Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Reflections 2013

On this second day of Christmas, the Love Bugs are still flying high from all of the celebrations.  We have had a lovely past few days.  Christmas Eve began with us going to Mass and then returning home to host Monkey's side of the family. Sweet Potato, Gummi and Cucumber entertained us with their piano solos and duets, and Honey Bunches serenaded us with Tom Petty's "Free Falling" on his guitar.  Christmas Day we stayed in our pajamas as long as we could before heading over to Sissy #1's house for a prime rib dinner, gifts and games. Ah yes, and the ever loved eggnog station. We played "Balderdash" which had us laughing until we cried.  We pretty much all collapsed in our beds last night.  Today was about recovery for me, as I think if I had been afforded, I may have slept the entire day.  As I am writing this, Monkey is ice-fishing, the boys are gone overnight, Cucumber is reading on the Kindle, Pumpkin is stickering on a stack of papers, Sweet Pea is coloring and Gummi is working in an activity book.

A few minutes ago we gathered for our evening family prayer, continuing with the Jesse Tree symbol and reading.  Tonight's scripture was Luke 2:8-20.  There are many passages I hold dear, but my two favorite scrpiture passages are Psalm 139 and this one from Luke, "And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart."  These words never fail to move me.  They are simple, yet beautiful. They are full of wisdom and love.

This reading is so timely, as I sit and reflect on the Christmas season.  There were so many moments that I wanted to freeze time.  I desperately want to remember certain conversations and funny stories.  I wanted to capture feelings of contentment, joy, and gratitude.  These reflections I never want to forget.  I want to hold them in my heart forever.  No other time during the year seems to remind me more of the preciousness and fleeting of time, than Christmas.  It is a season where my heart aches for the absence of those loved ones who have passed, and increases my home-sickness for those who live far away.

For Mary, she held close the message that had been revealed to the Shepards about the Christ child.  As a mother, I can only imagine all the thoughts and emotions racing through this gentle and faithful woman at that instant.  I have often wondered, that as she held Baby Jesus in her arms and gazed into his eyes, did she too long to remember that moment forever?  Did she too want to freeze time and keep Jesus "little" for awhile longer?  As she knelt at the foot of the cross, did she think back to that time in the stable?

As our family continues to celebrate these days of Christmas, I will continue to challenge myself to hold close all that is dear, with the Holy Family as my model.

With all that being said, here are a few fun comments from my kids.

Before Christmas, we were at a gathering where there was a drawing.  Someone got up and announced, "We'll now be drawing for the door prizes."  Sweet Pea asked, "What kind of prizes does a door give away?"

Pumpkin needed a bandaid for a small cut on her finger.  Since she is a "big" girl, she wanted to do it herself. After I had watched her struggle with the application of the bandaid, I asked, "Can I give you a hand with that?"  Pumpkin said, "No.  I've got it under control."

A few Saturdays ago we were attending one of Sweet Potatoes basketball games.  The girls had packed a tote bag with "essentials."  Honey Bunches had offered to carry the bag into the gym for us.  Half way there he said, "Did you girls really need to pack so much?  Just remember, there are people in this world without water bottles, snacks and boardgames!"

Well said, my little philanthropist.

On our way to Christmas Eve Mass
The Eggnog Station
My favorite Christmas decoration this year; Gummi posed as an elf.
The "warm-up" after playing in the snow.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Advent, Feast Days, and Yoga Pants

Welcome to Christmas vacation!  It was a bit of a thrill this morning to wake up without an alarm.  It's the little things in life, isn't it?  I haven't written anything for almost a month.  So much has taken place and life's busyness has occupied our time.  Here's a quick review of the last few weeks.


Monkey and I hosted Thanksgiving for 33 people at our home.  We were a little nervous about space, but in the end, it all worked out well.  It was a day that had my heart brimming with grace and gratitude.

The boys are playing basketball through Community Education.  They practice twice a week and play games on Saturdays.  Beginning in January, we will have to divide and conquer, as the boys have different game locations.

We celebrated the Feast of St. Nicholas on December 6th.  The kids left their shoes outside their bedroom doors and the next morning they discovered small gifts within them.  On the 13th we celebrated St. Lucy with braided sweet bread, adorned with candles, and reading about her life.

Last year at this time, I was so busy trying to make sure that we were making Advent meaningful, that I think I missed the mark a bit.  I'm a big fan of the concept, "don't reinvent the wheel," and so this year we are using a Jesse Tree Kit.  It has simplified our lives and is giving our family a really beautiful and meaningful reflection each night.  We pray, we read scripture, we learn about the day's symbol, we pray some more and then we end with singing a verse of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."

Our Advent table with our Wreath and Jesse Tree
Today is December 21st and we still do not have our tree up or cards sent out and not one cookie has been baked.  I haven't purchased any gifts, with the exception of gift exchanges the kids had in school.  I am at a point where I have to be o.k. with "not doing it all."  So with 4 days until we host Christmas Eve, we are being very intentional with what gets done.  Sometime today the kids and I well erect our tree.  Monday, the Love Bugs and I will make some gingerbread.  And as for gifts?  Well, we have scaled back.  I've been teasing the kids by asking, "who gets presents on your birthday?"  They reply, "We do."  "And who gets presents on Jesus' birthday?"  If nothing else, it gives them something to think about.   I did attempt a group photo the evening of the kids school Christmas program.  I asked Monkey if he could doctor it up for a card.  This is what he came up with.

There's just something not quite right about Wise Men and camels walking on the back of our sofa.  We're going to keep this one for ourselves and our own amusement for years to come.

Yoga Pants
A little over a week ago I threw my back out.  I was retrieving something from the refrigerator and fire shot down my legs and across my lower back.  I managed to shuffle to a chair and wait for Monkey to get home from work.  I was panicked because Monkey was leaving at 5 a.m. the following morning on a 4 day trip and I couldn't imagine handling our household with feeling the way I did.  I was blessed in a few different ways.  1) Thanks to Sweet Potato's confidence in the kitchen, he cooked supper for the family that night.  2) Due to a snow storm, school was two hours late the following day.  I was able to get into the chiropractor within that time frame.  3) Upon my return home from the chiropractor, we were notified that school was closed for the day.  That was a huge relief.  4) Getting dressed was difficult and so I relied on my yoga pants which transitioned from day wear to lounge wear (pj's) with ease.  Gummi helped me get dressed, which was humbling, yet necessary.  She may never fully realize how much I appreciated her help.

In other news, Sweet Potato, Gummi Bear and Cucumber had a Christmas piano recital which was lovely.  Sweet Pea had a touch of the stomach flu, but has already bounced back to heatlh.  Honey Bunches is excelling at guitar and Pumpkin LOVES being the only child home during the day.  I'll share more about that at another time.  So I think that brings us up to date.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas celebration.  Take time to live in the present and savor the little things.  God's blessings to you all!  Merry Christmas!