** none of this is in actual chronological order, but it is all Christmas related**
Only 5 Christmas' this year
traveling 6 out of 7 days
1 Christmas Eve service
1 Christmas party
1 birthday boy
2 birthday parties
this was our vehicle before we left
how did we fit any gifts in on the way back?
My dad owns a house that my great uncle lived in. He fixed it up and rents it out. For the time, no one lives there so we stayed there (at night) the first weekend. It was like camping indoors as there was no bed, no couch, no dishes, etc.
One of the mornings I woke up to this. I thought it was a very pretty sunrise with all the snow.
We started the festivities with Harlie's school Christmas program.
We have a funny story with our Christmas.
Not sure you can tell with this picture but Wendell had set up his train tracks on the table the night before Christmas. For some reason, Santa thought he'd put all the gifts in a pile in the middle of the table. I suppose he thought the trains could be running when the kids toddled downstairs.
Well, before it all started in the morning. I went up stairs to check on them and Wendell says in the saddest voice. Santa didn't come, there are no gifts under the tree. I gave him a look because I was confused. He then told me that Harlie had gone downstairs to peak and didn't see any gifts under the tree. Oh, I had to smile and laugh. I told Wendell we'd go downstairs and look; immediately, he saw the gifts on the table. And he was super excited that Santa brought him a DS game.
Our family tradition is to give 3 gifts (an idea from MMO) and they all represent the 3 gifts from the 3 kings that visited baby Jesus in the Christmas story. [So each child gets three gifts, usually Phil and I do to. This year Phil and I didn't get much due to some major vehicle repairs, a bike (from this summer) and our Florida trip.]
1. frankincense - symbol of Jesus' priestly role
For us this is something of God/Christian/faith value, usually a book or a necklace or something to help the child to understand God in their life. For Wendell we bought him a daily devotion this year.
2. gold - symbol of Jesus' kingship
For us this is something they want or of value to them. For Harlie we bought her a Leapster as a game/educational system.
3. myrrh - preparing for Jesus death and embalming
For us this is something they need. This also helps us to explain to the kids that there are people that don't get things they want and not even have what they need. It helps us to remind them and ourselves to be thank for what we have and can give. For Alveda (who does not really need anything) we bought her diapers and told her that hopefully she won't get that next year (hopefully it'll be underwear instead!)
Santa also comes to visit. He usually leaves his gifts unwrapped and sitting out, another tradition.
The nice thing about this tradition is that it actually limits what we can buy for the kids, gives us direction, and helps them to have gifts but also in moderation. Phil and I believe that Christmas has become too commercialized and the true gift of Jesus is often put on the back burner. Hopefully, our family can have a combination of joy, gifts and the true meaning of Christmas.
This is a repeat picture but I also want to point out one more tradition. The cupcake on the mint green 'thing' in the middle of the table. That is a cupcake on top of our birthday cake stand that plays Happy Birthday, a real hum dinger. Anyways, on Christmas morning we like to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and have a small 'cake' to celebrate. I'd make a full cake for fun but usually we have a cake for Wendell's birthday (the 21st) so we're caked out or have leftover cake.
One more picture to share. This is a picture of our nursing home friends. For almost three years, the kids and I have visited Martha (the person in a cream colored shirt) at Country View. I picked Country View because it is a county home out in the country that houses the poorest of the poor. It's a government ran facility that is like a three story nurisng home full of some pretty disabled and elderly folks. It is also in the country (north of Waterloo) so I assume they don't get too many visitors. I contacted the volunteer coordinator and she paired me up with Martha, as Martha loves kids. Well, three years later, we are pretty well known there. Not for our names (although we do have name tags) but for ours faces. The kids are fairly comfortable going there, love their name tags and are pretty well behaved when we visit. Our visits are usually 15-20 minutes long (so not long) but long enough to make the people smile. God loves that we do that and I hope that I can keep up the motivation to go. If the kids can handle it, so can I.
Well, I hope you all had Merry Christmas!