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As good as it gets

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

I once kept a journal. I wrote in it every day, even if it was only a sentence that summarized the day.

Then I had two babies under two years old, and the entries became less frequent.

When those babies started school, I entered the workforce full-time and between home and work, there wasn't much time for writing – other than what I got paid for.

And then I became an editor, and my publisher strongly recommended ("ordered") I write a column at least twice a month. When I protested I had nothing to write about, he disagreed and told me my life was interesting enough and it's how the readers would know me as a person.

Twenty-five years later, I know my columns are my journal, and if my children want to know about me, then all they have to do is read the newspaper.

This is one of those stories.

I returned Saturday night from my trip north – the one I wrote about last week.

Wednesday night saw my Honda parked in Elberton, Ga., where my daughter-in-law, Ashley, made pot roast with the trimmings and she, Spencer, Andi and I rocked around the Christmas tree.

At 15-months old, Andi is so much fun to be around and is a constant source of entertainment. She babbles all the time, waves and blows kisses incessantly and enjoys dropping her sippy cup and saying, "Uh-oh."

Thursday, Spencer and I boarded a deluxe motor coach with 50 members of the Fun Club – retirees who like to travel, both day trips and exotic vacations. 

We headed to Hendersonville, N.C., where the temperature was a brisk 29 degrees and the wind chill made it feel like 15.

It put us in the Christmas spirit as we disembarked from the coach and took a look at the bustling main street, decked out in holiday fare. Block after block of shops, eateries and museums awaited us.

Spencer, who is now 26, was impressed and we agreed, this is what a downtown is supposed to look like.

People were milling around, going into coffee houses and baby stores. We visited a shop where soaps, lotions and masks were all handmade and used no animal products. The heady scent of peppermint hung in the air as we purveyed the goods.

A visit to the local mercantile, Mast General Store, established in 1883 found us oohing and ahhing at the huge selection of goods. Spencer picked up a nice little gift for his bride there.

We took pictures, marveled at the architecture of the hundred-year old buildings and popped in and out of buildings to get warm.

Lunch took us to a charming pub where the burgers were thick and juicy and margaritas were $2.50.

And then we were on to the Flat Rock Playhouse to see Dickens' "A Christmas Carol".

The theatre itself was charming and intimate. The show was superior, especially the special effects and music. Afterward, Scrooge himself came into the chilling winds to greet patrons. Spencer was thrilled to have his picture made with him.

 A scrumptious dinner was enjoyed at a swanky resort and 14 hours later we were back where we started, exhausted but exhilarated. My son and I have much in common – he's an old soul who believes in tradition, family and high morals. The day spent with him will go down as one of the best Christmas gifts of my life because we talked, experienced and talked some more.

Friday, I kept Andi while her parents worked. She and I went 90-to-nothing until about 1 p.m. then we both took long naps before heading over to see my other little monkey, Piper, who smiles with her entire face.

With two of my three children there, we gorged on pizza and played games before I ventured off to make a quick visit with Denise's family. It was solemn, but also joyous and I'd be a liar if I said no tears were shed.

Spencer was waiting up for me when I returned. We poured eggnog and toasted the absolutely splendid three days we'd shared.

Saturday dawned with Spencer heading to work and Ashley preparing to graduate with her master's degree in education. How she balanced being a wife and mom, a teacher and a student is unimaginable. (But I guarantee she didn't keep a journal.)

As we all went our separate ways, I couldn't wipe the grin from my face for nearly 400 miles.

It was an idyllic four days. I spent quality time with my family, experienced an old fashioned Christmas in a town that will be visited again and I made memories,  lots of memories. Too many to share here.

This is as good as it gets in this life and I am one blessed woman, journal or not.