Christmas Highlights 2018

A FEW moments and events I do NOT want to forget from this 2018 holiday season.

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Addie + Santa: Addie has NEVER been willing to go anywhere near Santa or one of his helpers. I have begged and bribed to no avail, until this year. And, I missed it—of course! Gratefully, Geoff got the photo when at our church Christmas party, Addie suddenly decided to get in line with her friends, so she too could sit on Santa’s lap. #firsttime

Skyping Elder Julian: Seeing Trey and hearing is voice was pretty much the ONLY thing I truly needed for Christmas. We were thrilled when he wrote us and said he was scheduled for a call on Christmas Eve. Thanks to Skype—with a few technical challenges on the Mexican side—we were able to connect Clark & Lauren in Arizona with our family in Spokane and Trey in Guaymas. He is LOVING his mission so far. Naturally, there are hard days, but he says, “I expected this and when I feel discourage I look at my nametag, see the name of Jesus Christ and remember that I’ve waited my whole life to be a missionary” He also said, “I love the people here and their language and discovering exactly how much I don’t know. I wake up each morning excited to discover more stuff I don’t know, ha!”

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Claire’s Bikes: This tradition is now in its 6th year and I LOVE it. I shared the backstory in an instagram post, but essentially, we go to Walmart and purchase as many bikes as we have people home and then we drop them off at our local fire station for Toys for Tots. I’d like to write a full blog post about this someday!

Candy Jar: I LOVE our candy jar tradition. As close to December 1st as possible, we set up our snowman display by our front door and add to this table a jar filled with candy. I purchase a different size and shape of jar each year and use a variety of individually wrapped candy to fill it. We then provide post-it notes and a pen. When someone comes for a visit or a drop-off in December they are encouraged to guess how much candy is in the jar. Then, on December 26th, we dump the candy, count it up and deliver the jar to the WINNER, who this year was our friend, Kate. When we showed up at her door, she exclaimed, “Did I really win the jar of candy?!” So FUN.

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Pop-up Potato Bar: I’m SO thankful for my awesome friend, Janea, who suggested a very meaningful Christmas Eve activity, based on experiences her family has had when they lived in Seattle. She called one morning about a week ago and said, “Do you guys want to help us feed the homeless downtown?”
”Of course!” was my response and after an energetic brainstorm session, we landed on the idea of a pop-up potato bar, which was a HUGE success. I bought 2 of the 15lb bags of Costco potatoes (the really HUGE ones) and had my kids wash them, cut them in half and wrap them in foil. We managed to squeeze 67-ish in a roaster oven and baked them all night on low. I baked a few more in my oven early in the morning. They were HOT and ready to mash up for toppings. We loaded our vans, drove downtown and pulled up across from House of Charity where we put up our folding table. What happened next was truly amazing and so heart-warming. We began to attract attention and a line formed. We gave each person a potato and as they moved down the table, our kids added the toppings. Janea made a BIG pot of chili and brought a bowl of diced ham. I brought sour cream, bacon bits and cheese. It felt like we had a ton of food, but it was ALL gone in 30 minutes—just as we were running out, a man pulled up in his car, rolled down his window and said, “I’ve got some trays of sandwiches. Would that help?” Talk about little Christmas miracles. We estimated that we were able to give 100 people some fresh— if not hot— yummy food and our kids were unanimous in their desire to return next year, with the stipulation that we bring MORE food and more families. It was so great to serve in this way and to receive some wonderful HUGS from people, who for whatever reason are currently without a home and hard on their luck. On the way home, Addie kept saying, “I’m really glad we have a house!”

Elf Shenanigans: I am NOT the most creative Elf mom by a long shot, but we had TONS of fun this year with Egbert. If you’ve read this post, then you know that Egbert created a mini scrapbook for Addie, which she actually finished today. I printed a few more photos and she added some story from her perspective. My girl is a fierce believer and 100% willing to defend any discrepancies or missteps that might spark doubts in a more critical observer.

These moments along with a few other covert operations made this December a most wonderful time of the year indeed. I’ve learned that for me secret is to embrace the madness, let go of all the list-making and perfection and dive in with a determination to do and experience as much as you possibly can. Will you be tired and need a nap on Christmas? Yes. Will it be worth it? Double YES. I get to decide how I want to think and feel about Christmas—and who I want to celebrate in December. No one else gets to decide for me, and that is a most magical realization, which can result in a great deal of FUN.