Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Christmas 2016

As it so happens when you spend three Christmases in three houses, it was a present festival that seemed unending. I haven't posted anything about Christmas because I didn't get many pictures. I don't know what my deal is lately. I just don't seem to pull out my phone camera (!) like I should. And then what happens when I get a backlog of memories from something like Christmas, I start avoiding the blog. 


The kids got a ton of presents this year, really beautiful gifts from very generous people, and it was a joy to see them open each one. I am doing so much wrong every day, but one thing that seems to be happening is that our kids are grateful kids. They had zero expectations for Christmas presents. On Christmas Eve night, they opened a beautiful crane truck from great grandma, and superhero capes from aunt Kelly. That night in bed, despite being very tired from playing with his cousins all afternoon and evening, Will couldn't sleep. "I'm too excited," he told me. "Excited for what?" I asked, assuming he was anticipating opening more gifts the next day. "Excited to play with my Christmas presents that we got tonight." He had no expectation to receive anything else the next morning, and in fact, when Nana and Papa asked them the following morning if they were ready to open their Christmas present, Will protested, "But we already got our Christmas present!"

But there it was in the garage… A Power wheels Batmobile. It was something they thought they'd never get. In fact, I had been plainly telling them, "Daddy and mommy are not buying you guys a car, and you must be thankful for whatever you get for Christmas." With their hats and coats on, they ran up to the car and immediately jumped in and started driving it. I'll try to post the link to the video.


Our time at Brian's parents house was, as always, just lovely. Brian's mom made incredible food, working tirelessly for the family despite not feeling well and having serious hip pain, I gained literally 5 pounds, the kids opened presents and toys and drove their dune buggy on unusually clear roads in the warmish weather.

I hate to make Christmas about what the kids got for presents, but when my kids get everything they want for Christmas I feel like I got everything I wanted for Christmas, too. William is so into vehicles and driving, and he's been wanting "a car that I can drive" for two years now. As long as he's had consciousness of vehicles, he's wanted to drive one. And now he can. A Power Wheels was something I always wanted as a kid (didn't we all?) but of course never got and just assumed it was one of those things I would never buy my own kids. When the kids would see one in the store I would plainly say, "Sorry, your dad is never going to get one of those for you guys." But when Brian's parents asked what the kids would really love for Christmas, I tentatively suggested this as our family gift. They didn't waste a moment and that weekend they picked the Batmobile up from Sam's Club for the boys' present. It was something SO exciting to look forward to. Long ago I had told the boys that they would never own a Power Wheels, and I know if I had not said that, it would've been the only thing they would've asked for for Christmas. As it was, they had nothing to ask for for Christmas. They didn't even know what they wanted. And so seeing their excitement over each gift was precious. And their excitement about the car was genuine and eager, the response you always imagine for children on a Christmas morning. 

Still, it was so gratifying to see that Will's response to a $.99 thrift store book from me was the same pure gratitude and excitement ... their attitudes made giving gifts to them a joy. And how can that joy not be part of Christmas??

Besides all of this, our Christmas itinerary was quite full. We spent Christmas proper (and a few days before and after) up north at Brian's parents' house. We returned on the 27th and had our own little family Christmas Eve and Christmas, when the kids opened their play kitchen that I had saved for all summer. They loved it! On the 29th we headed to my parents for Kleistmas Eve and Kleistmas Day. My mom was a huge blessing and spent a lot of the time not only cooking the food but also watching the kids, insisting I relax. I even got to play a game of Settlers, which I won! First time ever! It was delightful having the entire family together, including TJ, who is going to be a part of our family very soon. 



One of the highlights of this time was, on Kleistmas afternoon, when the holiday was nearly over and Joel and Dayna had left long before, and Erin and TJ and Matthew and Kassidy were supposed to leave for a church party for singles and young marrieds that evening. Matthew said, "Guys, let's just stay here. Maegan and Brian and the kids are here and I think I'd rather just stay and hang out with everyone." That made me feel 1000x loved. Hanging out with a family of three small kids isn't many people's idea of fun. Matthew, I love you!

So we stayed late into the night on Kleistmas day, readied the kids for bed, then drove home and plopped them into their warm beds in an otherwise very chilly house. Brian even forgot to take off Barrett's shoes. The 31st, of course, was New Year's Eve, and we spent the morning cleaning up the house and getting ready for Phil and Bit and Imogen to arrive. That evening we headed back to my parents' house where the New York people shortly joined us. The 'parents of small children' left to return to our house around 11 PM. We put the kids to bed and sat quietly talking in the living room as the new year arrived. I felt relief to say goodbye to 2016. I typically prefer even numbers over odd, and 2017 strikes me as especially odd (and I suppose I am especially odd for having a preference for numbers) but how can I not eagerly anticipate the year in which we will welcome our final member of the family and see Erin and TJ be married? 

This is the life I've dreamed of. No, scratch that out. This is more than I ever dreamed of. It's hard not to look around at our material possessions and our health and our happiness and equate that with "being blessed" when my brothers and sisters in Christ are being ruthlessly persecuted and consider themselves blessed to be persecuted for the name of Jesus. What does it mean, really, to be blessed? Am I rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing? Possibly. But let it never be said that I am not grateful. I hope that the new year will bring a new depth in my walk with Christ, so that if and when our circumstances change, and life is not as easy as it is now, I can say with all my heart, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

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