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A Very Merry Christmas

As the day comes to a close, my mind is a jumble of thoughts tumbling around from the last couple of days. I feel like I should get them down in writing because next year will be different in ways that we cannot know. This was a Christmas to remember. Our Christmas started on the 23rd because I have to share my kids with their dad and stepmom. This was my year for Christmas Eve. I try to look at it as a bonus day, honestly. We get an extension of Christmas this way. The kids were just so excited this year to be giving gifts to each other. To go through the traditions we have established over the years. It warmed my heart to see their smiles and excitement. ❤️

Elizabeth spent hours making supper for us the night we came home from the oncologist. Cooking is her passion and she cooks and bakes like a pro. She is amazing. I really cherish the times she cooks for us. She in only 15! She outdid herself and made 4 different breakfast type casseroles, that we could also have for Christmas breakfast. We loved every single one of them! It was nearly impossible to pick a favorite and we all agreed to add the new meals to our regular menu. After eating and clean-up, we finished wrapping last minute gifts and printing photos of gifts that didn't arrive on time. As my eldest daughter rolled in after work at 8:00, we settled in for a Christmas movie together wearing our matching candy cane leggings. 😂 Usually we watch Polar Express, but we changed it up this year and watched "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus". The kids haven't seen it, but it is one of my favorites! They liked it so much, my son, who had plans to get to bed early, even stayed up to watch it all. :) It was so fun being piled on the couch under fuzzy blankets, all together with the Christmas lights all lit around us.

Through-out the night, there was lots of sneaking around as wrapped books were delivered to bedsides for morning and treasure hunt gifts were hidden. I started this tradition long ago, to keep bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, little children occupied during the wee hours of the morning while mommy tried to sleep until at least 6:30. 🙄Now however, as my children have all hit the teen years and beyond, getting up early is becoming a thing of the past. I was so excited, I barely slept and was awake half the night. 😂 My son came in at 7:30 and wanted to know why I wasn't up yet. lol. I told him I was waiting for the girls to get up and bring their books in. We always pile onto my bed and look through our books together first thing in the morning. I hear all about how excited they are about what book they got. I miss the pretty picture books we used to read from when they were little. A little loud talking, and pretty soon, the girls piled into the room and on the bed. It was an extra special year as this is the first year the kids bought me a book! Calvin and Hobbes, It's a Magical World. I am soooo excited! Calvin and Hobbes is my favorite and my kids were so thoughtful to buy and wrap me a book for the bed. Even better, as soon as Ruthie snuck in and left it at the foot of the bed at 3:00 a.m., Daisy got right up and laid next to it. Gypsy then went right over and walked all over it, trying to play with the bow. It was so funny. We carefully slept on and around it for the rest of the night. 🥰

With books out of the way, everyone headed back to their rooms to get dressed and I headed for the shower and kitchen. Next tradition is a treasure hunt through-out the house. While I make breakfast, the kids have to hunt for the first gift, which has turned into a new movie for each of them every year. This year I added a boxed up piece of unusual fruit. Upon finding the movie and fruit, everyone had to research and prepare their fruit for breakfast. Including Randy! This was a huge hit! I think we will continue with this addition to Christmas. We tried a dragonfruit, pomegranate, pepino, quince and red pears. After a fun, super yummy breakfast, everyone migrated to the living room.

Ruthie was designated to read the Christmas story this year. She has a great voice to listen to. When she finished, I shared a little tidbit with the kids that I had read earlier this week. In Bethlehem, the mangers would have been made of white limestone and used for watering the animals. They would not have been full of hay because they had green pastures year around. The animals would have been mostly out to pasture. So the manger was mostly clean and white. The swaddling cloths, made by the young woman, Mary, were actually hand embroidered wedding bands of white fabric with the two family crests carefully stitched into them. During the wedding, the bands were draped over the couples hands and later used to wrap their first born child. Traditions that we don't hear much about, gives the birth such a different outlook. My favorite song is Oh Holy Night. I've been listening to it for 40+ years and every time I hear it, it still gives me goosebumps. Every time. Tonight as I drove home from my parent's house in the dark, that song came on and I thought about those shepherds, standing out on the hillsides in the dark. As our Pastor said, anyone in those times could be a shepherd. They were low class, unloved. And yet, it was these people that those magnificent, terrifying angelic beings visited to announce the birth of a tiny, unknown baby. I thought what it must have been like to see the sky light up with blinding lights, beautiful voices and strange floating beings. And the singing! A part of me feels like, if I could imagine it, it would come close to the song, Oh Holy Night. The music is so majestic. Creates such awe in me that it gives me goosebumps. How could you not fall on your knees?? It was God's choir of angels. God's Choir. How can we fathom that?? He sent nothing but the best to announce the birth of His only Son. And that night? It changed the entire history of the world. It matters not that you believe in God. (Well it does....) That night still changed history. Because of that little baby, we celebrate Christmas, each in our own ways, and yet all united. As I drove in the dark through the city, as I have done for many Christmases, it always strikes a chord in me. The quiet. The silence. The peace. For one single day out of every year, we as a people put aside our greed, our selfishness and we focus on our families. Our God. A little baby. We leave work behind. We leave shopping behind. We focus on what is really important in this life. We are all united for one day. It is a comforting feeling in this chaotic world and discouraging time.

Back to my story. Gifts were a huge success this year. The kids and hubby outdid themselves. Everyone of them have become so caring and thoughtful and giving. It made my day so special. We had a delicious meal of ham and potatoes. Tradition again. We had pleasant conversation around the dinner table set with Christmas china, enjoying every bite of the meal. I tried so hard to imprint the memory in my mind. Maybe much like young Mary when her little babe was born. After a massive clean-up, we spent the afternoon enjoying all of our gifts, watching Polar Express, playing games, trying to figure out new electronics and eating Christmas Cake. It is always sad when the kids have to leave for their dad's, but it's the way it is. It was such a beautiful day, it was hard to be overly sad. It poured outside on all our beautiful snow, but it was so warm and loving inside, I barely even noticed. The house was full of laughter, giggles, teasing, joy, and gratefulness. The best kind of memories.

Today, Christmas day, my amazing Mom pulled together a very last minute Dinner for all of us so that no one would be home alone. It was a relaxing afternoon together along with my brother's family and amazing food and so many laughs. It is mothers that keep families together, isn't it? I find that to be the case everywhere I look. Moms are the glue that hold us together. And now, the day is coming to a close. It was a Christmas to cherish forever. If only we could live like this every day. I intend to try. To remember these happy times when the days are discouraging. I am so blessed with all that God has given me. No matter what this next year holds for us, I have beautiful memories to cherish in my heart. And now it's time to read a little Calvin and Hobbes to add just a little more laughter to my day.

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Merry Christmas family!

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