This year, of course, I was at my house. But...in a beautiful twist of events, a friend of ours needed a little childcare to finish up holiday shopping and it only took about 3 seconds after seeing her request on Facebook before I messaged her and begged:).
Now, there are some times being a "party of two" is fun. If we want to go to dinner, we just hop in the car. We can be spontaneous. I spend my Saturday however I want. But Christmas Eve? Way, way better with kids. Way. So, it tickled me three shades of pink when a knock at my door signified a 1 year old and a 3 year old on my doorstep. We spent the morning watching Charlie Brown (after realizing the Rudolph cartoon on Netflix is both pointless and racist), eating sugar cookies at 10 a.m., making construction paper snowflakes, construction paper Christmas trees, and well, snuggling. When their parents returned, we were all bummed. Except when I realized it was nap time and I didn't have to figure out how to get a sugared up, Christmas-hungry kiddo to nap. Are we sure there's no way to skip straight to grandparenting?
I spent the rest of the afternoon at work, preparing for my favorite service of the year. By 3:30, the church was packed and E and I were standing on the side aisle without a chair. In time, a family pointed out some seats next to them but many were left without. Christmas Eve really is one of my favorite services of the year but in full disclosure this is the very first time I've been at my church in town. Luckily, God knows me so well he kept the changes to a minimum. I usually help my dad serve communion at his church and instead I got to serve at my church.
I don't know if I have mentioned this before but I love serving communion. It brings tears to my eyes every time. This time was no exception. I watched whole families come to the front and partake in the body and blood together. The church was so full and people just kept streaming down the aisle. Now, I have been in a ministry family for a long time so I know that many of those people coming down the aisle may not have been in a sanctuary (or auditorium if you're new-school like we are) in a long time. Or Ever. And I think that was actually one of the most moving things to me. People hearing the gospel of Jesus, fresh and new. Call me naive but I don't care why you come to church. You can be there because it's tradition. Because you feel like you're supposed to. Because you're lonely and it makes you feel at home. Maybe even because a relative drags you there. But if you're there and you get to hear the true love God shared when he put on flesh and came into the world to live WITH us and teach us the way home, it's a beautiful thing in my book. So come begrudgingly. Come with a chip on your shoulder. Just come. Because he loves you.
Ok that was a little off track. But seriously it was just the. most. beautiful to share the incarnation with so many people I love, even if I did truly miss my momma and dad. When the service ended, I went back to my wing and watched kids learn the story all over again. It's always different through their eyes. And aside from the one child who disrupted the telling of the Christmas story to tell me, "I HATE this church!!," it was a beautiful, childlike, magical evening (for the record, I said, "It's completely fine if you hate this church but you still need to sit on your bottom, put a bubble in your mouth, and be quiet:)").
Once the final cookies were iced (yes--we are crazy and had children ice and eat sugar cookies at the service) and all the children had gone home, E and I tried to find some food, only to realize everything was closed. And so, I went home to pack and E filled the car with gas and grabbed the best Christmas Eve dinner the gas station could provide. Two hours later, we arrived at my parents house, winning the 2012 Child of the Year competition, since I was the only one to make it home for Christmas. Mark, Pete, if you are reading this I'm kidding. But if you're not, I'm not either. No really, just kidding. It was actually super weird to not have any siblings home at Christmas. Apparently having fabulous significant others means the boys spend some time with their families.
After a real Christmas Eve dinner (even though the Corn Nuts were delicious), we opened stockings, had egg nog, and crashed. Since there are no children in our family, we woke up whenever we wanted.
Which was 6:30 a.m. because we all have dogs who don't sleep in the company of other dogs. So we opened presents at about 7 and I am the proud new owner of this beauty:
Which is ironic because on the way down to my parents, E and I answered tons of questions to keep busy, one of which being a new hobby we'd like to take up. Mine was sewing. My mom is a terrific seamstress. Not only does she know how to take the duct tape off my dress pants and replace it with a new hem but she made dresses for me growing up, curtains that are currently in my kitchen, and so many other things. So, I watched the accompanying DVD and then tried to thread my machine.
An hour later, I made this beautiful stitch:
I mean, I know. It's glorious and only a little bumpy. But I decided I could do more. So Mom found some old fabric for me to screw up on and pulled out a purse pattern. She's so smart she even pre-picked a pattern with several teaching features (straight stitches, curved stitches, turning, and darting. woot woot.) to teach me. So the rest of the day, I ignored all other things and made this purse:
Yes, it has fish on it. Eric says it's hipster so I shall be wearing it to Ragtag to watch the newest independent film. Or something.
It's not perfect but it was so exciting to start the day with nothing and end with a fish purse. I may or may not have chanted "FISH PURSE, FISH PURSE" for the whole evening while watching Hallmark Channel movies and, of course, White Christmas (now there's a tradition we've had for a while).
Plans for this week: make more things. But first, I need to grab some supplies. While I was making a fish purse, Eric and the pups were doing this:
We also had a lovely dinner (but not the regular Christmas dinner--we did something--gasp--different!!), shared great times, and talked to both of those boys and their significant others. What a Christmas. We left early this morning. We were all worn out. See:
It was a beautiful Christmas in all senses. I pray yours was as well.