Our third Christmas celebration landed on Christmas morning.  Very early Christmas morning.  Like 4AM.  We decided to have it before Brian went in for milking, so that I wasn’t having to fend off little hands all morning. (Although, I don’t think that would have been a problem for Christian.)

Yeah, the kids weren’t overly thrilled to be woken from sleep so early, but once I told Olivia, a number of times, that Santa had come, she came racing out to the living room overflowing with excitement.  Christian, however, just laid on Brian’s lap. Very upset about being awake and the opening of gifts.  Eventually, he got up and ran downstairs, so we opened his gifts for him then they were OK.  (If we only knew that would have been an issue ahead of time, we could have saved much time on the wrapping of gifts. 😉 )

Another enjoyable Christmas celebration.  With the glorious reminder of it being Jesus’ birthday. 🙂

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We survived enjoyed our second Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve evening at the farm.  Since we were unable to attend church easily (around the milking schedule), Brian led the family in a simple, yet lovely devotion focusing on God’s love for us and our need for a Savior.  Brian’s idea was to have a candle lit after each section of scripture.  Christian’s idea was to blow out a candle after each section of scripture.  (At least it was a semi-informal setting, so the family didn’t get too thrown off by the movie rearranging taking place in the middle of the devotion that I had to redirect him to so that he wouldn’t obsess about said candles. 😉 )

After dinner, we settled in to the “front room” to open gifts.  Christian was not too happy about being there, though, he preferred being in the adjoining dining room, so we brought his gifts to him there.  However, Christian had developed a “fear” of opening presents, so we had to open them for him (usually when he wasn’t looking) and then he could enjoy what was inside.  (I figure for his birthday we can have everyone bring his gifts in reusable grocery bags.  He LOVES to go through the bags when I get home from the store and then we’re “green,” too.  😉 )

Anyway, lovely time with everyone at the farm.  🙂  (And I was so glad that we didn’t have too far to travel to get back home. I can handle the one-minute car ride. 😉 )

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she wrapped him in clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in clothes and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherd said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.  –Luke 2:6-20

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. 

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.  He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.  He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.  The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, not of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  –John 1:1-14

On Sunday, we survived had a lovely Christmas with my family.  It was SO nice to have the whole family together (we missed my brother-in-law, NK, though) as we haven’t been all together in over a 1-1/2 years and there have been 3 more babies added to the family just this year.  It was a fairly relaxing day, especially after Christian received a Leapfrog Text N Learn and could instant message Scout, the virtual puppy, all about Nick Jr., associate producers, and Columbia TriStar Pictures.  🙂  Olivia received lots of dress-up clothes, so was busy trying those on for the rest of the day in-between playing with all of her cousins.  It was a really pleasant day with good food, lots of babies, and a chance to catch up with family (and a little caffeine 😉 ).

I am finding this post very hard to write, but hoping that it will be cathartic so here I go…

I love Christmas.  I love rejoicing in the birth of our Savior.  I love thinking of gifts to give to those who mean so much to our family.  I love the hymns.  I love the lights and decorations.  I love hearing favorite Bible passages repeated again.  I love to get the yearly updates from family and friends.  I love the unmaterialistic Christmas.  I love the Christmas that is focused on Christ Jesus.

But every year, as Christmas approaches, I find myself struggling.  Failing in and out of a deep sadness.  You see, almost 20 years ago on Christmas Day, I was dealt an emotionally devastating blow.  An unexpected betrayal of sorts.  A loss of all innocence.  An event that still shakes me to my core and is just so incomprehenible in my mind.  And I wish that it didn’t cut me as much as it did that Christmas Day so long ago, but it still does.  Reliving it makes me want to just curl up in a ball and sob until the tears will no longer come.

This time of year sends me on an emotional rollercoaster ride, from the highest of highs to some pretty low lows.  I’m praying for many more highs than lows this year.  If that’s all I would get for Christmas, that would be enough by me.

Dearest Christian,

You survived another trip (via airplane) to visit family.  The grandparents were especially happy to see you and hear your little giggle.  That could send a smile to anyone’s face!  You received so many wonderful gifts that Grandpa V. had to send some down to us — they should come tomorrow, although I’m sure you’ll have just as much fun with the box that everything comes in.  If only we all were so easily entertained!  You met your cousin, JJB, for the first time and seemed intrigued because he is smaller than you.  We were also told that Auntie B and Uncle N are expecting a baby in August.  Another cousin for you!  🙂

You are a riot!  You gabber away and love to bounce.  You are so fun to watch and play with.  Daddy and I can just see you understanding something new everyday.  Today, you touched sand and the Atlantic ocean for the first time — that was very neat to see!  I love you, my little one!

I have a wish for your future tonight.  I hope that in the years to come we will always be close.  I think of that sometimes as I rock you in the night back to sleep and how years from now I will not be able to comfort you like that anymore.  I’m sure that I will wish that I could so the only thing that I can hope for is a close relationship with you.  I will always love you, my dear son, even if I sometimes fail to say it!  You are indeed a blessing from God that I will cherish as long as I live.  You are such a special, bright boy now and I’m sure you will grow into a special, intelligent man in the future (probably too soon for a mother’s taste).  I am filled with pride whenever I look at you, son, and I always will be.

Keep your faith going strong.  Pray for the Lord to guide you.  If I can leave you with nothing else as a legacy, I pray that it will be heaven someday and knowing what a wonderful, loving God we have.  You are so special to Him.  What an honor it is that He has given me to be your mother and raise you in His way.  I pray for the wisdom to do that the best that I can and apologize when I don’t (and haven’t).

I send a kiss to you, my boy!  Sleep well, I pray.  (Perhaps one of these days you’ll sleep through the night again…)

All my love, Mom