Throughout college I spent Christmas working a Tree Farm and finding out I'm allergic to pine (embarrassing, I know) and shuffling around to various friend's houses. As I've gotten older and moved around more, it's been harder on my pride factor to attend a friend's family for a few days and not feel like an imposition (as great as those families have been to have me- a 30something houseguest in a full house of virtual strangers seems a bit much). So the last few years I've spent Christmas at the beach and usually entertain other locals or out-of-towners with nowhere to go with the Ultimate Traditional Christmasfest wherever it is I'm living. Last year we made a real, live (not anymore) goose and everything. I even put some real potatoes in with my favourite potato pearls! Fancy. I know.
This year, one of my best friends from college called and invited me to her house for their traditional Mexican Christmas Eve dinner- but we realized I wouldn't be done with work in time to see the kids perform their traditional Nativity Scene (I've never actually seen one of these!) or her oldest child's newest puppet show OR get to hear them sing carols.
Work is ruining my life.
So last night we decided I would just get in late- help put the kids to bed- and then sleep over so I could experience a real Christmas morning. And by "real," I mean, the-kind-of-Christmas-morning-were-kids-wake-up-and-run-screaming-into-the-living-room-to-rip-apart-everything-left-under-the-tree. I cannot even express how excited I am to finally get to experience that. I truly believe I have waited my entire life to experience a Real Christmas like that. (I'm getting a bit teary in just thinking about it.)
As an only child from a rather humble background, we never really did presents. I might get a used game of magnets or something equally sad. When I lived with my grandparents, we were allowed to open stockings as early as we liked, but (as with everything else indoors) we were to handle ourselves at the utmost of decorum. Meaning, everyone in the house was to get dressed, be prepared for the day, sit down for breakfast and patiently wait for the other cousins to arrive. Then, one by one, we would open our one gift from Santa. Usually a used book from grampa's astounding collection from the barn, or sometimes we'd get really lucky with a group gift, like a new sled for us to share or a teddy bear.
Knowing this, my friend hesitated, warning, "I kind of thought about this- and I thought, 'I'm not sure how Farrah's going to handle Christmas morning'..."
"Do the kids wake up at 6 and freak out and just tear everything apart?"
"Well...we do try to encourage a little bit of order- to go slowly so the rest of us can wake up and adjust and take pictures, but...yeah. That's kind of what it's like."
"And we still have to get some things done, like put together Claire's bike and assemble the racetrack for Colin..."
"O my gosh! Claire's getting a BIKE for CHRISTMAS!?!?" (See what I mean? A BIKE and a RACE CAR TRACK!?!? ALREADY assembled!?!? Under the tree!??! Now THIS is a Real Christmas!)
"Yeah, so, you can help us do all that when they all go to bed-"
Nothing could make me more excited. In fact, I honestly believe that I might be the one with the hardest time going to bed and the I might even be the first one to wake up, I'm anticipating Christmas morning so much.
In preparation for my first Real Christmas morning, I went to bed at 10:30pm last night, so I could be ready for what a 6 am wake up on the couch with several children would be like. I got up and prayed that I would have a Christ-centered Christmas; that I would remain focused on the Savior and His work and my relationship with Him. A few minutes later, I opened the curtain to meet this:
It took my breath away. I haven't seen a sunrise like this in quite some time- probably months. To be so caught up in work and change and daily routines and all those little things that easily absorb your day, it's easy to miss out on the grandeur the Lord provides us every day. Every day, we have reminders that the Lord is present in our lives. We just need to open our curtains and stop long enough and remember to notice.
Merry Christmas, everyone.