...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

One Happy Holiday

I know it is well past new years, but I want to tell you a little bit about our Christmas.

This may have been my favorite Christmas ever.  I came away from the holiday feeling so grateful and so blessed that I want to share a little bit of that.

For me, this year, the most incredible thing about our celebrations was the chance I had to see my kids be amazing people.  I came out of the holiday so impressed with the people my little ones are growing into that I can't help but brag a little bit.

Like most parents, we try to help our kids feel the magic of Christmas without getting so involved in the lists of "I wants" that they completely miss the reason for this celebration.  Now, we are not so misguided that we think we can completely eclipse the excitement of new things.  Everyone gets excited about new things, that's just part of life.  However, we do try to balance the giving and gratitude for our Savior, Jesus Christ, so that it is an ever present piece of our holiday.  It went alright, over all.

Christmas morning was highly charged.  The kids were up early (of course) but they are threatened with death if they come upstairs before 7:00 am (that's right, we are big, fat meanies).  We congregated, said family prayer and headed in for the Santa Treasures.

Now, our Christmases are nothing special.  We do live on a school teacher's income and we make no apologies for that (we are thankful that Josh loves his job and are more than willing to sacrifice big bucks for exceptionally happy employment).  

But the first beautiful part of the day for me was that my children were so pleased with their new things.  Some new books, a cute outfit, a punching bag, princess dolls...there was nothing amazing here... but my sweethearts were content and grateful.  Actually, they were glowing.  They twittered over and over about how grateful they were for such simple things and then delighted in each other's excitement as well (if you've never seen a 13 year old boy thrill with his baby sister over princess toys then you are seriously missing out).  It was such an incredible thing for me to see.  It made my heart smile.  I got all wrapped up in their happiness.  I was one very proud mother and I loved being able to bask in their sweet emotion as they doted over the smallest booty.

 But as tender as that feeling was for me, that wasn't my favorite part. 

After breakfast we all came back into the living room to open presents.  Actually, I guess I need to go back a bit before I move forward with the story.

The week before Christmas, our neighbors gave us $10 for each of our children as a gift because we shovel their sidewalks and care for their house when they are out of town.  That money allowed us to take the kids to Walmart on a shopping trip.  The kidlets drew sibling names and scoured the store to buy something special for their chosen brother or sister.  It was a fun night.  I loved watching them pore over the shelves and debate which gift would be most loved by the recipient.  What a great night.

But when it came time to open presents that aura only continued to grow.  At our house, we go youngest to oldest picking a gift for someone else to open from under the tree.  So Ellie would choose a gift for anyone except herself and then Logan would choose for someone else etc.  

Well, as we made our way through the line each child combed the gifts searching for the one they had bought for their sibling.  They waited in giddy anticipation -- every child, every time -- to see the face of the opener when the new thing emerged from the wrapping.  The receiving child was thrilled -- every time -- and I think their excitement, at least in part, was flavored by a desire to please the gift giver.  It would be hard for me to imagine a more loving and grateful Christmas morning than the one we experienced this year.

But the sweetness didn't stop there.  It carried over in small moments as we continued to spend the time off of school together.  

One event in particular comes to mind.  Josh had to go back to school on Thursday of last week while the other kids didn't start back until Monday.  So, on Thursday, I decided to take the kids to the dollar theater to see a movie.  We opted to split up and the three older kids went to "Ender's Game" (a book they all love) while I took the three youngest kids to see "Free Birds" (which may be the WORST animated movie I have ever seen in my life...it was HORRIBLE!!).

Because the movies ended a few minutes apart, the older kids were out of the theater before I was (like 10 or so minutes) so they were waiting for me in the attached arcade.  A sweet man from our ward happened to be at the same movie they were and gave them $5 to play games while they waited for me.  They changed their new bounty into quarters and started to play.  

But the awesome part was that without being asked, they each set aside a few quarters to share with their younger siblings who weren't even there yet.  Then, when we did get there, Aubrey and Parker both scooped up Ellie and Logan allowing them to choose games and also helping them to play the games since my littlest ones were having a hard time.  I didn't have to say a word.  They took the young ones under their wing and then glowed in the success of their young protegees.

Few things make me more proud than watching my sweethearts look out for someone who needs them.  I love it when they put aside their own wants and needs to try to help out someone else.  I love it when they choose on their own to bless the life of another person.

Now, all that said, we also had plenty of moments of anger and fighting and pouting  and whining over the holiday.  We had our fair share of tormenting and harassing and "he touched my" and "how come I have to" and "why did he get to" and "how come I can't" and worst of all "MOOOOOOOOM!!!"

But these little glimpses of harmony and purity and kindness and love carry a lot of weight for me. They give me hope that despite the crying and screaming and everything else that sometimes makes being the mom a pretty rough gig there is also a beauty hanging out just below the surface.

And when I get to see it, it is an incredible thing indeed.

I hope your holiday was a wonderful one too.  

Playing dreidel together...for real...it was really fun.

Wrestling with dad.

My favorite sprites on the planet.

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