Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What Did You Get for Christmas??

You know, it really doesn’t matter what was wrapped up under the tree with my name on it….I find that the best gifts are the laughter of gathered friends and family, lights and gingerbread houses, decorations and eating peppermint sweets, cocoa with clouds of whip cream and too many cookies. We have had a full week of reindeer games, dinner parties and afternoon naps. Perfect way to celebrate the life that God sent to us is by living and embracing the life He set before us. Looking back over our week, I am reminded how blessed we are in this department of life.

Our family walked down Gemini Court, which is a street with the largest electric bill in town…so many lights and mechanical decorations, THINK: Disneyland’s It’s A Small World crammed on one bright street. We happened to pick the night that Santa visited, so every crying toddler and stroller packed the sidewalks, while hay rides and Thomas the Train carted kids up and down the street. It really did have that Disneyland feel to it. The best part was that we dressed up one of our wiener dogs like Santa and she was a hit amongst the kids.

My friend’s birthday is 6 days before Christmas and I think that is a tough birthday to have. Tired of overlooking her special day, we threw her a party. LRC (left, right, center) is the new game around here and it is a simple dice game that requires only knowledge of your right and left direction. Another night we cruised our hood with our neighbors, enjoying peppermint cocoa and feeling the crisp California winter air nip at our noses, while admiring the lights. Afterward, we watched the Grinch and my youngest had never seen it all the way through. That  Grinch tale will never get old.

Tuesday we went to dinner at our friends (they make the best martini’s) and attended our church Christmas program together. Don’t martini’s and church go together? Maybe, just at Christmas time? Mabye? It was a great show with dancing, singing and an amazing guest speaker who was born without arms and legs. I left feeling inspired by the true meaning of Christmas and thankful for my limbs. Now that is a gift!

 Other highlights included Christmas Eve dinner at our home and Santa Tom visited for the 13th year in a row. Our dear friend, who has donned the red suit since our youngest was born, comes to pass out candy canes and listen to the children’s requests. It is  fun to watch my boys, who have now figured out that it is our friend Tom. “Santa” is still Santa to a couple kids in the group, so there is still a little magic that fills the room.

On Christmas morning we have a tradition and that is to read the Christmas Story from the Bible and say a family prayer of Thanksgiving before ripping into all the presents. Years ago, my husband read the story, then Lucas grew old enough to read, and finally, Dan is fully literate. This was the first year both kids shared the reading. It is a solid tradition that keeps the perspective of what all this hoopla is for.

 After opening gifts we went to my folks who live in town. Every year we play what we titled “The Christmas Tree Game’. It was invented about 7 years ago and it is a cardboard tree board game. When your game piece travels down the tree , landing on different “ornaments”, you are commanded to pull from a pile of gifts, open a gift, swap gifts (players bring three wrapped gifts… a white elephant, a purchased anything and something homemade). Some game spots make you sing a Christmas carol as fast as you can, kiss someone or lose a turn among; other things. No doubt everyone wants to walk away with the most desirable gifts…..but it is a game of chance. I felt a bit bad for my older sister who left the game with the white elephant gift my husband brought; a five gallon camping shower and old frame….a zonker gift! However, I don’t feel THAT bad because for Christmas Santa brought her two tickets to Italy.

In years past, we would be leaving for Bass Lake for New Years with two other families. It did not work out this year, so we are doing the fun things that we would do in Bass Lake right here….like ice skating and spending the New Years Eve together in pajamas and having a talent show. It is nice to know that the kid’s music lessons have purpose, and this year I might attempt a little comedy routine.

You can see and hear that we are absorbing every ounce of Christmas joy that we can, especially since my hubby has two weeks off from work….that is why we need our afternoon naps…..late nights, Christmas Nogg and chattering takes its toll ,so extra sleep is needed to keep up the holiday pace.

 Again, I note that my favorite part of the Christmas Season are the fun connections that accompany it ….oh yeah, and I really LOVE my silver cross necklace from my husband…..THE cross….just another reminder of why this time of year carries an over abundance of joy.

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