Christmas Traditions

24209137_1413034562098078_169668152_oWe have no kids home for Christmas this year. Not a one. It’s the first year that has happened to us, but it’s okay. We had warning, and celebrated on the Saturday after Thanksgiving instead (Santa owed me some favors so we had official approval on the switch). That way, we were able to embrace some of our family traditions, and we celebrated with Mom and 4/6 of our kids.

When the boys were young, they would sometimes get a box of Popsicle sticks as a gift. Armed with glue guns, those sticks turned into many hours of wondrous creativity (some of it a bit dangerous, I have come to learn — apparently one son made a shield so strong that he encouraged his brother to come at him with a knife so he could ward it off (ACK!!!!! Thank goodness for the angels that guard my boys! And I’m also super thankful the shield did its job. Whew!) )

This year I was feeling a bit nostalgic (Zeb kindly (and rightly) pointed that out to everyone when they opened their gifts and looked up with puzzled eyes). Knowing they were traveling soon, I chose our Popsicle stick alternate. The one we used for car entertainment when the kids were little (in retrospect, one of our more brilliant parenting moves). We gifted them with pipe cleaners. You can make a million things with them, and they are easy to travel with. No glue required. Also, I now realize they are a lot safer since they cannot be turned into bona fide shields.

A few days after they all returned to their lives away from us, Mollie sent us the picture of her pipe cleaner creation. I loved it enough to want to share it with you all. Isn’t she creative?

Soon I’m off to our candle-light Christmas service then will snuggle in for movies and junk food with Mom and Chris as I watch the incoming snowstorm from the coziness of our house. How perfect for a second Christmas.

We hope you all have a truly blessed holiday season.

Ten Days in Dempster

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I spent August 6-16 in a church camp in northern NY. We do this once a year, staying in a cabin with my mother-in-law. Other in-laws join for parts of the week, and we get to hang out with friends we only see a few times of year. It’s a time where we celebrate our faith by holding a vacation Bible school, attending nightly services, singing and going to Bible studies (all optional but available). It’s a time of lots of laughter, rest, rejuvenation and a reminder of not only the blessings we have, but also a reminder of how we can take our blessings and use them to help others.

A favorite part of the ten days for me is seeing the intergenerational interactions. The 80+-year-olds inspire our teens while our teens take the time to encourage and hang out with the little ones. My age bridges the age gap as we help the old ones move about and guide the teens as they play with the younger ones when our energy levels lapse.

The focus of the kids program this year was “Shine Like the Stars.” Our universe is amazing! We had science lessons that took our breath away. We are so small and insignificant in the scope of all creation, yet we are still considered important and unique. Amazing.

The focus of the program for everyone was light. How can we help others by lighting and clearing a path for them? One way is to reach out to help those in need. One night we learned about a remote area of Africa in which a local-to-us-woman goes to bring books so kids can learn to read and broaden knowledge to pull themselves out of poverty. She brings school supplies, books, and computers to them (plus some resources for food).

While that’s not a specific Christian outreach, it’s really what we (those of us in the camp) believe our faith is all about. Reaching out to help others with the gifts we have been given. It’s all pretty awesome, imho.

Now I’m home and back to my beautiful reality, but I feel refreshed. And I already miss my friends.

What a treat this camp is for my family.

* Many thanks to Carrie Trapasso Halladay for the majority of the images.