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Christmas, Christmas Time is Here…

It’s been a very long time since I posted a blog entry.  It’s not that I haven’t had a lot to say, I’ve just been very very busy.  It seems like I’ve been running nonstop since sometime this summer.

The new church is absolutely awesome, and they have a LOT going on.  I ended up getting involved with the Christmas play this year, and that combined with all the toy business this time of year has made for one crazy busy season.

In any case, it’s Christmas!  I love Christmas, but the business of the season always makes it hard to really enjoy the time leading up to it.  I’m always frazzled, and tired, and stressed, and all of the get-togethers leave me longing for large January snowfalls during which I can hide in my house for a week or two of solitary enjoyment lol

But my mom was always crazy stressed around the holidays and it tended to ruin them for us growing up, so I try to make sure that once the holiday actually gets here, I sluff off the stress enough to just enjoy the celebration.

I was so rushed this year, that I was still buying presents in the afternoon on Christmas Eve.  This is even more last-minute for me than for most, as we’ve taken to doing our Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve at Mom’s house.  Thankfully, though, it didn’t take much searching for the last couple of things I needed.  Once I got to my parents’ house I was able to calm myself and enjoy the day.  Mom was still crazy stressed out, but she managed to contain it while the kids were here for the most part.

Now, I know Christmas is about Christ… I don’t do the Santa thing, and I don’t forget the true meaning of Christmas.  But I spend all year celebrating Christ, as do most of the people I know, including most of my family.  I never get overly excited about any holidays, really.  As far as Christian holidays go, though, I am drawn much more strongly towards Easter than I am Christmas, it just feels more natural to me to celebrate Christ’s sacrifice than His birth.  His birth — miracles, signs and wonders, notwithstanding — was the easy part.  I’m not sure anything we can do now really compares to the celebration God orchestrated around His birth, anyway.  God put on quite the show, and I’m not sure we add much to it with our lights and songs and historically inaccurate nativity scenes.

So while I love revisiting the story, it just doesn’t seem as much of a holy day to me as Easter does… I mean, December 25th was picked by the Roman Catholic church to line up with a pagan festival, Jesus was more likely born in September than December, so I’m a bit ambivalent about the celebration as a whole.   Giving up His life… now that’s something to celebrate.  So while I get really deeply emotional about Christ’s sacrifice come Easter time, at Christmas I find most of my enjoyment in giving and spending time with loved ones.

So, with all that out of the way, it’s been a great Christmas so far!!   It’s still a little weird to me opening presents Christmas Eve instead of Christmas morning.  We’ve had to adjust all of our traditions in recent years because the family just got too big and with the kids all getting older and starting families of their own it was too crazy trying to fit everything in.

I got a totally unexpected gift before anyone else even got here tonight.  My parents got me a new digital camera!!  It’s really nice and has all kinds of crazy features… it’s got one setting that takes a picture automatically when someone smiles, and another setting just for taking pictures of babies… I’m going to have to read the book before I figure out everything, but I checked it out a bit and started using it tonight, so I’m hoping some of the photos came out at least lol.  At one point I got the flash stuck off and couldn’t figure out how to turn it back on for a while, so I’m not quite sure what I ended up with.  My old camera was one I got used, and it still works, but it’s a very old model and I’ve been taping the battery door shut for months.  So I probably annoyed everyone playing with my camera tonight but I don’t really care, I just hope some of the pics come out lol.

We had a nice Christmas Eve service at my parent’s church.  My oldest niece sang a special with a friend from my old youth group playing backup on flute (you did great, gals!!).   I got to sit with my adopted grandma, AnnaLee.  She’s not been feeling all that well lately, so it was nice to get to spend some time with her.  She gave me an unexpected gift as well.   My pastor’s kid, David, who I used to babysit for, blessed me with a hand shake (he’s developmentally disabled, and I’m never sure if he really remembers me or not, but he grabbed me as I was going by to give me a handshake tonight.  :)   I also got to talk a bit with several other older church members I don’t see often.

Then it was home to the craziness of Christmas, I think there were 20 people here all together.   We pigged out on all of our favorite snacks, sang happy birthday to Emy (she’s a Christmas Eve baby, it’s hard to believe she’s 23 now)  and then headed down for presents.  The best part of the whole celebration for me is watching the kids light up when they get a gift they like, and we were not disappointed tonight.  Some of the cheapest gifts ended up getting the biggest reactions — that’s kind of the way it always goes.

Charlie (2) loved the second-hand sit’n’spin I got him, and has already figured out how to flip it over and turn the sound on and off.  He also latched on to one of the balloon noisemakers I gave the kids, and a little light up ball Mom got him.   The older boys liked the foam knives I made for them, and the 3-in-1 measuring tapes, but the noisemakers were a huge hit with them as well.  I think Jonathan was most excited, though, about the jeans Mom got him.  Brittany was most excited about some fuzzy socks, Kaycie a webkinz puppy, and Samantha and Katherine seemed to like the art kits Mom gave them, best.

I was surprised yet again, this time with a new drill from Mom & Dad.  I also got a ginormous tin of cookies from my sister’s family, some adorable hand-made pot holders from my niece, a s’mores kit from my brother, and a few other little things from Mom & Dad.

I get to pass out the presents, and the little kids always crowd around the front, so I usually miss seeing the older kids and the adults opening their presents, but as far as I could tell a fun time was had by all.   There were a lot of smiles, very few tears (Charlie was very tired and wasn’t feeling that great, so he had a rocky start, but cheered up by the end of the night), no fights (considering how holidays generally went when I was growing up, the lack of fights is still a big deal to me :), and no one was too sick to enjoy the evening.  An all-around win as far as I’m concerned.

I do wish Fred could have been here… I got used to spending holidays with him and I miss him most on the holidays… but we sang a Christmas song together and opened our presents from each other over the phone last night.  It’s funny how well he knows me… he got me a great gift (a new fuzzy panda blanket), but he knows me so well that he gave it with a stipulation that I have to actually use it, I can’t just put it away somewhere so it’ll stay nice (which I totally would have done!)… he knew I’d follow the rules if he laid them out like that, and sure enough I got the blanket out and used it this morning to shew away some chills when I first got up lol

All in all I got way more than I was expecting this Christmas, and there’s more to come tomorrow.  But above and beyond all the “things”, I got hugs and smiles and happy memories from happy munchkins, and my newest great-nephew Carter blessed me by sleeping in my arms for a while.   It doesn’t get much better than that. :)

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