Dear loyal readers, friends and family,
It’s hard to believe that yet another Christmas has come and another book has been published. I truly hope to have one book out per year and so far, I’ve been fortunate enough to do so. Next year I hope to have Damian’s story (Collateral Damage) out and hopefully after that, either dive back into The Hope Valley Saga or do a quick foray into another book that has been swirling around in my brain. For now though, I wanted to write a bit of my thoughts on the season of Christmas and share with you what my family has been up to lately. It’s been a little while since that last post, and for that, I truly apologize. Every time I meant to sit down and write, it would seem that something more pressing would happen. Anyway, enough about that.
These past few days have been busy with preparations for Christmas, clocking a few extra hours at my part time job to make the two weeks I won’t be working a little easier to manage, my daughter’s Christmas concert and many, many preparations. This time last week I had wrapped up a crazy cookie bake for a bake sale my daughter had at her school and had begun looking at the other baking preparations I would have to make for this week. Let me rephrase that, as ‘have’ seems like I was forced and didn’t want to do it. On the contrary, I enjoyed baking for the bake sale and I enjoyed all the baking of cookies and fudge I do every year to give some baking to family as gifts and supply my little family with some Christmas treats. My daughter (now 6) was an amazing help and made the Christmas ‘chore’ all that more enjoyable.
Last week, as I said before, was my daughter’s very first Christmas concert at her school. I was so proud watching my little drama queen up on stage, saying the lines she had been given, chosen from three grades to be one of only three readers for their mini concert. She was amazing. Her inflections were spot on and it seemed like she could have run the show by herself. Yeah, I’m sure I’m biased, but I think she might have a future in drama somewhere. Maybe Broadway. Anyway, they sang some familiar songs such as Jolly Old St. Nicholas, Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree and Let It Go, then ended with a song I’ve never heard before, called One Small Voice. By the end of the song the kids were practically shouting the words, making me wonder how that one small voice could be heard anymore, but it was fun to listen to and watch the kids really getting into it.
Yesterday was Christmas Eve. My daughter convinced me to let her open her Christmas Eve present (I admit, it didn’t take much convincing, as I was eager to see her reactions to her a gift) right after breakfast and we enjoyed a little time on the couch as she opened the box and pulled out each little gift, marveling over (and thanking me for) every one. She got Elsa and Anna pj’s, a chocolate letter, two packages of gourmet hot chocolate, a package of microwave popcorn and The Muppet Christmas Movie (not to be confused with A Muppet Christmas Carol, an annual tradition in our house), all to be enjoyed on our next girl’s night.
Last night we went to a wonderful Christmas Eve service at our new church. There was, of course, the Christmas story, told beautifully through illustrations as well as scripture readings from Luke and some lovely Christmas hymns, but what I enjoyed the most was the sermon, as well as the bell and chime choirs. What a lovely night. After the service we came home and dropped off a Christmas present at the home of one of her little school friends and were immediately invited to join them for their Christmas Eve celebrations. It was getting late, but not wanting to seem rude, we said we could stay for about five minutes. Five minutes turned into ten, but we thanked our hostess and got home. This lead to some hyperness on the part of my daughter, and it was after 11 before we got her to sleep. Fortunately, she slept in until 8:30 this morning, giving my husband and I a much needed sleep in day.
As soon as my little one had opened her stocking, exclaiming over everything in a sweet way and thanking me for every little thing, we gave the cat his stocking. This was a lot of fun, as most of the toys he got were filled with catnip. It was quite amusing watching my daughter drop the toys in front of him, only to find five minutes later that he had completely hidden each and every one under his ample body. There’s just something funny and memorable about a cat purring like a small motor while trying to keep his toys away from the other non-existent cats in our home.
The rest of the day was spent (by me at least) in preparing all the baked goodies to give away, making my Grammi’s famous lemon pudding, getting presentable and doing a few chores to keep from having to do them tonight when we would inevitably get home late from my aunt and uncle’s house where we have our annual Christmas dinner with all the extended family. At 2:30, we were off to their house, weighed down with baked goods and gifts.
As we all sat around the table, which seems to have grown every year as children enter the picture and cousins get married, I looked around and thanked God for all His blessings. Last year I was unable to attend this dinner and see all the family, due to the ice storm of 2013. How much was missed last year, I will never know, but I am grateful to not have missed it this year. Especially since my uncle, who I see once a year or sometimes less, had come to visit for a few weeks. I am truly blessed. With my daughter sitting between my husband of ten years and I, my parents down the table from me, both in excellent health, my brother and sister and her husband and their kids down the table a ways but still near enough to hear their conversations, my aunt and uncle and cousins and second cousins all at the table, sharing jokes and stories, my heart was full.
It was a truly beautiful Christmas, even if it wasn’t a white one. My daughter was a bit sad that we didn’t have snow, but it felt like a real blessing to only have to wear fall jackets and not worry about freezing when everyone went outside for the annual road hockey game. Good food, great company, a family that loves each other and loves God – what more could I possibly ask for? And as if all these blessings weren’t enough, in a little over a week my husband, his parents, our daughter and I head down to Florida for two much needed weeks of vacation. And in the second week my husband and I will be cruising in The Bahamas to celebrate our tenth anniversary while my in-laws watch our daughter back in Florida.
So many blessings that I can’t contain my gratitude. It has been a wonderful Christmas season so far. So far no one in my little family has gotten sick, my husband and I have both been able to work, and we have been blessed with time with family and friends.
I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Until next time, keep dreaming and never give up!