This is my obligatory Christmas blog. One who fancies herself (or himself) a blogger, must post about Christmas, New Years, Easter and Fourth of July, right? Well, maybe that's not in the bylaws, but I feel like I'm cheating somehow if I don't mention our Christmas season.
First, I have finally come to love Christmas. After 5 years of hating it, 3 of tolerating it and 5 more of trying to reconcile the materialism of the season with the beauty of its meaning. I have finally given in and loved it again. It helps that I have 3 precious boys that absolutely love Jesus and toys. I was struck by the irony that we preach "Christmas is not about getting but about giving" when the true meaning of Christmas is our "getting" in a way we could never "give". The joy of my boys opening their presents and loving what they got with unadulterated abandon is EXACTLY how we are supposed to feel on Christmas. That is the small and shallow reflection of what it means to "open up" our present of Jesus. We give presents on Christmas to represent the gifts of the magi, and we give presents on Christmas because its Jesus' birthday and we can't gift him, so we gift each other; and we give presents on Christmas because "tis better to give than to receive" and all of that is true, true, true. I tell my kids the same things. But as I watched them open their presents, I realized that it's also because we are teaching them to receive with joy. We are to receive Him with joy and abandon and foolish delight the way my kids received their remote control helicopter and race car and their matching walkie-talkies. We are to delightedly discover Jesus everyday the way they revel in their new pajamas and didn't take them off for 48 hours. We are to receive him "like a child". I saw that Christmas morning. Dear Jesus, I want to delight in the gift of you as my children delight in the gifts I give them!
But I'll get out from behind the pulpit. That's Jonathan's job...
Secondly, we were surrounded by family. Jonathan's brother and dad flew in to see us (well his dad came just to see us, his brother has a g-friend in Dallas that he came to see and tagged us on too). But for seeing their Colorado relatives only once a year, my kids are smitten. They absolutely love their Papa, and Uncle Michael is THE BEST!! I laughed so hard when I caught Gideon and Michael holed up in the new pop-up tent Michael got them, watching videos on Michael's new camera. Michael was practically folded in half to be in there, but he wanted to hang with Gideon (and who doesn't?) so he crawled in with him. Michael also brought Roman Centurion costumes from his "pilgrimmage" to Rome which the boys adored! They are really cute, but my favorite is Judah dressed up in his breastplate, helmet, shield, sword and night-vision goggles we got him. Yep, you read that right. Some night-vision specs completed the roman warrior outfit. My dad asked him if he was entirely sure that ensemble all went together. I assured my father that that was the secret weapon that allowed Rome to conquer the known world: night-vision. The Gauls couldn't compete with that!
Thirdly, and maybe most important (okay, running a close second to Jesus' birthday) is that Jonathan has been off work for 9 days!! He had vacation built up that he had to use or lose by Jan 1, so we chose to use it and get 9 consecutive days home. I cannot tell you what a blessing having him home regularly has been. It's like I can breathe again. And when he didn't have to leave on day three, I actually took a breath and relaxed. I love that he likes his job, but I hate his schedule. We miss him so much!
And finally, my presents: Mark Twain Autobiography, Vol 1 and a new ESV Bible!!! I was so happy! I knew I was getting the Bible. I had gotten Jonathan one a year and half ago, and after a lifetime of being a dedicated NASB reader, I was sold on switching. But, we had no money, so I just prayed and asked God for an ESV. I know that sounds odd, but hear me out: He gave me one! Right after Jonathan started work at the Ranch, they cleaned out the "lost and found" from kids who had moved out and left stuff and there was an compact ESV that had the exact same embossing on it as Jonathan's. It was like a mini-me of Jonathan's Bible. He brought it home and I was shocked that God had really given me an ESV for free like I asked. I know I shouldn't be shocked at God any more, but I continually am! He's just so faithful and funny.
So, I love my compact ESV, but "compact" is Greek for "nearly illegible the print is so small". I've been struggling to read it, literally. Not in a "have a hard time with the discipline of Bible study" but like "I can't make out the words"! So, Jonathan wanted to get me a legible one for Christmas. It's gorgeous! However, in my weird mind, it's still odd that when the Word became flesh, "He had no stately form or majesty that we would be attracted to Him," but when the word comes out in print, we dress it in calfskin leather and emboss it with Celtic crosses or roses to make it beautiful and feel special. Don't get me wrong, I love my Bible and I fully intend on reading it and carrying it with me and not ripping the cover off and making a duct-tape cover to feel more holy. Just my odd brain at work.
As to Mark Twain, well, ever since I heard the embargo was up in November 2010, I've been panting after that book! I'm so excited. I'm behind on my book club book, so I have to refrain from diving in too much yet, but it's beckoning me from the bookshelf, just begging me to dive right in!
There, that was Christmas. I have so much more to talk about, but really, I have to be realistic about how much you, dear reader, can handle in one post.
PS. I must mention that there was a bit of nostalgia at the thought of our last Christmas in this house. Christmas 2011 will find us in a much snowier location and we shall see what adventures await us there. Thank you God, for the gift of 2010, the joy, the sorrow, the refining, growing, encouraging and rebuking You have done this year. And thank you, Father, that as it draws to a close, You were Lord of it all and will be Lord of 2011.