Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas highlights

Christmas this year was a mixture of quiet contentment and unending activity.  Quite a combination.  We stayed in Massachusetts and celebrated Christmas with Charles' parents who live nearby.   Ironically, despite the fact that my family was far away, there were these wonderful bits of tradition that somehow made their presence known throughout Christmas.  First of all, my Gram from Florida sent some wonderful oranges (yes, special ones straight from Florida that could never be replicated in the grocery aisles of New England).  It was a little piece of sunshine.  Babci (my great grandmother) sent me home from my last trip to Delaware with peirogies.  Pierogies have been a staple for our Christmas eve dinner throughout my life.  It wouldn't feel the same without them.  Although Babci's cooking could never be replicated, pierogies made their appearance on our table Christmas eve.  A little piece of family tradition that means more than the pierogies themselves.  My parents and sister sent gifts and Kirstan and I had a wonderful chat on Christmas eve that temporarily cured my homesickness.  With some time to reflect on our day, I realized that despite the fact that my family was not physically present, they were well represented in everything we did thoughout the day.  I am proud of the traditions that we carry out and even prouder of how they have come to be real in our lives.
Here are our favorite moments:
Scout is still waiting for a Santa sighting...
 Julia dressed for Christmas eve service.  Don't let that cuteness fool you.  We let her go to the front of the church for the children's message.  Charles and I had her contained from each side (we were waiting for her in the side pews).  While attempting to adjust herself on each child's lap to hear the message, she just couldn't get comfortable so she ran down the center aisle to escape.  It was the longest children's message ever!  And Julia pulled out all of her tricks for it!
 Christmas morning. Taking it all in.
Once she figured out that these packages were for her, she decided that she wanted to place them throughout the living room.  Santa should have sent blocks this year.  She was perfectly content stacking and unstacking the presents.
And the wrapping paper.  Oh the joy!
 Favorite gift of the day?  Daddy found her a perfectly sized Grays field hockey stick. 
The start of something wonderful!
 We woke up openening gifts and ended the day opening gifts.  I realize that not every Christmas will be this slow and methodical, but it was nice to watch Julia unwrap each gift with great intent.
 Post Christmas pajama day.  Julia and daddy are watching some cartoons in her new fort/tent.  She grabs her blanket and is perfectly happy in her own little space. 
We will wait out the blizzard from here.
Merry Christmas! 
May you experience the joy of family and the peace of faith in each moment of the holiday!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas (an 18 month old's perspective)

Here is just a quick glimpse of our lives over the past week as we continue to prepare for Christmas. Seeing all of this from Julia's perspective has been so much fun as she attempts to make sense of these traditions.  Each part is a wonderful opportunity to practice the presence of the moment as she learns (and I relearn) why we celebrate as we do.
Watching for Santa (and squirrels).  She's not quite sure which is more exciting. 
Scout votes for the squirrels.

Playing with her manger scene - we have to remind her to be careful from time to time, but for the most part she is enthralled by arranging and rearranging each piece. She likes to separate the animals and she is pretty perplexed by the fact that the manger is empty.  (Jesus is waiting for His arrival on the 25th).  Julia walks around with her hands up calling for Jesus. 

And Christmas tree shopping, which is always a daunting task in our household.  My goal in choosing a tree is to pick the perfectly imperfect tree.  The one that will look beautiful in our home, but will probably go unselected by those seeking perfection.  It's my Charlie Brown perspective that has been instilled in me since my own childhood.  This year I attempted to pass this on to Julia, but she was pretty content to run up and down the hill.  She was also pretty excited that she had a pine tree companion in the back seat with her for the ride home. 
Next year.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Joyful Joyful!

The month of November could probably be classified as the most "interesting" month that we have survived as a family.  We have so much to be grateful for and we have successfully accomplished several major feats including the official completion of our kitchen and dining room remodel and some other special projects. :)
Now that November is behind us, Christmas time is approaching with great speed (as always).  As of today, December 9th, we have yet to get a tree and our decorations remain packed neatly in their tupperware bins.  Our only reminder of Christmas is our wooden advent tree - a focal point in our dining room that helps us to slow down each day to prepare in this advent season.  It has kept me grounded.  The decorations don't matter yet, the preparation is the important part.  Today our advent challenge is JOY. We told Julia that we are joyful because we are anticipating Christ's birth (she is pretty excited about Jesus lately and has started folding her hands as we pray to Him).  Charles gave Julia a goofy demonstration of how we show joy and then asked Julia to show us how she shows joy.  She promptly broke out in a very excited clap for us.  It's these simple gifts that remind us of the true meaning of this season.  Sometimes life gives us reasons to stop.  Our recent circumstances have caused us to do this, which has been such a gift for our family.  We have had a "we will just do what we can" perspective, which has allowed us to rally as a family and invest in the important things this Christmas.  Other times, we must be ever mindful of our need to slow down and just enjoy the ride.  Being in the presence of a child is the ultimate excuse to do this! 
Here are a few of my simple JOYS over the past few weeks:
A new found love for the hide-n-seek - a great game when new cabinets go in.
Celebrating Thanksgiving with some great family and friends.
Enjoying our cozy comforts of home in our new kitchen.
 And enjoying some family time after the turkey trot.
Where do you find joy this Christmas?