Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas

So, again, I am being made to think about what Christmas is all about.

"Jesus is the reason for the season"

"Santa Claus comes and brings toys to all the good girls and boys"

"It's a time for friends and family to gather together"

"It just wouldn't be Christmas without the presents"

The last quote was a line that really stood out at me from the children's christmas program I attended with my family on Sunday. It isn't Christmas without presents? Really??

My little family of four is working on what we really believe about how to celebrate Christmas. We want to have a tradition that means something to our children after they've grown and left the nest. We're not sure how to do that.

I do know that I believe that celebrating Jesus's birth is the reason we celebrate Christmas. Christ was the ultimate Gift that God gave us. The Wise Men brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh as gifts for the baby Jesus. These are all good reasons why we give gifts to each other. But how many? How expensive should they be? Do we measure expense by cost in dollars, or as an expenditure of the time spent to create the gift, or as a percentage of income? Who should spend the time to think about the gift: the gift giver, or the receiver (in writing a Christmas Wish List). Do we really gain any Christmas Cheer by giving pointless gifts to people who don't need anything anyway?

I also know that Santa Claus isn't real. We won't be having anything Santa in our home. Santa is a nice, cute story, but we will be encouraging our children to believe the truth - Santa isn't real, neither is the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. Jesus, the son of God who was responsible for many miracles in the Old Testament and capable of anything, was born to a Virgin, whose birth was announced by Angels and a Star, who was worshipped by Shepherds, who grew up and lived without sin, who died as atonement for my sins, and rose from the dead, and by faith in him I am made worthy of heaven. The real story, true as it is, is unbelievable and amazing enough to keep me from seeing a need to fill my children's heads with lies about Santa.

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is widely accepted as being a stressful time. Between decorating the home, buying and wrapping gifts, and going to parties, and baking goodies, and taking pictures, and writing and addressing and mailing Christmas Cards, singing carols, going to church....where do we find the true meaning behind all the busy-ness?? What's the point? To me there has to be a good reason to invite all this stress into my family's life.

So...the point of all this rambling writing: How to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way? Yes, it involves gifts - but how to avoid presents becoming the main event? Do we find a way to give to the needy? (anything you do unto the least of these, you do unto Me) What ways can we build meaningful holiday traditions that keep Christ the focus of CHRISTmas? I wish I had an answer for 2009....but hope to have one in place for 2010 and beyond.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What We've Been Doing Lately . . .

Since Luke was born, we've been spending a lot of time just trying to keep living life! It has been pretty hectic with our little 2 year old and our littler newborn, to care for the family between diapers and feeding and laundry and trying to keep flat surfaces clear of clutter (sort of clear, at least!). The only things that consistently got taken care of were the people - the housework and laundry are not the first priority at all! We are so thankful for our mothers, who have spent a lot of time helping out with housework and that has been such a blessing! We also had some friends bring some delicious meals to our home, which was not only a big help, but it felt great to have people to care for us in such a giving way!

The biggest problem really was my own ambition. Cora's birthday is December 8th, and I had wanted to re-do the South bedroom for her to sleep in - I made a quilt, a valance, and have sewn up pillows in the shape of a giraffe, a zebra, and an elephant. We'll soon be hanging a tiger picture on the wall, and possibly other animal pictures if we can find them. We'd wanted to move her to her Big Girl Room for her 2nd birthday. I had fully expected Luke to have been born sometime in October, since his due date was October 31st. I decided to wait until the baby was born to start on the bedroom project, and since he waited until November 10th to be born, and stayed at the hospital much longer than we'd anticipated, that was a big mistake! I had less than a month to finish all those projects, so every spare minute was spent in the sewing room. I did finish most of the sewing by her birthday party that we had on Saturday the 12th. It was a fun project, but I shouldn't have attempted it with a deadline like that with the new baby!
Sunday, December 13th, was another big day for the family, because Luke was baptized that day. My parents and grandpa and sister stayed overnight so it would be easier to make it to 8:00am church. Of course, I forgot my camera, but many others took pictures, so I am sure they will be willing to send them to me (I hope!). Luke was a good baby during the baptismal ceremony, and looked very handsome in his outfit. His grandma hosted a dinner afterwards, which was delicious!

(Cora in front of her birthday presents from her great grandparents, grandparents, aunt, and parents - the big box is filled with the animals, and wrapped in the quilt I made for her bed)

(Luke showing off one of his fitted cloth diapers - so soft, so comfy!)

(Tummy time is more fun with daddy and big sis too!)

(Cora and her baby doll, Mommy and Luke)

(Luke and Baby Doll with their Mommies in their wrap carriers - hands free is nice!)

I think we have been getting along pretty well!