Monday, January 4, 2016

Christmas Eve (accompanied by a poor food analogy)

Once upon a time, I was young. My responsibilities were minimal. It was okay to focus on myself. In fact, it was encouraged. Back then, when Sunday rolled around, my greatest responsibility was remembering to bring my scriptures to church. That makes me smile when I think of the church bag full of sacrament meeting "necessities" I prepare each week for my children. Once a month, Fast Sunday happened and per my parent's expectation, I would endure the loss of two meals. It was rough. With time, I'm pleased to say, I gained my own little testimony of fasting but I can still remember that it felt like a big sacrifice. When you consider the troubled state of our world, I sound both spoiled and bratty. I realize that. I'm going somewhere with this (I hope!). So please, bear with me.

As dinnertime made its approach, it was my job to set the table. I remember collecting the silverware and carefully placing each piece as I'd been taught. Having fasted that day, it was no surprise that my stomach would growl as I waited out those final minutes. I remember taking in my Mother's beautiful spread. The table cloth, fancy plates and center pieces, each witnessed to the fact that my Mom is an artist. The scent of the warm rolls, fresh from the oven, complimented the aroma of the roast that had been in the slow cooker most of the day. The whir of the metal beaters signaled that dinner was close to being ready because my Mom usually saved the mashing of potatoes for last. My mouth watered. I would sometimes take a sip of water from my glass in a sad attempt to fill the time. Finally it was time to gather with my family, give thanks to our Heavenly Father and eat.(!!!!!!)

At the time, I probably didn't appreciate those final minutes leading up to the meal. But now, I remember the experience fondly. Let's be honest, it's probably because I wasn't the one in charge of preparing the food. The anticipation was nearly as delicious as the meal itself. This is how I feel about Christmas Eve. My children may argue that it's the slowest day of the year, that time seems to crawl and that sleep is nearly impossible. But the anticipation that surrounds the day is magical. It is thick. It is palpable. As a Mom, it makes me smile, but for my children it is difficult to endure. This year, I made an effort to say the words, "Can you believe it's Christmas Eve...Today!?" as often as possible. I wanted to remind them of the good things to come. Or I'd change the lyrics of the song, "Santa Claus is coming to town..." to "Santa Claus is coming TONIGHT!!"

Christmas Eve remains a night where sleep is limited but for new reasons. Waiting for Santa's arrival, preparing the breakfast casserole and tidying up our home are just a few things that make the day busy. Despite the to-do list, we did our best this year to squeeze in a few {awesome} activities. Having the coolest Dad around, my kids enjoyed a morning of snow play in our yard. Again, I have to give a shout out to Andrew for providing our children with these memories as he continues to struggle with lingering back pain. Whether he's playing outside with his kids or has sat too long as his desk, his back throbs. It's heartbreaking and infuriating to think about his car accident. So I appreciate him for enduring what he has to endure to provide our children these types of memories.

Later that day, our cousins from Alaska came over. The kids enjoyed another round of snow play before we packed up and headed to my parent's home for Christmas Eve dinner. I've already typed enough about food for one day, but it would be criminal if I didn't mention how delicious the food was and that my Mom's artistic ability still burns bright as her home has such a magical Christmas feel (Andrew's Mom has the same gift!).

After dinner, we played the jelly bean challenge game. Finding two of the same colored jelly beans, each player eats one not knowing if they lucked out with the tasty flavor or the one that's disgusting. For example, picking up a brown jelly bean, you are either eating a bean that tastes like chocolate pudding or dog food. It's hilarious to watch and scary to play. Of course, I will now show you a video of said challenge because it's hilarious. Click here:

Later on, the kids readied themselves to participate in the reenactment of the nativity. It's my favorite thing. This year was very special as Forrest was eager to be apart of things.
My Aunt and Uncle told me they thought Forrest looked like the pope! :) 
We then exchanged gifts. It was a wonderful night. We took our time leaving Nana's because we were having such a nice time. But! Santa was on his way. We kept tabs on him through google's Santa Tracker. It was exciting. We sang Christmas songs in the car as we drove back. The children opened up their new Christmas ornaments, they turned out great this year, and opened up their new pajamas. I had planned to make them shower before bed, but it was too late; so we skipped that. After setting out the cookies, we snuggled up around Daddy who had a small lesson to share about the true meaning of Christmas. We talked about the Savior's birth and then gathered by the tree one last time to read, "The Night Before Christmas."

After a "few" pictures in front of the tree, we had prayer and tucked in our excited children. Daddy and Mommy stayed up just long enough to see that Santa had come. We went to bed with big smiles on our faces knowing what the kids had to look forward to. And for the record, Andrew and I fell asleep immediately.

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