We had a wonderful Christmas Eve this year. It was actually the day that we gathered and celebrated as a family. We spent the day together at Gwen and Tim's house. We had lunch of snack things that are extra good on holidays - Taco Tray, meatballs in the crock pot, little pizzas on french bread, veggies and dip - well you get the idea! After "snacks" we opened presents. Before we knew it, it was time for church! The kids got all dressed up in their Christmas outfits!
We took a family picture, but sadly it was not on my camera. So you will have to wait to see that group shot. I did manage to snap this shot of the four kids. Don't you just love those fur jackets? I sure did! And look at that handsome boy in his sweater! We all went to church and we have to take two cars since we all don't fit in one! I guess that is the mark of a "big" family! After the Christmas Eve service, we returned to Gwen and Tim's house for a wonderful (and traditional - for us) dinner of Lasagna! The time just flew by and suddenly it was time to leave for home. It was such a good day!
Doug and Susie get the award for the best presents this year. They gave all the kids (and let's be honest here - Tim) a set of Laser Tag guns. The game has come a long way since the vests and guns of the 1990's. The kids had a blast playing with these - and so did Tim! And then Doug and Susie managed to get an amazing gift for Tim, who is certainly one of the hardest people to ever buy for! They gifted him tickets to an event that he just loves- a gamer convention! So yes, this was the year for Tim, for sure!
I got some very special presents this year. First, I got this amazing purple heart that Ellie made in her home school co-op art class!
There were so many wonderful gifts exchanged this year, but best of all were all the hugs and laughter that we shared. Susie and Lia played a game of Sorry and Zeke and Anna worked on puzzles. All the kids had Lego sets opened on various tables. Anna spent a lot of time with her favorite present (also from Doug and Susie) a Peppa Pig camper! So there was plenty of "snorting" going on! So much food eaten, so much love shared.
The day ended much too quickly for me. We saw some great light displays as we were driving home. There is something so peaceful about driving along roads that are mostly empty (especially when there are usually many, many cars). Because it was late on Christmas Eve, all of the stores along the route were closed, the parking lots were empty. There was plenty of time to reflect on the day. I love the story of Jesus' birth. Thinking about the journey that Joseph and Mary had to make. The crowds of people that must have been everywhere. But then, there was the stillness of the night. The newborn baby. The shepherds, out in their fields watching over the sheep. The angels! The star.
The message...... (Luke 2 -from the Passion Translation)
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in radiant splendor before them, lighting up the field with the blazing glory of God, and the shepherds were terrified! But the angel reassured them, saying "don't be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere! For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord Yahweh, The Messiah!" You will recognize him by this miracle sign; you will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough! Then all at once, a vast number of glorious angels appeared, the very armies of heaven! And they all praise God, singing: GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST REALMS OF HEAVEN! FOR THERE IS PEACE AND A GOOD HOPE GIVEN TO THE SONS OF MEN!
Yes, there is that word "PEACE" that I was feeling at the end of a day of celebration. But I was also thinking of "HOPE". Each day, whether we are together or not, we remember Lucas. Lucas is always a part of our time together because he is a part of our family. But at these times, we especially feel his absence. Even this year as we expectantly await Doug and Susie's baby girl, the loss of Lucas is present with us. HOPE is also there. It is that good hope that is given to us, because of that baby born in a stable, under the shadow of the cross. It is that hope that lets our hearts smile and sing, knowing that one day we will be reunited with Lucas.
That is the message of Christmas. The miracle sign of a baby lying in a feeding trough, under the shadow of the cross of Calvary bringing peace and a good hope for everyone everywhere!
Jesus, thank you for silent nights that allow us to hear your message more clearly. Thank you for angels that proclaim your truth to the world. Thank you for sharing this message with shepherds who were just busy with their daily tasks. Remind us that you still speak to us, even when we are distracted and busy. Holy Spirit, bring this message of hope to all who grieve and feel lonely in this season. Thank you Jesus for your great love. Amen