Christmas Celebrations

I've typed out a paragraph or 2  and deleted them several times. This Christmas might not be what Luke & I had envisioned years ago when we started planning for a family. I've always asked to just go away on a trip to Hawaii, hang out on the beach or go to NYC and walk around in the snow and just be with us for a few days. I would love to get together with family the week of Christmas and do board games, make cookies, go see a Christmas movie, go to Christmas Eve service together, go work at a soup kitchen together, or go look at lights. I'd love to have a house with a massive dinning room filled with a long table, a lot of food, and family over to celebrate with us.  We've usually tried to squeeze in our Christmas and an extended family Christmas on the 25th. And then we've celebrated Christmas with the other side of in-laws a day or so after Christmas. Last year we tried ( after a few failed attempts previous years) to squeeze in all 3 Christmas celebrations in one day. We drove to and from Nashville in one evening. And we also had family in town from Florida that we celebrated with as well.
Growing up, for me, we did extended family on Christmas Eve night with Christmas dinner and presents and trivial pursuit, and then just stayed at our house all day on Christmas. Sometimes family would come back over Christmas evening for a big Christmas dinner. My mom is from Florida, and some years we would travel down and spend some time there.
 I've been listening to different families talk about all their different traditions. Just now, as I'm typing, Ella is trying to take a morning nap, the kids are upstairs playing, and I have on the Today Show ( THAT IS ALWAYS SO EXCITING TO ME TO HAVE ON A NON-KID SHOW!!!!), Kathie Lee was saying they always did only 3 presents for their kids. I've heard this more and more this year, and am not sure I have heard of it before. She also said at Thanksgiving this year they were sitting around saying what they were most thankful for, and they were all so happy for family. They made a pact that they are doing no presents this year, they are just being together as a family. I hate to say that Luke and I tried to suggest that one year for Christmas(just no gifts or silly gifts with extended family), and were told CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT PRESENTS!!!! It didn't go over so well. Maybe in a few more years.
Luke and I decided before we had kids { maybe even just the months before Landon was born} that we do not want the emphasis to be put on presents. This year the kids went with me to help with some crafts for the KidPower Christmas party at church for the 2nd and 3rd graders. They didn't know they would get to watch the kids rip open gifts that had been donated for them by others. We got a good lesson in there, and they even got to help clean up afterwards.

Our Sunday school class did our rotation at  Room at the Inn at church last week. The kids got to witness and be a part of preparing food, serving food, and eating food with the homeless & seeing where they would spend the night. They see homeless men and women all the time, and there are certain ones we try to take food to on the way to church on Sundays. They look for him at his spot EVERY week. They understand ( the best they can) what it means to help others when they are down. We tried to get in another service lesson there.

Lucy also finally 'understood' the NICU a little more this year. In the past we've taken hats, and this year we took 27 blankets and cards to the babies in the NICU. One of our favorite nurses was working that night, and we got to get in some hugs and take the nurses some snacks too! Lucy has seen her NICU shadowbox hanging in her room, but doesn't get it really. She saw 2 babies and said AWWW THOSE BABIES ARE SO LITTLE! Her nurse Leslie told her she was much smaller than those babies. She got to see other babies sleeping where she use to sleep ( of course we only got to stand at the nurses station because it's RSV season) and put together that she actually lived there--as much as a little 3 year old can. We tried to get in a little lesson there too.

We've tried to emphasize everything BUT presents this year. The other night we asked Landon what Christmas was about, and not one thing was about presents. He said the words 'family' and 'bringing joy' a lot. I've never thought more about this than 3 years ago. We were not all together and it seemed to be the Worst Christmas EVER {click here to read} =(  Luke and my sister had seen me a week before go through a seizure and watch the medical team getting ready to intubate me, Luke had been told his wife would have brain damage, and we had seen and ( I had) held a 2 pound baby and not know her future. I have never been so sad on Christmas before. Nothing mattered more to me but to be with my baby.

While Christmas this year might not be what we had planned months ago or even yesterday afternoon, we are all healthy and together in our house. We are so very thankful for that! We are ready for Luke to be off of work for 3 days (  he's worked since last Friday) and head to church for the Christmas Eve service. They are so excited to go! We are trying to teach our kids so much more than presents on Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I am so excited for them to rip open their presents, they have NO clue what they are getting, and I can't wait to see them! They've also opened 1 present/book every night since the first Sunday in December ( the start of Advent). We have sat together as a family( although Ella has been asleep almost every night, and Luke has been at work a lot) every night and read each book after we open it. We've been thinking of Christmas and getting ready for the Christ child's coming for 23 days now. I hope Christmas is everything you've imagined it to be, but if it isn't, I hope you can still make the most of it & enjoy being with people you love! As Landon would say, " I hope this Christmas season brings you Joy!"
I'm going to add a few other pictures of the past few Christmases! How could I not be happy with these precious gifts?
Landon's 1st Christmas
Landon's 2nd Christmas ( 1 year old)

Christmas 2010 ( Lucy a week old and Landon 2 years)
Our first Christmas together ( Landon 3 & Lucy1)
Christmas 2012 (Landon4, Lucy2, Ella 1 month)

I will be back later to write about as we put the tree up this year, and all the memories were brought back up from all those ornaments. . . . .

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