Christmas Day

3 pm Christmas Day here, and Michael and I are splayed on the couch in a post-Christmas brunch haze. Christmas, Round One, is over, although we’ll be back for more tonight as we’ve plans for a soup dinner at the home of some friends.

Michael and I woke early this morning (I was awake at 4.30 a.m. for some unknown reason, although Michael waited till a more reasonable 6.30 or 7 to crawl out of bed), and opened our gifts to each other. One of mine was knitting needles and yarn… as yet I don’t know how to knit, but (with some help from a friend) I hope to learn.

We also Skyped the Gregory clan in Chattanooga, who were together for Christmas Eve dinner at Bebe and Papa’s house. We so miss our families at this time, but are thankful for technology which makes it possible to connect with them from so far away. We’ll call the Farnsworths in Alabama tonight–hooray for the lingering anticipation of more presents still remaining under the tree!

After we got off the computer with the Gregorys, we headed over to some friends’ house for Christmas brunch and a Secret Santa gift swap. Pictures below!

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Michael, hoodratting in his fancy-schmancy new cap, thanks to Papa Gregory. I got one, too–perfect for keeping warm on our scooters in the winter wind and cold.

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We neglected to get Albus a Christmas present (I’m shamed, don’t worry!)… so instead, we let him go wild with the wrapping paper and cardboard box debris of our opened gifts. This photo is but a glimpse of the mayhem Albus visited on our living room. Naughty pupster!

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Christmas at our house. (See my loot on the couch?!) Unfortunately the grey sky has stayed the same color since 7 a.m. this morning, and will probably look like this for, oh, the next month or two (at least).

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Sam and baby Adelaide glamming it up after brunch.

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Scott was the lucky recipient of a ballin’ new helmet for his dirt bike…

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…as were these other friends! Most of the boys have recently invested in dirt bikes to take out on the hills and mountains surrounding our home. I’m a little nervous about the whole thing, but at least they’re being safe. Right?

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Michael was responsible, for the second year running, buying Noah a Secret Santa gift. He wrapped the gift in three different packages but Noah was transfixed by stage one and needed convincing that the other gifts were worth opening as well.

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But once he did he loved the race track. Michael is trying his darnedest to bribe his way to Noah’s heart. And it’s working!

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Baby Jack, all spiffed up for Christmas morning.

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Last but not least, Michael and me, sinking slowly into that blissful euphoria known as food coma.

Merry Christmas to all!


Advent

This, truly, is my favorite time of year. In America, I love the furor and hubbub, the lights twinkling glittery-white in the cold as we drive past, the parties and the celebrations, even the shopping malls full of shoppers–although (truth be known) I love those better observed from afar and not when I’m in a Christmas panic myself. I love the Christmas movies, even the terrible ones on the Hallmark Channel; the traditions–hot chocolate while decorating the tree as Bing Crosby croons in the background, carefully putting out the china and crystal for Christmas dinner, and perhaps most of all the Christmas Eve walk my dad, sisters, and aunt take each year after dinner in my tiny Alabama hometown.

Although Bing Crosby will be the voice of Christmas to me as long as I live, so many of these traditions don’t happen each year. Not living here, in Asia, where the most traditional Christmas activity I’ve discovered is giving your friends an apple on Christmas Eve. (The word for apple here is very close to the word for Christmas Eve.) A part of me, not a small part, mourns that loss each year. My first Christmas in Asia, before I was married, I remember breaking down and sobbing in front of all my friends on Christmas Eve–things were good, but it wasn’t the same. And my tradition-treasuring heart wanted the same.

But, no matter where I am at Christmastime, the most important tradition of all continues unabated. The celebration of Advent, this season of expectation, of hoping toward the arrival of that great day when our fears turn to joy and our tears turn to laughter, is, truly, “how my heart finds Christmas.” No matter where I am, no matter how elaborate or simple the trappings, all the tradition points to one thing. One person, rather: the Child whose arrival brings hope for all mankind.

 
Come to earth to taste our sadness,
He whose glories knew no end
By his life he brings us gladness,
Our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend
Leaving riches without number,
Born within a cattle stall
This the everlasting wonder,
Christ was born the Lord of all.