Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Christmas Reflections

I can't believe Christmas is already behind us. Where did the time go?  I took loads of pictures over the holidays and I'm just now getting around to uploading them.


One of our family traditions happens the day after Thanksgiving when we make the trek out to the tree farm, pick out a tree and haul it home. We have such a fun time together each year and the past two years we began another tradition, surrounding the tree trekking excursion. Before we head out to conquer the quest for the perfect tree we spend the morning tearing the house apart, removing regular decorations and pulling out the boxes of Christmas décor. We thoroughly dust, vacuum and make sure the furniture is arranged to incorporate the addition of the Christmas tree and then the fun begins as we dig through the boxes, exclaiming over our favorite seasonal decorations and find the perfect places to display each one "this year."  Once the decorating is complete, we jump in the car and head out on the tree hunt.


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The hunt has been successful. The tree has been chosen and the annual family photos around the tree were taken!


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Taking down da tree!


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Natalie climbed up on this stump....and my camera couldn't resist a shot of her there. :)


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We hunted. We cut it. We bagged it....and we took it home.


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Ta Da!


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Christmas 2014 was especially fun as we welcomed 13 beautiful Golden Retriever puppies into our home. We were all rejoicing with the appearance of each new puppy, and yet we grieved when one was still born and another one passed away a couple of days later leaving us with eleven thriving puppies.


 

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This year's Christmas celebrating was different than any other year so far. Rather than partaking in the traditional Christmas meal with family and friends, we spent the afternoon at our church serving a Christmas meal. We invited people in from our community who didn't have anywhere to go, and for many that meant they had no place to call home either. What a beautiful day with about forty hungry people who arrived as guests from our community. We had the opportunity to hear individual stories and to meet people we wouldn't have met otherwise. We were able to learn about needs in our community that are serious, deep, and very real.....and it was a blessing to be able to meet some of those needs that day. We may have reached out to them, but in the end we believe we are truly the ones who received a blessing from God as He opened our eyes to our neighbors and their needs. Now we have longer prayer lists for people that are truly hurting and not only that, but we felt very humbled by how rich our lives truly are and a desire was sparked in our hearts to be used as the hands and feet of God to a hurting community in more tangible ways than we have known before.


We did celebrate with our family too. We had some of our kids and grandkids over on one day and the rest on another. What a blessing to see those grandbabies and enjoy the time with them. We took the traditional aunties, uncles, nieces and nephews photos.


As I am writing this, I'm also reflecting on all of the changes in our family that stood out to me over the holiday season. Our oldest three kids that are still at home are growing and changing rapidly and this was the first year they each had some income of their own. I can't tell you how many shopping excursions I took part in as each one of the kids needed my taxi driving services to accomplish their Christmas shopping. They ran me ragged! I'm not exaggerating when I tell you I was exhausted from all the running, and yet the beauty I saw in their generosity was the reward for all of the dollar store trips and Ross runs. They were careful with their spending and diligent about spending wisely and yet it was really important to them to have the opportunity to buy gifts for each member of the family. Some of the kids ordered gifts on line and I developed a great appreciation for on-line shopping. :)  On Christmas morning they couldn't wait to pass our their gifts. The focus was on giving more than receiving and there was an overall change in maturity that was really precious.


The day after Christmas we had our second oldest daughter's family here.


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Our youngest son, Levi, on the left with his nephew who is our oldest grandson, on the right. They are the best of friends, born eight weeks apart.


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I think it's safe to say the kids all enjoyed each other and were grateful for the gifts they were given.


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After all of the excitement there were a few boys who ran out of energy. Every couch in the living room held a sleeping male for a while. My husband, our son-in-law and a grandson. Our grandson, Jackson, was the first to take a little snooze on his Dad's chest and after his nap, his baby brother fell asleep on Dad. Even their Mom snoozed for a while.


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A few days after Christmas we had our oldest daughter's family over


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Our Squishy got a baton from her Uncle Tim and we had a great time looking up baton twirling videos on YouTube together.


She received a jump rope from Papa and Nama, so we jumped rope together and I got to re-live childhood for a little while as I taught her some jump rope songs.


 

 

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And....we did the traditional "USie"


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This was her first time seeing the puppies. She couldn't get enough of them.


 

 

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We have so much to be thankful for that it amazes me how tempted I am to complain at times. As I added in the pictures for this post, the realization of how many ways God has blessed our family once again humbled me. With so much to thank Him for, my prayer is that I remember to do that whenever the temptation to grumble arises.


The Christmas tree has been taken down and hauled out of the house. The decorations are all tucked away until next year, but the reflections from this Christmas still remain on my mind and in my heart. As we embark on 2015, I can't help but wonder what changes will be a part of next Christmas season.

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