Lessons from Christmas

Christmas is over. The tree is down. The lights are packed away and we’ve finally found a normal schedule again. I think.

But as I reflect on the craziness of the last few weeks I’ve decided that this Christmas season has taught me a few lessons.

1. When you give your brother-in-law an elf hat for Christmas and he puts it on with his new safety glasses and then he grabs a tape measure and pretends to be one of Santa’s elves making toys – you immediately take a picture and put it on your blog.

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Because you can.

And it’s hilarious and he will never see it anyway.

I hope.

2.  Changing all the light bulbs in the house on Christmas Eve day to LED might make sense economically – but will create bad lighting for selfies and other photo ops and drive your camera loving daughter crazy.

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And certainly don’t help my photography skills. Or lack thereof.

But aren’t those kids cute! (just missing a son-in-law who was on duty Christmas Eve!)

3. After 26 years of attempting a beautiful ice cream log for Christmas – I have finally accepted the fact that it will never look good and will quite possibly always look like something less than attractive.

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And well – less than appetizing.

Which is why we shall always eat by candlelight on Christmas Eve.

3. The stomach flu is always nasty – but it’s extremely unwelcome when it attacks on Christmas Day.

No pictures. You’re welcome.

4. Having a house full of family can wipe out a stocked refrigerator quickly. I took three grocery runs the week between Christmas and New Years – mostly for coffee and vegetables.

The coffee I expected but the veggies were a new and surprising development.

5. Speaking of surprising developments – I have lots of Christmas goodies now hidden in the freezer. While my children pigged out over Christmas weekend, by New Year’s they had decided to eat healthy.

Go figure.

At their current rate of consumption, Jan and Buddy should have them gone by Easter. I hope.

6. I love playing games with the family at Christmas. Really, really love it.

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Especially new games like this one – Ticket to Ride.  Which is my new obsession.

I even won a few times – at least until my new son-in-law arrived. Hmmm…somebody should tell that guy it’s not good manners to beat your Mother-in-law at her favorite new game, at her house on Christmas. Good thing I like the guy.

7. Actually – I love them all – the whole crazy bunch! And carving out time together with crazy schedules to be together is the best Christmas memory of all!

Hope your holidays were special!

 

Christmas Week?! Already?!

How did it get to be Christmas week already?

It seems like just yesterday we got home from Thanksgiving and put up the tree!

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And adjusted it three days later before it fell over.

When we unashamedly turned to all Christmas music all the time.

It wasn’t that long ago that Laura and Steven came over and we made Christmas happen in the kitchen.

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Spritz cookies.

Oreo truffles.

Cookie dough truffles.

Chocolate covered pretzels.

 

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Actually – chocolate covered everything!

The Sunday school kids blessed my heart again this year at the nursing home and did a fabulous job performing the Christmas program a week later.

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The 4H Christmas party was a success – especially the cookie plates we made and delivered to the shut-ins in our community.

It’s been a busy month.

We’ve shopped, wrapped, baked, and watched a multitude of Christmas movies.

The Christmas letters are written and in the mail.

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We made memories with extended family, my folks for a couple of days and Jan’s family for an early Christmas.

And now suddenly – Christmas is less than a week away!

 

The kids will start to arrive on Thursday and our house will be overflowing with love and laughter.

We’ll eat too much, laugh till we cry, surprise each with gifts, and in a quiet moment on Christmas Eve with candles in hand, we’ll let Christmas come.

And then – in the blink of an eye it will over.

Just like December.

Please Lord, help me slow down and savor!

Let There Be Light

800px-Raggio_di_luce_(478959076)My husband recently purchased several LED light bulbs. I didn’t really pay any attention until he replaced the burned out bathroom bulb with one of the new LED ones.

I was surprised by how bright it was!

So bright that the bathroom that I thought was clean now looked dingy and dirty.

It’s amazing what light reveals.

Last fall I spent several days washing all 50 windows in our old farmhouse. It was late afternoon when I finally finished the ten windows in the sun room.

The next morning as I stepped into the room to admire my hard work, I looked to the east and was shocked to see that one of the windows was absolutely filthy.

Then I remembered a phone call that had interrupted my work the day before. In the distraction, I must have forgotten to finish that window.

What was unnoticed in the dusk, was painful highlighted in the full sun of the morning.

It’s amazing what light reveals.

Have you ever lost something in the cavernous depths of the closet?

Stubbed your toe on the bed while answering a child’s cry at midnight, then fumbled finding the door knob in the blackness?

It’s amazing what light reveals.

It both illuminates and exposes.

It can drive away the scary monsters in a toddler’s room at night.

It allows a plant to feed itself with photosynthesis and grow.

It guides ships safely into harbor.

Just a few weeks ago we sat in a dark church on Christmas Eve holding candles and reflecting on the birth of the baby in the manger.

The Light of the World.

“I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Why are we stumbling around in the darkness of unbelief?

Why are we being tossed around by the angry seas of circumstances?

Why are we allowing the monsters of fear, uncertainty, discouragement, and worry scare us?

We have the Light of the World!

Away with the darkness, enough of the night!

Let there be Light!

Photo credit: Raggio di luce

The Thirteen Days of Christmas

Thirteen days.

A house full of kids.

Four gallons of Chex mix.

Chocolate dipped everything.

An entire ham devoured.

Hundreds of games of Dominion.

Epic Minecraft battles.

Laughter.

Teasing.

Inside jokes.

Time with special friends.

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Late nights.

Lazy mornings.

Pots of coffee.

And now it’s over.

Matt flew out yesterday.

Pedro’s back at work today.

Dagmar’s preparing for next semester.

Christmas is put away.

The snowmen collection is out.

My house is quiet.

My couch is waiting.

My heart is happy.

And it is good.

Holiday Nostalgia

Isn’t it amazing how pulling out the Christmas decorations brings back the memories?

Each ornament on the tree has a story. From the angel on the top that we bought our first Christmas together, to the five baby’s first Christmas ornaments, and the Swedish dala horses the kids painted with Grandma, each piece is unique to our family and to our history.

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Then there’s the Plasticine nativity set we used when the our children were little. Pedro was so entranced with the donkey that he took it to nap time every day. He loved it so much the ears broke off. Replace it? Never. That ear-less donkey is as much a part of our Christmas as the red Christmas stockings made by Aunt Teresa.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised by our reactions when, at Thanksgiving, Mom asked my sisters and I to look through a box of Christmas decorations before she donated them.

What a flood of nostalgia!

I could almost smell the Christmas tree, taste the peanuts in my bag from Santa, and hear the song “I’m Getting Nuttin’ for Christmas”!

Almost.

Most of the decorations got taken quickly – each of us finding that bit of home and childhood we wanted.

Most of the decorations – but not all.

There was this one.

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The plastic holly Christmas tree thing that mom had hanging on the front door every year.

We all remembered it. It was an integral part of Christmas – just like the presents from Santa Claus and saying our pieces at the Children’s Christmas Program on Christmas Eve.

Yet the circa 1970’s plastic thing had none of the charm of the little elf wind chime, or the collection of teddy bear ornaments that had already been chosen.

None of us really wanted it.

Yet nobody could quite let it go. Imagine some stranger at Salvation Army buying our Christmas memory?  Unthinkable!

As we stood around the bed in the guest room, staring at our Christmas past, the solution suddenly became crystal clear.

We would pass it around.

Each year one of us would be gifted that lovely bit of plastic history and would have to (oops! I mean “get to”) display it that Christmas season.

And record it with a picture.

I was first.

It is now hanging in all it’s plastic glory in my sun room for all my guests to see.

Then, when Christmas is over, it will be carefully packed, ready to appear next Thanksgiving when another sibling will get to take it home.

Thus our Christmas past becomes a part of Christmas present and a new tradition is born from an old one.

Perfect!