Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmastime is Here

I don't know if it's because we are empty nesters and will see only 1 of our 5 children (and 3 of our 9 grandchildren) for Christmas this year---or because we were packing and moving last year so we diidn't send cards or decorate at all. . . here are a few thoughts:

I have always loved Christmas.  For most of my life, we spent Christmas Eve with my Dad's side of the family.  We'd get dressed up in our new Christmas outfits and it was so much fun to spend time with our cousins.  Grandmommy and Grandaddy always made Christmas Eve so special for us.  We were really blessed to live so close to them so that we could celebrate together for so many years.  Once we started having families of our own, we still had a family party a week or so before Christmas.  The fun thing about that was that it stretched Christmas out a little longer.

My Mom's parents lived in Parowan, Utah, so every other year they would take turns spending Christmas with us in southern California or my cousins in North Ogden, Utah.  During the years they had Christmas with our cousins, Grama would send the most amazing packages, with the perfect presents.  And there were always other treats.  Her specialty was home made turtles and peanut butter cookies.  She would stack the cookies in a roll and then roll them up in wax paper and foil.  It's the best peanut butter cookie recipe on the planet.

Last year, we spent Christmas with Jamie in Louisiana while Ben was in Afghanistan.  And then we moved on January 14.  Needless to say, for the first time in many years we did not send out Christmas Cards.  We did nothing Christmassy except hang wreaths on the front doors and I changed my blog background.  I really missed decorating my house, making caramels, and putting up my Christmas Tree.
This year it has been fun to become reacquainted with my Christmas decorations.  It has been such a treat to open up the boxes of ornaments and my nativity collection.  I still have a little more to do, but I'm almost there.  The most important thing for me this year was to make sure I sent out cards early so that we wouldn't lose touch with people we love.

As I thought about the whole process of giving and receiving Christmas Cards, it made me so grateful for the custom.  As I addressed each card, I found myself going down memory lane, remembering why the addressee was so important to our family.  I thought of family members who I have known all my life or all of their lives.  I thought of people we have been in the trenches with as we raised our children and served together in church callings.  It makes my heart sing to think of all the wonderful people who have blessed my life and the life of my family. 

I like scrappy quilts.  I don't like matchy-matchy as much as I like a variety.  That's how my Christmas tree is.  I have all different kinds of ornaments.  It's not very fancy or decorative or color coordinated with a theme.  My Christmas tree has become a family history.  But really, so many of the traditions we have at Christmas are parts of our family history that was added over the years.  I thought of all the things I've learned over the years that help make Christmas special.  The fun Christmas Groups and Family Home Evening Groups.  I still use many of the stories with my preschoolers and cherish many of the ornaments and decorations we shared.  Little things like how to string popcorn and cranberries, how to make a bow, or homemade caramels.  The tradition of leaving out a shoe for the elf during the month of December to help the children behave.  The ornaments and other decorations I've made in classes or at church with dear friends. All the wonderful Relief Society committees over the years.  Music that has been shared.  Recipes.  Stories like "Cracked Wheat for Christmas" or movies like "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" or "A Muppet Family Christmas".  Napkins folded like elf shoes.Then there are the gifts of ornaments or nativities that have been given by students and friends.  The list goes on and on.

Tonight I just feel really grateful for all the people and experiences in my life that have made me the 55 year old woman I am today. As I unpacked every ornament and nativity I was filled with joy at the memories associated with each one.  As I addressed each Christmas card it felt so good to see those names of people who are so dear to me.  Maybe that's part of the Christmas spirit. It seems to be for me this year. I love Christmas!

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