Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas in Our House

(Here's a pic at my house, where the only lights on are a little lamp and the tree and mantle, at 12:15 am on Christmas morning)

Hi Friends,

Christmas at our house has always been a special time. Since leaving retail (where I worked for seven years after college and only was able to come home for 3 of the Christmases), I have been able to be home for Christmas every year but one of the last five. One of the years, I traveled to Seattle and celebrated with my aunts like we used to when I lived in Seattle and couldn't take vacation because of store schedules. Anyway, every year my mom would say, "You should be here for Christmas, it could be grama's and grampa's last one!" and every year I would tease her about saying that every year, and say that I wasn't going to bow down to her guilt tactics!

Well, it turns out that last Christmas was our last with grampa, and so in thinking back on those years I got to spend with him here, I am so grateful that my mom reminded me of the fleeting-ness of life and encouraged me to come home each year - even when I didn't have much money to get here.

Christmas was the one time every year that my grandparents felt like they could take an extra day off their job and come to my parents' house in Phoenix, so it was often the only time I was able to see them each year. I was really blessed that this year I was able to see my grandparents in June (after graduation) and again in August (right before grampa passed away). The Lord really does know what we need, and I don't know that I could have managed as well if the last time I had seen grampa was a year ago.

At our house, when we were little and there seemed like there were many presents, we used to open one up on Christmas Eve. The rule was that mom and dad picked out the Christmas Eve present – so it was usually socks or slippers; something that we could wear to bed or the next morning. It was always fun to get new PJ’s for Christmas and be able to wear them Christmas morning. That tradition stopped when we were in High School, I guess, but we still have a few traditions.

On Christmas Eve, my mom makes Chicken Enchiladas for dinner (weird, but true!) and then we go to church together. Afterward, mom, dad, ben, and I, either watch a movie or play a board game. (Grama and grampa usually went to bed right after church). While we play/watch, mom and I put together our breakfast for the morning called: Sunrise Sausage Souffle. It goes in the fridge overnight, so it just has to pop in the oven in the AM and no one has to slave over a stove. My mom and I put together the stockings (we still do stockings, for all the family members, no matter what age!) and the get set out that night as we all go to bed, to open in the AM.

In the morning (now that we are older, we sleep in a little), we put on some Christmas music, open gifts, drink coffee, eat and then most everyone takes a nap… while we start working on Christmas dinner: Ham, green bean casserole, “potatoes Christine”, and fruit salad.

Its fun to have these little traditions, but also to be older and know that we can relax about it and not have to be on a schedule or try to make sure things get done at certain times. I always feel like our celebration of Christmas is a celebration of family. I know that technically, that isn’t the message of Christmas, but when I think of the baby with his parents in a manger, I think – well, at those moments, I’m sure Joseph and Mary were so grateful to God for the delivery of this little boy, and they rejoiced in their family. And so I hope the Lord is pleased that on this day when we celebrate his birth, we also rejoice in gratitude for our family: those who can be with us, those who are passed and who we will see again in heaven (my dad’s parents and my mom’s dad), and those who are far away (my dad’s sisters and their families, my mom’s sister and her family).

I am so grateful to the Lord for the men and women in my family tree. I’m grateful for the opportunity to shower them with little gifts that will bring them joy, and which are only a shadow of the gifts the Lord has for us in heaven. And I’m grateful for knowing Christ, the little baby that was sent to earth to redeem all people unto God. May our Christmas be a reflection of his presence in our midst, and also of his sacrificial love. Blessings to you this Christmas day.