Yes, it was a festive and wonderful fun filled day of celebration for our family. We decided to celebrate on the 23rd this year, and it was a great decision. The day was calm and free flowing since we had no other obligations (sometimes we have celebrated on Christmas Eve and there is a bit of a rush to make it to church). Since it was Grace's first Christmas it was fun to watch her during all of the crazy present opening. Near the end of the day we took some family pictures. I managed to snap these two of the kids families....
As usual, we laughed so much that my stomach hurt! Ken and I gave Lia the game "Watch Ya Mouth" which was just hilarious. Most of us took turns at being really silly looking and trying to spit out some really ridiculous phrases with that plastic contraption in your mouth.
Gwen actually took some videos, that are sure to be archived for the future. Let me just say that I discovered that it is impossible to say "Pompous" with that crazy thing in your mouth. Lia and Tim were the clear winners at this game. Win or lose, it was just so much fun!
Zeke received an old pair of binoculars from us that had once been destined for donation. I was correct that these would entertain a 6 year old boy! So glad I thought to save these!
We ate lots of great food, we snacked on so much wonderful goodies, we talked and played with the kids. It was an exceptional day for our family.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were very quiet and calm for Ken and I. It started to gently snow on Christmas Eve and progressed to a measurable amount of snow. It was so nasty that we decided to forgo the Christmas Eve church service. I was very grateful that Gwen and Tim's church does a "live stream", so I was able to attend a wonderful Christmas Eve Worship while tucked warmly in my bed! It was extra special since Gwen was leading worship. Christmas Day was FREEZING cold, so Ken and I never ventured out of the house. We watched a couple of Christmas movies and just had a lazy day. I made a couple batches of cookies and we snacked our way through the day. No big dinner for us!
Yes, this has been a transitional year for us in so many ways. Ken is still "on vacation" technically - since his retirement doesn't officially begin until January 1. There was one point last week when neither Ken nor I could remember what day of the week it was! I actually had to stop and check! Both Susie and Gwen are off of work for the holidays so even my "routine" is off. Susie took advantage of her time off, to have Ken show her some photo editing software that he uses. So I got to spend a bit of time with Grace at OUR house!
We had so much fun playing while Susie and Ken talked all things camera! So glad that I got a bit of Grace time in during this holiday time!
I can't help be feel so thankful, looking back at this last week. Our family was able to have a wonderful day together - with no one sick! This is really something to be thankful for since so many families had virus' and colds and other ickiness. I got to thinking about my own family and the many Christmas memories I have. Interestingly, I realized that it has been 40 years since I had Christmas with any of my siblings or my mom and dad. After my folks retired to Minnesota in 1977, I never had another "family" Christmas. I think that is why it is so important for me to make the time and make sure that I am spending time with my children and grandchildren.
The first Christmas that Ken and I spent with no family was Christmas 1978. I was pregnant with Gwen and we had just moved into this house the previous February. Our neighbors Roger and Carol, felt really bad that we had no family plans for the holiday. So they invited us over for Christmas Eve. They had several family parties on Christmas Day, but made the time for us on Christmas Eve. Their little boy was just a few months old. Carol decided to make a duck dinner when she heard that we had never had duck. We enjoyed the dinner and returned home shortly after, since the next day would be busy for them. Around midnight we received a phone call that both of them were really sick with stomach troubles and they feared it might be food poisoning. Thankfully, both Ken and I were feeling fine. I offered to come and get the baby since they were both so sick. So that Christmas morning, I was caring for a sweet little two month old boy while wondering what the next Christmas would be like with our own expected baby. That was a most welcome diversion for me, since it would have been a really sad holiday for me. I often think back to that day and marvel at God's provisions for us, even through a sick neighbor and a baby that needed someone to care for them. Jesus knew just what I needed. And he also knew that Roger and Carol would need someone to help with the baby. Thankfully, neither Ken nor I ever got sick! Quite the memory from so many years ago.
We are entering into a new season in 2018. I imagine that next Christmas will seem very different than now. After Lucas died in 2014, it seemed that Christmas would never be the same. But the truth is, every season is different! Each year holds memories and laughter and joy all their own. Even if you hold fast to "traditions", everyone is a year older next year! Time marches on.
2017 Christmas was the wonder of a "first" Christmas for our family. It was laughter and fun. It was calm and peaceful. A perfect holiday and a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of our Savior.
Jesus, thank you for families and your plan for us to be together. Holy Spirit, remind us all that Christmas is about peace and love and how much the Father cares for us. Thank you for lights and glistening stars and yes, thank you for snow on Christmas! Amen