Looking Back on Christmas - Complete PEACE

It's been a white Christmas here in the deep South... first one I've ever had, and I'm enjoying every minute. The picture above was taken just as we were finishing our dinner yesterday.... and as I type the snow is still falling.

Christmas in our house this year was peaceful. Slowly, over the past few years, we have felt inundated with gifts, stress, and all the trappings that don't have much to do with the true meaning of Christmas. So, this year we decided to do things differently. My husband and I made a pact - no gifts for each each other, and one gift for the kids (besides, they get so many gifts from all of our family). We took the money we would have spent on their Christmas gifts and donated to our new favorite charity, Love Without Boundaries.

Let me tell you - I thought this was going to be difficult for my kids. I am happy to say I underestimated them. Miss B, in particular, was so happy we were doing this, and I think GMan didn't even give it a second thought. Granted, Santa Claus did come - and brought each child a couple of things from their list, but compared to past years, it was a very scaled back Christmas.

I also have a special friend - my "Advent Buddy" who kept up with me each day and provided encouragement to be peaceful and intentional in the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Last Tuesday we met for breakfast and she gave me a wonderful scented red candle. When I lit it in the days leading up to Christmas it reminded me of the precious gift we have in Jesus, and how we needed to SLOW DOWN and remember that gift.

We had a lovely Christmas Eve service at our new church - the children participated in prelude music and then Miss B and a friend sang "Away In A Manger" during the offertory. It was so meaningful and a memory I will always have. Before the service our congregation celebrated with a birthday cake for Jesus. Have I mentioned how glad I am to be a part of our church family?

After church we did something very different for us.... we went out to dinner - Chili's. Normally we have some extended family over for dessert or a spaghetti dinner, but this year (in an effort to not put too much pressure on ourselves) we kept it simple. Normally I am stressed about getting the dinner ready before we leave for church and then getting home in enough time before the company arrives. We are always involved musically in the Christmas Eve service, so there is the added commitment that weighs on my mind. This year we focused on CHURCH and let everything else go. Perfect. We had a great time together, and I think this picture of my husband and Miss B sums up the mood:

We came home and put reindeer food in the front yard and some Snickerdoodles in the oven. The kids got everything ready for Santa, and we took the traditional Christmas Eve photo and read " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas".

Miss B had asked Santa for a keyboard (she is very into her music now and I LOVE it!).... he brought her a wonderful keyboard that will fuel her creativity!

Gman had very simple requests - a catcher's mask, a Winnie the Pooh watch, and a Nerf bandolier.... Santa obliged and we have darts flying all over the house.

As we were eating breakfast Christmas morning we remarked how QUIET it was -- there were no children whining to open presents, or worse yet - children crying because there were no more presents left. That happened last year, and I was shocked. Most of the day was spent with Miss B on the keyboard, GMan shooting darts and playing Wii, and lots of reading! (We are blessed to have grandparents and aunts and uncles that fuel the children's love of reading.)

I could kick myself for not getting picture of Christmas dinner - but my husband and I were busy in the kitchen most of the day, and I never thought to take pictures. My sweet father-in-law and sister-in-law and brother in-law came over for the feast (I'll post that menu next!). I felt victorious this year because we hosted both Thanksgiving and Christmas at our home and came out unscathed!

Actually, the greater victory was celebrating the birth of Christ in the most meaningful and simple ways.... and I'm hoping this will be a gift to my children that will last for years to come.