I’ve been thinking a lot this advent season (and now into the Christmas season) about what my boys will remember. When they reach my age, what will still be sticking in their minds? If I had to guess, I’d say that they won’t remember specific gifts. They won’t remember that we had the perfect tree in 2017. They may not remember being angels in the church Christmas pageant. They certainly won’t remember the delicious meal Nathan and I cooked since they hardly ate any of it! Rather than creating perfect details, perfect gifts, or joy-filled frenzies of wrapping paper ripping, I wanted to create lasting traditions. Because while they may not remember our perfect tree, I’m hoping they remember that every year we went to the farm together to choose our tree. And while they may not remember a delicious meal, I’m hoping they do remember that each year we gathered with family and extended family to give thanks to God and enjoy each other’s company. While they may not remember ever even having those perfect presents, I hope they learn the true gift given us in the incarnation.
After seven years, you’d think I’d have learned a thing or two about parenting. But every year I still hope for a magical Christmas for myself and for my children. Christmas is never magical. There are lots of tears. The routine is upset. Everything is overwhelming. But Christmas is always joyful in the aggregate. There is a big difference between magical and joyful!
So here are some family memories from our advent/Christmas 2017 season:
We drove out into the country to find our Christmas tree. We stomped around in the mud looking for the tree that was right for us. We found a lot of huge trees, and a lot of tiny trees, and it took awhile to find our just right tree. My parents came along and helped us. Caleb mostly liked stomping in mud puddles. Simon was mostly interested in the chocolates that Ama brought as a treat for him. Elias found something wonderful about every tree. Here we are posed in front of the tree we eventually chose (Caleb with chocolate staining his mouth).
We’ve been a part of the St. Bartholomew’s Christmas pageant for seven years now. The kids get together, dress up, and tell the Christmas story with the help of some musicians, and a singing congregation. Every year there is one rehearsal, and then it’s the real deal. The fact that it comes off well every year is its own Christmas miracle. This year, Elias wanted to be the donkey, and Simon and Caleb were angels.
Caleb was not too thrilled about the angel business. But we are thankful for our friend and awesome fellow church-attender, Nick, who took charge of the little cherubs so that Nathan and I could watch the cuteness. Caleb eventually warmed up to Nick. While Caleb didn’t sing, do his motions, or even walk up himself, he sat in front and looked cute. Simon sang and participated like a champ.
Auntie Erin, Uncle Jared, cousins Audrey and Sonya, and Nana were able to join us at the pageant and Eucharist on Christmas eve. We took our annual family Christmas photo with them after the service.
On Christmas Eve we went to my parents’ house, and were joined by my brother and his family. We even had snow! We let the boys take a break from planned activities to go outside and play. They were overjoyed at the fresh air and the spontaneity.
Uncle Scott even got in on the snowball fight, which thrilled Elias and Simon who promptly pelted him with as many snowballs as they could. Scott is such a sport considering he was in a lot of pain at the time from a stone in his saliva gland.
And this…this may be my favorite picture of all time. Just the sheer realness of it. And it just fits each of their personalities to a “T.” I hope they recreate it for me some day when they are in their twenties or thirties. This is what Christmas is really like, people. The highs. The lows. All of it.
We got to spend Christmas Day at our house with Nathan’s side of the family as our guests. The boys are thrilled to be able to play with their cousins. It’s good for them to be able to play with some girls, too. I can’t count on my hands the number of times Elias has said “I love you” to his cousins. It’s really touching. This year, Caleb is even entering the fray a bit. It’s fun to watch their relationships grow and change.
This year Grandpa and Great Grandma got to come as well. Audrey, Sonya, and Elias, who are all studying piano, got to play some songs for great grandma. Today, Grandpa bravely involved himself in their nerf gun fight, and I suspect, really enjoyed shooting darts and getting shot. Here is our four generations picture: