27 December 2010

Images from Christmas

Our weekend has been lovely - we called an "off limits" family time out for Thursday night and Friday. I had almost forgotten how delicious it is to simply be home together as the 5 of us. it doesn't happen often, between teenagers and our open house policy... we rarely seem to enjoy time to ourselves. Christmas eve (our Thursday) our kids were ready for bed by 7:30 - no kidding. 7:30. Billy and I were slightly surprised...what kid wants to go to bed at 7:30 on any night... let alone Christmas eve? but later in the evening things made more sense as we continued to hear them giggling all through the night. I went in and turned out lights at 11:30 - then heard they were up at 3 to peek in their stockings. When Avery woke up Friday morning (our family Christmas day) she looked a little bit like this for the first few hours...

On Friday we tried to keep every Michigan family tradition alive and mixed in with new SAfrican family traditions... biscuits and gravy for breakfast - hamburgers and onion rings for dinner. Watermelon in the swimming pool. Stockings as early as you want (although I prefer that the sun is up, obviously a guideline forgotten this year) but moms and dads get to stay in bed till 7:00 at least. We watched multiple episodes from season 4 Psych (thanks mom and dad!) and took a walk to make room in our tummies for more cookies and played cards and sang songs together and read the bible stories of Jesus' birth.

The kids made Billy a Starship Enterprise out of office supplies. I won't say I'm totally in favor of this Star Trek love he's instilled in them... but I will say it's cute they are all geeks together

Saturday morning was service at church filled with lots of Christmas carols - then we welcomed 20+ people over to celebrate the day with us. I made turkey, mashed potatoes and Katies' mac-n-cheese bake... other friends brought paap and voors and samp&beans and this peanutbutter cabbage that was super yummy. I threw together a salad at the last minute because i realized we only had protein and starches and cookies... no one ate the salad anyway.

Patricia, Grace, Steven, Billy , Ora, Amos

The kids swam, the adults talked and played and laughed. The only bad part of the day was when Amos took a bad spill on his bike down a hill - he's pretty gashed up all over, needed 7 stitches in his upper lip and broke/knocked out three teeth and loosened another one. He kind of slept the rest of the weekend and tomorrow we head to the dentist (everything is still closed for the holidays even now).

Grace, Dijaba, Patricia, Chrissy, Jordan, Kiera, Trevor, Me, Mlamleli

One great tradition that some dear Michigan friends started with us is a Christmas party game... we asked everyone to bring a small gift. It could be anything at all - we had lots of chocolate bars, a bag of paap (cornmeal), candles, plush toy, books... and then we set up a board to play a concentration game with drawings representing the different gift items. We pair up into teams to help each other remember where the hidden pictures are and play till everyone gets a gift to take home. It got a little loud, especially when friends on opposite teams tried to "secretly" help each other and then Happy kept thinking he knew where every item was - although Madyline and Avery were "out" of the game first with a plush toy and a pack of suckers. The kids won and saved a huge chocolate bar for Amos (who was upstairs sleeping after his crash).

Ora grilling Voors

Kiera at the pool

Amos (before the crash), Happy, Billy, Ora, Trevor, Steven and Lucky

All in all, it was a very sweet weekened. I always get terribly home sick this time of year. Missing family and snow and Star 105.7s 24hour christmas music and over-the-top holiday light displays and cookie exchanges and our speical services at Mars Hill. But we are making our own traditions here, ones that are rich with meaning and relationships and paper snowflakes peeking out through the sunshine. We are proving to ourselves that the season of celebration is more about where our hearts are than what the season is... or what is "feels like". Taking time to celebrate God's coming to live with us is an every day opportunity. Taking time to celebrate new life with our spirits is our every day choice. We get to live Christmas always. We get to be gifts to each other and living reminders that God has come to be with us, to change everything. I like that.

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