausage. In a mixing bowl, beat six eggs and then add about a half cup of milk and salt and pepper to taste (I sometimes have to go back and add an egg or two, depending on how it fills up the casserole dish. Can you tell that I cook mostly by sight? not so much by recipe? lol). Then pour the egg mixture over the hash browns and sausage. Cover with shredded cheddar cheese. Cover loosely with foil and cook in a 375 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes. (What's so great about this recipe is that you can prepare it the night before and stick it in the refrigerator uncooked. In the morning, pop it in the oven and cook it then. It's actually a little bit better this way!) Enjoy, Muffin (and the rest of you!)

I know everyone is gradually getting back into the swing of things after the hectic holidays, but was so glad to hear from some of you already! I promise that I'm getting around to checking out your blogs too; I love to see all the Christmas repots and updates. Looks like a lot of you had really great holidays!

I will be back tomorrow, hopefully with pictures this time. If I don't, I may be saying "Bugger" a few more times. (I actually just like saying it! LOL!)


Crazy Working Mom said...

Wonderful picture...great letter, and THANKS for the recipe! : )

adrienne said...

I loved the picture and letter!!! And that sounds sooooooooo good!!!

Dawn said...

what a totally delightful post. Thanks for sharing it! I LOVE the JOY pic - it would look awesome poster size. xox

Jen said...

How cute is that letter?
I think I might steal your questions and interview my family for an awesome memory and scrap page, if you don't mind?

Anonymous said...

What a great letter and wonderful idea! I am glad you had a great Christmas!
aimee (

Cheryl Wray said...

Tisha--Thanks about all of that!
Adrienne--It is good!!
Dawn--Thanks! I also was really happy with how the picture turned out!
Jen--Hey, steal away!! I think it would make such a cute scrapbook page!
Aimee--Hope you had a great Christmas too!
I will try and get to all of your blogs soon!!!

Jane said...

What a great idea for a Christmas letter, really enjoyed reading it!

mapiprincesa said...

Fried Okra! That brings me back down to my years in N'awlins! :) Thanks for sharing your beautiful family and their very insightful remembrances. Merry Christmas to you. Have a blessed New Year!

Kate said...

Great idea and very cute picture. Drop in at My Blog for some amazing birthday gift ideas.

Andy said...

hey i love the letter. it was great. neat idea about the interview. "neat" ? who says that anymore. i wonder about myself sometimes. where does this stuff come from. well i've been a slacker about posting maybe next week. oh wait it TTT day maybe i will today. :) anyways, love the pic too. very cute.

Leah said...

Love the Q and A. Good idea for your card even if it was a little late :)

Jolene George said...

What a great idea to ask questions for your family letter. That was a great read. The picture is very sweet too!

Brown English Muffin said...

OMG....I just want to hit the "Login and Publish" button and go back and read this post again and again.

Usually with a post this long I will just skim over it but this one I read from beginning to end.

I loved your letter idea...I will have to try this one year...preferably when my daugther starts talking otherwise every answer will be "dada dada dada or nana nana nana"!!!

And do I really really have to wait until holiday to try this recipe...oh gosh... I just LOVE breakfast food...and I love everything in this recipe!! I can taste it all now!

Question though...if you do it the night before how to the eggs and liquid stuff not turn the hash browns to mush???????

maria said...

I love your letter! Thanks for sharing it here. I loved reading all your answers! What a great idea! I might have to scraplift it next year????? Hope you don't mind. Really cool idea!
I loved that picture you posted and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of your pictures!

Renee said...

What a great idea for the Christmas letter! I have to admit sometimes I don't enjoy getting the braggy kinds of Christmas letters, but yours was unique and funny!

Nancy said...

Oh what a precious picture and letter. I learned a lot about your family and YOU! Happy New Year with blessings to you all.

Cheryl Wray said...

Thanks to all of you with your comments about my letter. It's funny what Renee said, because that's what really inspired me to write the kinds of letters I write. I like, but also kinda dread,reading the "braggy" letters that come to the house at Christmastime. So I try and write something kinda funny, but that still captures some of what we did in the past year.I've done word searches, top 10 lists, and other things for my letters in the past.
Muffin--the hash browns don't get soggy overnight, although it seems like they would. It turns out fine either way you do it!

chanel said...

love the questions and answers idea, might have to try that in our letter next year. Our family letter will be late too .... better late than never I say!

Chris said...

Love the letter!! Thanks for sharing it!!

angel said...

fabulous letter cheryl- thank you for sharing it with us!
i love the picture!
i hope your christmas was a blessed and happy one for all of you!