We celebrated our first Christmas in Michigan this year!
As a married couple, we have always spent the Christmas holidays with family. This year was new territory for all. We knew we would miss our families and that they would miss us (especially the grandkids). However, we were glad to know our families would have other loved ones to enjoy the holidays with despite our absence.
There were many people who made an effort to make this Christmas special for the boys. I don’t know what they enjoyed more – finding cards and packages in the mailbox or opening the gifts! We are so grateful for the love and support others have shown us this past year and, especially, this Christmas season!
Eric was able to have two days away from work. We wanted our time together as a family to be special even though it would be different. I planned Christmas surprises for the days leading to Christmas.
On Thursday evening, we had a fun surprise that I found from this blog. While Eric was upstairs getting the boys ready for bed, I put “golden” tickets on the boy’s pillows for them to find. I went downstairs to make popcorn and hot chocolate. When they found their tickets, Eric told them to put on their robes and slippers and to go downstairs.
“Who is ready to ride the mini-van express and go look at Christmas lights?” I said as they rounded the corner into our kitchen. The boys began screaming with excitement as they jumped up and down.
We piled into the van, turned on Christmas music, and enjoyed lights together. Their big smiles and expressions of awe over the lights were priceless.
The next day was Friday and the Christmas surprise came that afternoon. We met friends at a big hill (or, as Jack-Jack refers to it, “the big, big mountain”) and went sledding. It was our first time to go sledding since we moved and we loved every minute of it. For several hours, the kids would whoosh down the hill and march determinedly back up. We had so much fun and slept well that night!
On Christmas Eve morning, we made cookies together. That evening, we went to a Christmas eve service. Jack-Jack isn’t usually in services with us so it was a new experience for him. He talked – a lot.
“Mommy, are we having little hot dogs (aka – little smokies) when we get home?” I nodded my head and reminded him to be quiet.
He leaned over my right side where Spock was sitting and loudly proclaimed, “We are having little hot dogs!” He leaned over to the left and informed Stitch of the same news – in case he, and everyone around us, hadn’t heard.
Then we had the Lord’s supper (also known as “communion”). Stitch broke down in tears when the crackers passed him by and Jack-Jack exclaimed, “Are those crackers or cookies? I’m HUNGRY! Why don’t I get some?”
Even though I struggled to follow the pastor’s words with Jack-Jack wiggling in my lap, it was a memorable time for me. My favorite part was the end of the service when the lights were dimmed and we sang “Silent Night” holding flickering candles. We were together; being reminded of why we have Christmas in the first place.
Speaking of which, if you want an advent to do with your kids, this is the one we have used for the past few years. We read a story each day from “The Jesus Storybook Bible” and the kids hung a correlating ornament on their tree. It’s a great way to help kids (and yourself) focus on true meaning of Christmas.
When we came home from the service, we ate dinner and the boys found their stockings under the tree. They asked to sleep in the living room that night and lay together in the light of the Christmas tree.
We told them that, unless it was 6 or 7, they were not to get up (our kids are early risers). At exactly 6:01, they ran up the stairs yelling, “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas!” I loved the sound of their excited voices.
After we opened our gifts, we had a few hours to eat and play before we headed to Church for service. It’s incredibly special to be with other believers to worship on Christmas day.
As soon as we got home, we put pajamas back on and spent the rest of the day relaxing. The last surprise came that night after our Christmas dinner when we played “Pie Face” for the first time. The boys loved it! To their great delight, Eric seemed to get “pie” in the face on every turn!
This was a unique Christmas for our family. For me, it was special because it reminded me of Christmas as a child. My family didn’t live near extended family so I don’t remember the Christmas season being very hectic. I do remember being with my family, often in our pajamas on Christmas day, and enjoying that time together. Though we missed family this year, it was nice to monitor our “business” which helped us focus on Christ more this season.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I know that the holidays can difficult and painful. For those of you that relate, I prayed for you and hope you were able to rest in the hope we have in Christ.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!