Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Her Precious Heart

Bedtime for Audrey is still very much a routine. She does not go to sleep without her bedtime prayer. And that prayer must contain two requests: that she not be scared and that she have good dreams, not bad.

Last night, I was taken by surprise when, after my prayer, she asked, "Mommy, what does 'asking Jesus into your heart' mean?"

I explained it to her after which she asked, "How do I ask Jesus into my heart?"

Of course I explained that to her as well. It's a hard concept to understand having Somebody in your little heart! After I put it into six-year-old terms, I asked her if she understood and wanted to ask Jesus into her heart.

She smiled and nodded.

And she prayed a prayer along with me admitting she, like all of us, is a sinner; asking for forgiveness; and asking Jesus to be Lord of her life.

We talked a bit about what it means to have Jesus as Lord of your life.

And I walked out of the room with my heart VERY full.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Day After Thanksgiving

One of my favorite days of the year is the day after Thanksgiving. It's the day I get to unbox all of the Christmas memories. The day everyone humors me and lets me blast my Trans Siberian Orchestra and - dare I say it? - my Kenny G holiday tunes. And the day whose end finds our home decked out in all sorts of Christmas regalia. Most importantly, it's the day I get to hang out with my family, fulfilling all kinds of traditional rituals.

First, there are the annual ornament gifts.
ornament gifts

I try to select a meaningful ornament for each child that captures some memory from the year. For example, this year Audrey received a replica of one of her favorite books of the year.
ornament Wild Things

Naturally, the decorating comes next. As usual, the Princess is the only one who ever cooperates for any photos.

Audrey decorating

Santa Audrey

Audrey decorating2

After decorating is the all-important hot chocolate. It must be thick. It must be chocolaty. And it must have a maximum number of marshmallows topped by gobs of whipped cream.
hot chocolate

hot chocolate Jacob

hot chocolate Michael

hot chocolate Alex

I was surprised that my favorite part of the Day After Thanksgiving this year was the reading of A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree.
A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree

I was worried there would be some eye rolling, some snickering, and some "Are we really going to read this baby book again?" comments. But there weren't. Everyone sat expectantly while I retrieved the book. And they listened with rapt attention.

I hope they never get too old for the reading of A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Holiday Spirit

I have to admit. I wasn't feeling an ounce of holiday spirit when Thanksgiving day dawned this year. This is the first Thanksgiving we have celebrated with just the six of us. I started the day with the thought that if I don't have 30 people sitting down to share our meal, it is not Thanksgiving. But, you know what? It turned out OK, and I would venture to say the day turned on the holiday spirit more than any other Thanksgiving past.

We started our day in a relaxed sort of way. I didn't have to worry about cleaning the bathrooms or vacuuming the floors. We weren't rushing around trying to get turkeys basted and casseroles heated on a timetable. In fact, we didn't even have turkey. The kids helped us make our family menu, and they chose chicken over turkey. Mark threw in a pork roast too, just to spice things up a bit.

We had a lovely dinner together after which we settled down to watch our first Christmas movie of the season. It started to feel a whole lot like Christmas! Watching Charlie Brown sit down to a dinner of toast and jelly beans added to the festive feeling in the air.

And of course nothing says holidays better than Black Friday. Ever since we got married, Mark and I have made Black Friday an almost-all-night date night. Our move to the Arctic kind of threw a wrench in that tradition since we do not have family to spend the night with the kids. Last year the tradition was saved by a friend who graciously agreed to be just crazy enough to attack the huge New York mall with me. She couldn't make it this year, though. I was bummed. Then on a whim, I asked my oldest if she wanted to go. Of course she did! Sometimes I forget she isn't five anymore.

Unfortunately, despite the addition of a new partner in crime, this year may have marked the end of my 17 year run on Black Friday. I'm sure the retailers are kicking themselves for not coming up with the brilliant idea of opening the stores late Thursday instead of in the wee hours of Friday. Staying up late instead of dragging oneself out of bed? Much easier on this night owl. And apparently much easier on, like, 10 million of my closest shopping buddies.

You know I despise crowds. So we only made it to two stores. BUT I had an awesome time with my girl. Great time with someone you love...that's what makes an experience worthwhile, so it certainly was worth the hassle to venture out last night.

With all this holiday spirit coursing through my veins, I'd say it's time to corral the family and get out the door to find a Christmas tree.