Saturday, December 27, 2008


christmas is so much more exciting with young children in the house. i love being the mom who gets to coordinate the christmas and advent activities, and create traditions and stimulate the excitement that the kids have for this day.

my mom was like that in our household growing up. she died when i was 15, and we tried to keep a semblance of christmas together for a year or two, but the magic had flown. i remember that first christmas; here's how my dad did presents: we all went on a shopping outing at some point in december. he gave us each $50 and told us to buy ourselves christmas presents, and to meet back in an hour. it was kinda fun, but it wasn't christmas. my mom had always known what to get that we would love, even though we never made christmas lists in our family. after a few years we didn't even bother setting up the tree anymore because we couldn't be bothered to take it back down again. i am so glad that it has all become fun for me again.

the other thing i grew up with in my family and plan to continue for my children is the lack of the santa claus fable. of course we knew "about" santa claus--how can you not these days--but my parents never made him out to be real, and i am grateful. people who grew up with the fable of s.c., for example, and then become christians, have the dilemma of what to do about santa, because they remember how magical it was to believe in him, and yet probably don't want their kids having that focus instead of Jesus. for me--not an issue at all, see? i didn't know what i was missing! christmas, let me tell you, is magical for a child, period. santa or no santa.

well every time december rolls around, i start singing christmas carols to sparrow in the car. i know she loves it when i do these things for her. this year she would ask for christmas songs at various times. like one night when she was going to bed. "can i have a christmas carol?" "ok," i said, "which one do you want? joy to the world, deck the halls, or silent night?" she said, "duck to the holes!" alright!
"duck to the holes with boughs of holly, fa la la la la, lala la laaaaaaa..."

another great christmas moment happened this year when we encountered our neighbor janny out in the parking lot one morning. she was wearing a sweater with houses, snow, snowman, etc. depicted on it. sparrow said, "is janny wearing a christmas sweater?"
me: "yeah!"
sp: "christmas lives in winter."
j: "and you live in warm weather."
sp: "no, i live in january!"
oh, naturally! i was half expecting her to say california.

it was a lovely christmas season. we did advent every night that we could manage it, including a wreath with candles, and a jesse tree with specific readings about jesus' ancestors, and crafts. i haven't got a lot of advent songs down yet, but christmas songs work just as well. i cut out a jesse tree out of paper grocery bags (the blank back side) and made up the crafts as we went along. i had gotten some suggestions for characters and their symbols from a website (abraham-star, boaz-sandal, etc.) but we improved the craft and method according to our materials and creativity. sparrow still asks for advent crafts, and the jesse tree looks so fun that i don't want to take it down!

we celebrated christmas eve and christmas a day early because we were supposed to be traveling on the 25th. it was all really fun, i made a nice dinner on our "christmas eve." and mince pies--vegetarian (the idea of sweet beef grosses me out)--which i had been really excited to try, but have concluded that a simple apple pie is more satisfying. and we read the nativity story and had good family times.
From december 08

From december 08

on our "christmas day" we had french toast, bacon (which i seem to never eat anymore but on christmas), sweet chicken apple sausage, and opened presents and packages from germany! these are my favorite nowadays. my sister sent a fabulous one, as did this woman erika motzkus, who was like a second mother to my mom. she never forgets us at christmas time, even though i bet it's been over 10 years since i've seen her. it's not christmas without the german chocolate. a friend had given me money to buy sparrow (and golden) christmas presents, so i had thought about it and ended up buying her s bunch of clothes, which she really needed. i had gotten a bit panicky about which gimmicky toys she would like best and then i remembered: she doesn't need more "stuff." she says she wants something but usually doesn't end up playing with things that much unless i am playing with her. what she needs is more focused time with me. that is what she'll remember. but i had the best time picking out clothes at naartjie. we had been praying for months for some long-sleeved shirts for sparrow, expecting them to show up at the doorstep, but this is how God provided for that. along with another friend who had asked us what she needed and bought shirts for her! her really special present was a pair of real ballet slippers. she had been confiscating golden's mary-jane socks and stretching/wearing them out, calling them her ballet slippers, so i thought it might be time she get some real ones. melissa had also found a kids' ballet bar and saved it for us. the other favorite was a pink suitcase/backpack with stuffed pig included, from uncle. and a pink princess blanket/pillowcase that i had found at ross several months earlier, and had saved for chritmas. as for golden, she didn't care that she didn't get much. the only year i can get away with that! but i wrapped for her a little stuffed dog and soft blankie that cybil had given me for golden's baby shower. and a blanket that larry and paula had handed down, that we hadn't used yet. basically, golden just wanted to eat the paper and curly ribbons. yeah!

we had several soups, as well as crackers with a cheese torta thing, dates, cuties, cookies, etc. set out to eat throughout the day. the soups was an idea from one of the MOPS ladies. she said her family never cooks big meals on christmas but has a variety of soups cause no one wants to be that busy in the kitchen all day long. what a brilliant suggestion. plus, it was really christmas eve for everyone else, so we were going to church in the evening. i think we should have church on christmas night every year. a great way to end christmas. and when the kids were in bed, i listened to christmas music and sipped mulled wine while i packed our things for arizona. too lovely, and the weather all cold outside. see, the kids brought the excitement back into this, but it lingers on even when i am by myself.

From december 08

From december 08

From december 08

From december 08

in our christmas (eve) finery

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