Christmas was busy, fun, memorable, and a little bit crazy. We were host to both our families this year, and there were a few wrinkles in the plan. First, the night before the Eve, Nathan had a stomach bug -- which, thankfully, no one else caught. We had a great conversation at 1:00 a.m., talking about how Christmas would still come, even if Nathan was sick. Then Nathan said, "Jesus knows exactly how I feel when I'm sick, because he was a boy once too." I loved that he thought of that all by himself.
The second wrinkle was the weather. It has been crazy here, varying between sub-zero temperatures and LOTS of snow. We didn't know when the safest time would be for my sister to make the two-hour drive. She ended up coming early, to do the driving between two snow storms -- hooray! An extra night with Aunt Alicia sleeping over. :o)
Our celebration began with my family on Christmas Eve. We gather in the afternoon while Peter is doing services at our church, then have a traditional turkey dinner. Afterward, we open presents, have dessert, and drink my sister's fabulous homemade rummy egg nog. Then my dad, mom and brother head off to midnight mass at their church.
On Christmas Day, it was our turn to host Peter's side of the family. We crammed 31 people into our house for a fun, loud, joyous celebration. In the evening, we all drove half an hour to his cousin Jason's (and new wife Robin's) house to meet up with more relatives. All the cousins played together so well throughout the day.
Peter, Anya Rashi and I ended up making an unexpected visit to the hospital in Jason's city. Our dear friend Molly's dad had emergency surgery on Christmas night, and since we were already in town we stopped by for a few minutes as they waited during the operation. It really is nothing short of a miracle that he got to the hospital in time and came through the surgery well. We are so grateful that God answered so many prayers and saved his life.
After that very full day, we added what we hope will be a new tradition this year: Peter's brother Dave and his family slept over on Christmas night, and we all had a pancake feast in the morning.
Anya Rashi was so excited about the presents this year -- and not only for herself! She spent all of the gift opening time taking packages from under the tree and handing them out (to anyone at all!). She was delighted with all the people, all the noise, and with her special clothes. It was really a joy to see how different she is this year compared to last year. She reveled in all the excitement, strutting through the house like it was all her idea. She made us smile especially whenever she saw a picture of Santa -- she says "Who, who, who!" instead of "Ho, ho ho!"
The shock, then the relief, of the news about Molly's dad reminded us how much we treasure the people we love. We were also reminded powerfully that the Gospel is still true in every circumstance. No matter what is happening in our lives, Christmas "came just the same," to paraphrase the Grinch. Whatever your circumstances are, we hope you feel God's love in very real ways during this blessed season.