Tag Archives: christmas

This is Christmas.

A father packs a suitcase.

He tells me this story:

The kids aren’t coming home for Christmas this year.

He’s not mad. 

Disappointed, maybe,

but not mad.

He misses his kids,

this much is obvious.

We used to talk a lot. Actually, we used to be inseparable, you know? They hung on every word I said. Ran home every chance they could. Asked my advice, ate at the family table, counted on me. But times change and, well, you know how it goes. Kids want to explore, right? They challenge the truth they grew up with. They started believing I didn’t understand them anymore, said times were different now, said they wanted their freedom. We talked less and less in those later years until, finally, they stopped coming home at all.

I see them, hear them wandering around life… struggling through. I hate that we aren’t together anymore.

“But you still love them,” I say.

Oh, I do! Absolutely. I still love them. I could never not love them. I hate being away from them. I hate not talking. I hate not being involved in their lives, comforting them when they hurt and celebrating when they’re thrilled. I miss the early days of watching them discover life. I absolutely love them, without a doubt.

And so, in order to show them that I love them… that nothing can change that I love them, that my heart’s desire is to know them and be known by them, that I want a relationship at all costs…

this year I’m going to THEM for Christmas.

He is smiling now.

The biggest smile

you can imagine.

I’m going to surprise them. If they won’t come to me, then I will go to them. I will get low. I will serve.I will be last. I’ll go where they are. I’ll find them where they are. If they can’t or won’t come home, I’ll go to them. It’s a long trip, and I think it may be uncomfortable. But, I’m going.

Because I love them.

I think He’s amazing.

And, maybe a little stubborn.

But certainly determined…

as one is when in unconditional love.

candlelight

Do you see what I see?

This is Christmas… 

the celebration of God coming to us to make peace. The thrill of hope: knowing we are not lost but, in fact, found. That we are missed and loved and sought. That we walked away and He came after us.

With an infant’s cry on a not-so silent night, Jesus started a war for peace- a war against sin. It is the middle of a story that started in a garden and ends on a cross… with an epilogue we truly cannot grasp.

We are no longer lost,

for He has come down to us.

We have a savior; 

we have a savior.

[music]

Merry Christmas, friends. 

• inspired by a stunning monologue

at the 2014 BHBC candlelight service

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Christmas Eve

Our power is still out and looks to be for a while yet… and so the story I have planned will have to wait until battery power is not a luxury. Instead, I give you a child and a song. And, really, what more could any of us possibly need this week?

Merry Christmas, Friends. 

May your hearts be full of the wonder that is Christ coming to earth.

gideon

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

‘Til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born;

O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

• originally composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 •

 

super-duper holiday list o’ fun

Hello, Friends! Please forgive yesterday’s blog absence.  Abby and I are back from our trip to California, and we are feeling it. Time zones are not awesome.  Ry also woke up this morning with a fever and a very sad face, so everyone’s in jammies and soup is on the stove.

Today, Tif is back with a list of tried and true activities to get you through the rest of this Holiday Season with your littles.  If you have anything to add, be sure to leave us a note in the comments!

Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays…

 As a parent, I have found some fun and creative ways to bring the holidays into my home for my children.  We always look forward to the spending of time together…. The crafts, the stories, the fun.  Ever since my children were little, being home was more important to us… than going out. The stay at home activities allowed my son, who didn’t like the hustle and bustle of the holiday, to be in a safe and calm place… and yet it also allowed my other son to experience the special moments of the season.  It even gave us (the parents) the ability to enjoy the joy and fun without getting frustrated or feeling pressure from the outside world.  Many of the activities are simple, cute, quick and easy to plan.  I wanted to share some with you….
Granted, you can add your own traditions…. But these are just some helpful ways to get your home buzzing with activities for the holidays.  Have fun! Take photos! And most of all, enjoy the messy faces, goopy hands, and sounds of joy in your home.  Merry Christmas!

Tif 

Young Ones (ages 2-5)

Older Ones (ages 5+)

Remember: if your child doesn’t hang around for long… let them be.  They may only want to experience it from afar.  Don’t force the activity and time upon them.  Leave your expectations and frustrations at the door… just BE together! 


(in)couragement for (in)ablers

Today’s post comes from Tif, who writes regularly about family life over at MIDST.

Do You Hear What I hear?

carol-singers

“’Tis the season to be jolly… Falalalala… la la la ala la.”

I sing (under my breath) with the utmost of sarcasm.  How can we be jolly… with all this “stuff” and with all this “noise” around us?  As children we are surrounded by the excitement, the traditions, the little happy spots of the holidays.  We have parties, ice skating, parades, lines for Santa, cookies to bake, neighbors to sing with, and of course, the Christmas pageant.  All these things we loved as children made the season so bright in our eyes.  Now, as moms, we want to share that same giddiness, that same excitement, with our own children- so we pile it on.  Why not, right?!?!  “The more the merrier,” isn’t that what “they” say!?!

I remember the spark in my first son’s eye… the wonder of it all…. The staring at the colors and lights, the chewing of ribbons and hiding in boxes.  Having a child changed my life.  It changed the way I saw Christmas- seeing it through a child’s eyes again made me feel young at heart… and in such awe.

Then Bjorn was born.  He was a boy who would hide away in his room all day long; he had no desire to interact with others.  He could sit in his room, in his quiet safe space, never speaking. Never connecting. Never touching.  A boy who could disappear from it all…. living in a space of void.

As a mom of a special needs child, my life had changed from experiencing life with my child to advocating for him.  I sought out what was best, what might work, and worked through all of the trial and errors. All year long I fought for my child-  for his voice, for his touch, for his very existence in a world where relationship and connecting is key.

Then the season of Christmas came- and I want so much to share this season of “jolly” with him.  I froze… How?  How did I bring a world of big, bright, loud, full, crowded, and more into the life that desired routine, structure, calm and quiet reign.  We had a problem…  our two worlds collided….

Our first three Christmases, Bjorn never joined us for more than 5 minutes.  He would open one present, walk away, and go back to his room.  We rarely went out, we never went to parties… and decorations never came out until two days before the 25th.  I was sad.  Not just for him, but for (I’m being honest here) myself.  Here I wanted to “do” all these things… to experience all these with my boys… and I couldn’t.  Let’s be real here… I was having a holiday pity party with the table set for one- me!

Then I began to pray and pray and pray.  How was I going to bring the Light of the World to my child who didn’t know how to be part of the world? I then began to listen.  Listen to my son. Listen to my Lord, and listen to the Truth.  It was amazing what happened when I took my eyes of what I wanted and looked at what my son needed.

This is what I heard… STOP.  SIMPLE.  SHARE. And BE.

The first thing I learned was to STOP.  Just STOP.  I had to stop my expectations for what I thought was important and begin to listen (really listen hard) to what my son needed.  This listening was hard to do, because it meant putting myself in his place, a place I had never known. But I had to listen to what he heard during this time of year. Once I did,  I was shocked when I figured out he heard a “hum”, a hum that was loud, piercing, and really painful. It wasn’t an audible hum… but a hustle-bustle type of hum that scared him.  At times the hum was so inaudibly loud that he would just cover his ears, wanting it to disappear.

The second thing I learned was to keep it simple.  Simple meaning…. Not too much, and as little instruction as possible.  I would plan one activity for that season… one thing that would show him the “holiday spirit” and invite in the story of our Savior into his little life.  Simple and sweet….  If it went well I could add the experience to the next year.  Doing this was allowing him to process, to digest, and to experience at his level.  Honestly, sometimes his process time took weeks… weeks!  So, in the Spring he would say something about Christmas that would knock my socks off – and that is how I knew, giving him too much never gave him the time to process the experience- but once he processed it, he could relate to it.

Thirdly, was to share.  I talked and talked and talked.  I shared about what we were going to do, when we were doing it, what it was going to look like and what possible surprises we could expect.  This was intentional preparation… basically “covering the bases”.  I also shared with him the safety things he could do if he was overwhelmed or needed to communicate that he was not feeling right.  We began to set up a signal that he could make if I needed to get him out of the room to a quiet area for him to just seek out the calm he needed.  I became his trust…. He knew that he and I were a team, and that I had his back in times of trouble. This moment was huge for us!  HUGE!  (side note- make sure you keep your sharing simple too. Limit your words to 3-5 word sentences. Be direct and to the point.  As a mom, I always forget this rule… and over share… you know… the TMI rule.  With Special needs kids… there is such a thing as TO MUCH INFORMATION! Trust me.)

And Finally… BE.  Be in the moment. Be Christ to your child. Be the gift that the Lord gave to us… Be your child’s hope.  Be your child’s love. And Be your child’s peace.  May we all see the season as one that is focused on BEING with each other… Once I realized that the holiday season was not so much about the excitement of doing but in the magic of being, it wasn’t my son who changed… It was me.

Now I sing a new song… a song that is beautiful and perfect…

It is one that rings “all is calm, all is bright”.

[(in)Able is a community group for moms of kids with special needs.  We’re a part of a larger group of women in all stages of life over at (in)courage.  Every other Wednesday, you’ll find a letter here specifically (in)couraging and (in)abling women in their journey as a mom of kids with special-needs. You can join us daily HERE.]


in which I consider cancelling Christmas

If we’re friends on facebook, you know that Jesus of the Nativity and his two Ceramic Parents met an untimely and Earthly end earlier this fall when Gideon James freed them from their basement storage manger. This left me with a strong desire to start some Mulder traditions but with nothing to anchor the effort.  When this advent calendar went on sale, I pounced. It would be the perfect backdrop for a lifetime of December memories. Yes.  When it arrived in Thursday’s mail, Gus Man helped me carefully unwrap the ark (Boat! Mom! Boat!), all 24 little animals, and sweet Noah.

I was feeling good.

noahpolaroid

The children were in love.  After a brief course in the Ethics of an Advent Calendar (which basically boils down to one rule: No Peeking), the boat was placed on the hutch and Noah was set out in anticipation of his flock joining him throughout the month.  There was much ooohing and ahhing and touching.  I have no delusions of this sitting high on shelf and never being maimed by my children. The Good News is a hands-on story here, Folks. But, MY LANTA, if I didn’t expect for Noah to go missing after 30 minutes.

Y’all. 

Honestly.

By the time Curt got home from work, Noah was no where to be found. I had rescued him myself twice… once from driving a (toy) bulldozer, and once from shepherding in the confines of (toy) barn with a monkey, a giraffe, and a moose.  Gideon James.  Clearly, we had a good idea of who was responsible for Noah’s disappearance, but repeated questioning only resulted in a (very cute but maddening) shrug.

So, Mamma took a walk.  Mamma needed to breathe some fresh air. MAMMA JUST WANTED IT TO BE SPECIAL, PEOPLE. We didn’t even make it to DAY ONE.  I walked out to the garden where the children had been playing tackle. No Noah. I walked to the pole barn, where the shorter child had unrolled the air compressor hose to fix his wagon. No Noah. I looked under the van, on the porch swing, in the dog’s water bowl.

No Noah.

I briefly considered cancelling Christmas. Obviously, my family cannot handle the pressure. But, I rallied.

I gathered the troops… the 2 troops… and squished them together on the leather wing-back chair  next to the boat.

I closed my eyes and put a gentle, non-scary smile on my face.

“Children, whom I love and adore,” I started, “Where is Noah? Think. Think hard. He is here somewhere. I’m not mad. I’m not even surprised. I just want Noah back. WHERE IS NOAH TELLMENOW.”

And, without pause or rehearsal,

Rylie pointed up and said, “Heaven.

while Gus pointed at me and said, “No peeking.

Epilogue

Noah was found

later that evening

 deep under the hutch

with chocolate chip remnants on him

(GIDEON JAMES).

Noah is now permanently attached to his craft

with gorilla glue.

Christmas is still on.

I am in it to win it,

come hell or 40 days of high water.

 


’tis the season

When I was child,

It was just the 4 of us, and we were an ocean away from extended family.  There was a nativity that played music, an advent wreath, and chocolate advent calendars.  There was a birthday on the 19th (Daniel Charles!) which started Christmas vacation, and there were movies and movies and more movies.  There was a real, live Christmas tree with fat, colored lights and silver tinsel, and there was midnight mass and white tights.  There was ONE present… but only one… allowed on Christmas Eve.  There were presents from Santa left out in the open and stockings full to be enjoyed immediately upon waking.  There were wrapped presents from family, but those were not to be touched until the the video camera was ready. There was grace and ham with scalloped potatoes for dinner.  My birthday came 3 days later, when we were usually on a ski slope.  The tree stayed up until January 6th, and there was never any question about who we were celebrating or why… We had waited.  He had come.  And He was welcome.

Now that I am older,

It’s the 5 of us.  Abby starts our season with a birthday on the 15th.  There are extended-family gatherings throughout the month… because we are blessed to live near extended family!  We still have a real, live tree but with little, white lights.  We had a small, ceramic nativity but not anymore (Gideon James).  My small family still opens gifts together on Christmas day.  We still eat ham and potatoes in the early afternoon, and my birthday still comes 3 days after His.

It has been such a struggle for me to get into family traditions now that I have my own family.  This came as somewhat of a surprise to me, given I feel like tradition should be mandated in the constitution.  Long live costumes and stories of yore.  Love yore.  But, you get married and you have a kid and all the sudden it’s 8 Christmas-es later and you realize you have never once made it through an advent season with marked educational or devotional success.  Y’all, I don’t think we even had stockings the first year. We were given an amazing box of tree decorations as a wedding gift so we wouldn’t start with a bare tree, but I have done little to compliment that over the years.   Nothing to encourage us to anticipate, nothing to remind us to await.

Perhaps I thought tradition would find me… that it was one of those things that came naturally, built in-between the lines of marriage vows and hospital nurseries.  Turns out, you must pick and choose and make it happen.  Stunner really, that I am almost 36 and still learning life takes effort beyond participation.

A whole week between Thanksgiving and December 1st this year gave me enough time to do complete an internet Tradition Research & Purchase mission.  We have music to listen to: tradition.  We have stories to read: tradition. We have calendars to open: tradition.   We have ornaments to hang: tradition.  I know it takes time for tradition to grab ‘hold with roots, but at least we’re sowing some seeds now.  We are ready to remember to await.  We will attempt to prepare a space.  To teach, as parents, our children why this time is so special. To remember, as Believers, why this time is so special. It’s on.

Ok, so real-tree or fake-tree, People?

I am firmly in the real-tree camp.

Some resources for you as you plant your own traditions:

books and music and such

calendars and ornaments