This truly is the most wonderful time of the year in my book! I love Christmas! I love all of the sparkling lights and beautiful decorations. I love watching the little children with wide eyes and looks of wonder on their faces as they take in all of the sights and sounds of Christmas!
Thursday night we attended a Christmas program at my daughter’s school. They have been working hard for three months! The night had finally arrived for them to strut their stuff on stage. They have been anxiously awaiting this day, and it was finally here! All of the parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, and friends gathered in the auditorium in great anticipation. With cameras and video recorders in hand, we all waited together counting the minutes before the program was to begin. These little ones beamed with so much pride and the joy that filled their hearts spilled out into the audience onto all of us! If any one entered that auditorium feeling less than happy, I can guarantee that they left revived and with new joy within their hearts after seeing these children on stage. From the opening act which included the high school teens strumming on their guitars making beautiful music, to the elementary school choir singing as they were positioned in the form of a Christmas tree, to the “dancers” on the side moving in rhythm to the music and signing beautifully to the words of the song, to the solo pieces, to Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the shepherds, the angels, right down to the closing number … it blessed my heart and soul completely! I was so happy to be a part of that evening. You see, before we knew the date of the Christmas program, we purchased tickets to another event out of town. When my daughter brought home the school schedule and we realized the conflict with the dates, there was just no way that I was going to miss my daughter’s performance! We talked about it, we tried to sell the tickets and even tried to give them away but there were no takers, and then finally we resorted to begging and pleading with the ticket office explaining that our precious little one was performing on the SAME night. “Please, oh please, is there ANY thing you can do?!” When they looked on our account and realized the purchases we had made previously, they said they would give us the price of the tickets back! Yea!! Even if we had to take a loss on the cost of the tickets, we would have because I just could NOT miss my daughter performing in the Christmas play at school! No matter what my children are involved in, it is of the utmost importance that I am there to support them! It means a lot to them to look out in the audience and see us smiling back at them, giving them the “thumbs up” and recording their every move with our video cameras. They feel encouraged and inspired to do their very best. I am proud to be a part of this moment in time with them!
Last night we attended a Christmas party with our classic car club. We enjoyed a delicious meal hot off the grill, then played a few games, had lots of laughter and fun, and then ended with a Chinese Christmas gift exchange. That was great fun in and of itself. We had never been a part of the Chinese Christmas before until last year with the club. If you haven’t ever heard of it, the way we play it is that you draw numbers, and of course the number one goes first … but they also go last, too, which means that after every one else opens their gifts or decides to “take” a gift someone else has opened as their very own instead, the person that drew the number one gets to go around to all of the gifts (unless they have been retired, meaning the gifts have been “taken” from someone else having exchanged hands three times) to take their final pick that will go home with them. We laughed so hard as people “took” gifts from each other. Just seeing the surprised looks on their faces when it was happening provoked laughter in every one of us. My mom, at first, said, “Can you believe they did that last year with taking our presents?” I explained how the game was played, and she understood better this year why that occurred last year so they were totally in to the game this year with my dad even getting up and creeping on every one else’s presents, “taking” one from someone else as his very own when it was his turn. That was great fun! My husband was the lucky number one last night, so when it came time for his final selection he leaned in to me to ask if there was any thing I would like out of every one else’s gifts. I saw one of our members with her arms stretched out and hands clasped over a pretty little red ceramic cookie jar in the shape of a Christmas present with white polka dots on it and tied with a fluffy green ceramic bow on top. Every time my husband would walk closer to her, she would nervously wring her hands together while looking away as if no one would notice. I noticed, though. ~giggling~ It was great fun when he came back to me one final time to ask if there was any thing I’d like to take home that evening. How sweet of him to consult me when it was HIS selection to make. I already had my present, but he was asking if there was any thing else I’d like to have. Well … there was one … that pretty red ceramic cookie jar!! He made his way slowly back over to the area where this lady was sitting, and when he reached out to “take” the cookie jar from her, the look on her face was priceless!! The room was filled with laughter at this point as he claimed that cookie jar for his own. It was all in good fun in front of everyone, but after the Chinese Christmas gift exchange was over I did tell her in front of some of the others that we just HAD to do this to her when we saw her sitting over there like that. I told her that she could really have the ceramic cookie jar back if she wanted it, but we just could not pass that opportunity up! She said that was what it was all about, having fun and making it interesting, and in the end she was okay with what took place and did not really want the ceramic cookie jar. So … upon my arrival home, my daughter so graciously accepted the gift of the cookie jar and made it her own with immediately placing a little bag of cookies inside. Sweet!
Tonight we are heading to a church in another town to hear the Singing Christmas Tree. We have heard a lot about this but have never attended before until this year. We are extremely excited and know that it will be a beautiful evening with our lovely family and wonderful friends. We originally had a group of 11 going, but sadly, two are now unable to come. We will miss them greatly.
In all of this that we do this holiday season, we are doing it for the fun, yes, the laughter, yes, the gift of being with others sharing in this time of the year … while also keeping in mind the REAL reason for the season – Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior!
We had the privilege of ringing the bell outside of a store in another town for the Salvation Army this Christmas. It is something that my husband’s company does every year. This year I was able to join him in doing this. We were not sure how we would be received by the mass of people going in to and out of the store. A lot of people do not want to make eye contact with you simply because they do not wish to give any thing to any one at any time, especially someone standing there ringing a bell no matter what their donations would be going toward. Meanwhile, there are others that almost race up to us with huge smiles on their faces and proudly place their heart felt donations into the bucket. We took great pride in telling each and every person that we came in contact with, yes even those that would not make eye contact and would not grunt a “hello” in return, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” So many people are changing to something they claim is less offensive like “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings.” Not us, though. We proudly and very loudly say, “Merry Christmas!” to each and every one that we can this holiday season. It IS because of Christ that we even have this precious holiday season to celebrate in the first place. IT IS BECAUSE OF CHRIST! The response from some was just amazing. Some that originally were stone faced not wishing to make eye contact turned completely around, smiled, and fished around in their pockets until they produced something, anything that they could drop into our little bucket. It was game changing that day. It made us sooooo proud to be standing there ringing our bells and saying those two words, “Merry Christmas!” They realized that WE made a conscious decision to KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS!!! We hope that you will do the same.