. . . but we are “Merry Christmas” kind of people. “Merry Christmas”, as opposed to “Happy Holiday’s”, that is. From cards in the mail to the person ringing bells as I leave the store with my groceries, I love to hear the two simple words that draw my attention back to the reason we celebrate this season.
When I was growing up, we had more than our fair share of traditions that made this time of year so special. From decorating the tree to car rides just to ooh and aah at the beautiful lights and from relaxing around the tree on a quiet Christmas Eve to my dad blaring I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas from the stereo, signaling the arrival of Christmas morning. I remember it all in such detail because these traditions were the glue that held us together and made us, us.
Now that I have my own family I long to create such traditions that my kids will remember forever. . . but I’ll admit that it’s not as easy as I thought it would be. In a season that seems so busy with shopping, baking, gathering, and running from here to there. . . sometimes survival seems like a task in and of itself. This is why I didn’t hesitate when my in-laws told me about an event in their community and asked if we’d like to bring the kids. All I could think was: this will create memories. In an hours time we made a quick change in plans for the evening and loaded up the car.
Our first stop was a local furniture store where we were warmly greeted with the sounds of blue-grass-ish type Christmas music and the smell of warm coffee. I had explained to the kids that we were going on a Journey to Bethlehem and they excitedly asked “Is this Bethlehem?” It wasn’t. . . but it was there that we received our directions to our destination.
Next, we quickly made our way out into the community. It was a frigid, winter night with snowflakes dancing through the air. We traveled by foot and by car to eight different stops, where the kids were able to experience, first hand, what it is that we celebrate at Christmas. From an angry king, to an inn without vacancies, to wise men and angels leading the way. . . they had an experience. . .
The journey took us through local shops where we heard story of the very first Christmas in a unique and fun way. We made our way to a marketplace where we warmed our insides and our outsides, before making our way to the final destination.
Evenings like this focus my attention on how thankful I am to live in the special little community that seems to have held tightly to the importance of slowing down, celebrating family, and enjoying the simple things. A place where we stand face to face with animals of all kinds and warm ourselves by the heat of a huge bonfire. A place where the kids hold their hands out to feed sheep, goats, and even camels under the watchful eye of parents.
|We put food for the camel on my MIL’s hat. She’s a daring one. . .|
|I adore this picture. . . that childlike smile on my husbands face is the perfect
representation of who he is. . .
As we walked past the animals through the huge, dark, cold barn we laughed, commented, and touched each one, making our way to the back of the barn. It was in the back of the barn where we were met with this scene. . .
A baby. . . a real, breathing, 6-week old baby swaddled in warm blankets, sleeping peacefully and representing the reason we celebrate this beautiful season. It is in the chaos of the season that a simple picture brings me back to that which is really important.
My kids? Oh, I think they will remember this.
Yep. . . we say Merry Christmas.