The majority of this post was written several days ago, but because I am not too adept with the computer, I had to wait for Alyssa to remind me again how to get pictures from my camera to this blog. She walked me through it for the last post during which time I took copious notes so as to be able to do it on my own. Alas, I can’t find the notes! Someone (possibly me), in an effort to clean up the table, must have thought the scribbled words were only worthy to be in the trash and that’s why they can not be found. If Josiah knew how important that paper was to me, I might think that he took it and hid it for a joke. He’s getting pretty good at hiding things these days. Why just this week we were scouring the house in order to find my purse that I was pretty sure I brought downstairs, but couldn’t find anywhere. We were ready to leave for Awana, and I needed my purse. I was beginning to think my memory was getting bad. (It is, but not that bad!) Josiah finally told me he could find it. Where was it? Hanging on the shoe rack on the inside of the basement door. Doesn’t he know that shoes hang on shoe racks, not purses? Of course he does, but he is a little imp! Anyway, I can’t blame him for the loss of my precious computer notes. Poor Alyssa, now she’ll have to walk me through the whole process again.
This was our first week back at school after Christmas and New Year’s. We usually only take one week off, but this year I was feeling generous (or maybe a little lazy) and we took two weeks. I don’t think anyone was really excited about getting back to the books, including the teacher. We just had too much fun relaxing, eating all sorts of sweet treats, and giving gifts to one another. We managed to keep to our morning schedule of eating breakfast together at 8:00 a.m. for, let’s see, one day?! Ah, well, there’s always tomorrow!
I thought now would be an appropriate time to think back about what made this Christmas unique. One special blessing was that we were able to attend the Christmas Eve service at our church this year because Jim was able to be home from work early. It was a beautiful service and we were glad to concentrate on Jesus, the reason we celebrate Christmas.
The day after Christmas we hosted the Herr family’s Christmas dinner which was a first for us. We had about 35 people here including Jim’s parents, all but one of his siblings, his nieces and nephews, and our own family. We had a relaxing evening eating together and getting caught up with everyone’s activities.
Christmas Day was also unique this year because it was our first without our beloved Andrew. His role of leader for the 5:00 a.m. children’s parade down the stairs to open stockings was transferred to Heidi this year. I had wondered if his absence would put an end to this event, but no! TRADITION!! TRADITION!! For many years the children have gathered in one of the bedrooms and then “quietly” lined up oldest to youngest before marching down the stairs to find their stockings. Their goal has been to begin the Christmas festivities while letting their beloved parents sleep in. Of course, since the stairs are right outside their parents’ bedroom door, and since the whisperings are not really all that quiet, their parents are almost always awake, listening to and enjoying the excitement of the children. I am so thankful that we still have little ones in the house. That has been the main reason this tradition has been preserved. Even the older ones, who would prefer a little extra sleep, are willing to rise early in order for the little ones to experience this momentous occasion. Next Christmas promises to be even more exciting with 4 new sisters in the line-up.
One of the most heart-warming things about Christmas this year was seeing the gifts that were made by the children and given to their siblings. There is no obligation for each child to make or purchase something for the others. Instead, if someone gets an idea for one sibling, he/she is free to give that sibling a gift. I have never heard any comments of a sibling feeling left out or deprived because he/she did not receive a gift that year. Instead, there is joy just seeing the response of the person receiving the gift. That warms my heart.
This year Simeon spent many hours in the woodshop or holed up in his room designing and creating gifts for some of his siblings. He is very creative and loves detail. His gifts this year for Elisha, Samuel, and Josiah were pre-made boxes redesigned into little houses for miniature bears. He fashioned furniture for the rooms, papered the walls, and carpeted the floors. Each box was painted a different color on the outside and labeled with the owner’s name.
Simeon also made a bookmark for Hannah and Christmas ornaments for Alyssa, Nathanael, and Isaiah. For Naomi he made a hobbit key-chain, Lord of the Rings stationery, and a miniature Lord of the Rings board game. He even made the boxes for the stationery and the board game.
Nathanael and Isaiah’s ornaments (# 1 and 2). The other three were made last year for the three youngest boys.
Heidi finished writing her story, Sir Sam Bam and the Dragon. She then hand-copied the story onto small sheets of paper, added illustrations, bound the pages into a little book, and presented it to Samuel for Christmas.
All the gifts created this year were reminders of God’s creativity and purpose in designing each one of us. We are each uniquely handcrafted by God to bring glory to Him and joy to those around us. As we look forward to the coming year, let’s make it our desire to be all that God has created us to be.