Advent started off so great – SO GREAT. I was the keynote speaker at a women’s retreat in Dallas that first weekend. Even though strep had hit our house, hard, the day provided me an opportunity to speak, spend time in Adoration, go to confession and sit and chat with the loveliest of women.
Boy, did my heart need all of that.
I arrived home, riding the cloud, and we were stoked to participate in our parish mission with the ever-hilarious, ever-faithful, ever-awesome Fr. Leo. May I just say how much I *love* that our parish has an Advent mission speaker? The proceeds benefit our youth group, but I keep finding how much they’re strengthening me and my faith. Will was even on Fr. Leo’s IG feed in a video. You gotta check it out, “Gosh, he’s tall!”
Then, the bottom fell out. People kept getting sick. There was more strep throat, UTIs and stomach bugs, specialist visits, bathroom remodel decisions and the end-of-year crazy. By December 19, I pretty much felt like we all clawed our way to the finish line. This Christmas break has done wonders for my soul. There were no practices to attend, no homework to cry about, no schedules to keep. We got to just sit, and be. I did have some minor surgery, but I am healing well (the first 24 hours always bite) and grateful for the time of rest.
While the scrapbook of photos below shows (mostly) smiling faces, it wasn’t without its sibling fights and tense moments, its eye rolls and slammed doors. Because, hey, that’s life. I pray your Advent and Christmas season has been filled with memories, mostly good ones. It was hard celebrating the holidays without this guy, but there has been much to reflect upon and even more in which to be grateful. I’m choosing to see the good, while working on the not-so-good within.
On December 8, Will, Anna-Laura and Clare all competed at the 4-H District Food Show and Challenge competitions. Will’s headed to state, and the girls both placed in the top five! There was a teeny bit of a heart stopping moment when I left during Will’s judging and part of his dish was in my minivan. Lord have mercy. I ran back in time and he still placed first. Whew.
Anna-Laura told us the flute section (which is just her and a good friend) had a solo at the Christmas band concert. She wasn’t kidding! They rocked it.
Our 4-H club prepared a meal at the Ronald McDonald House. Truly, there are few things in life that warm my heart more than serving families stuck in a children’s hospital during the holidays. I could see the tired in their eyes. It was a tremendous honor to have our kids willingly and lovingly prepare a stellar meal of enchiladas, rice and salad for those weary families.
And, how could we forget the visit with Santa? This is usually an excursion that happens the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, but because that’s when the strep throat dominoes began to fall at our house, we went the week school let out. We managed to skip the line, only by God’s grace, and this Santa was fantastic. Just before we walked away, he gathered all the kids around and reminded them of this: “I know there’s lots of fighting and sharing in a big family, but you know the great thing about them? There’s always a big group of people to love you, no matter what.” I might’ve teared up. Gianna is still not a fan, maybe next year?
Every December, my parents take the kids (and this year, our niece!) to the school’s “Breakfast with Santa.” They look forward to it every year and Scott and I relish in a quiet house for a few hours.
Gianna’s preschool Christmas program was on a different schedule than the bigs, so they were able to attend with me. When she saw us all, this was her reaction. Praise Jesus it wasn’t tears!
I hesitated to post this photo, but then thought, why not? Luke was over the family photos, but if you look hard you can spy his red pants behind mine. Some years you win, some years you don’t. We decided this was a battle we didn’t want to wage. Ha!
And, a few snapshots from Christmas Eve – Scott praying over the gifts, our “happy birthday Jesus” cookies and Luke with his homemade presents.
Merry Christmas, y’all.