Monday, November 23, 2009

It's beginning to look like Christmas... the Clarke house! We had a wonderful time decorating for Christmas Saturday afternoon. While Rylan was sleeping, I hauled the tree upstairs. The lights were fully strung and twinkling when he woke up from his nap. I can't remember exactly what he said when he saw the tree, because it sounded like gibberish, but essentially he was awestruck. Caroline, who boycotted her nap that afternoon, was captivated by the string of lights and actually threw a small tantrum when I took them away from her! (A foreshadowing of her toddler future?) I think she could have sat all day surrounded by the tangled green wires and blinking lights. Charlton set up our small tree and one of our kid-friendly nativity sets in Rylan's room. The best part of that was that Caroline couldn't reach the top shelf of the bookcase, so he could play to his heart's content.

At one point, Rylan and I had a conversation about Santa Claus visiting on Christmas Eve. "He will come at night to fill your stocking and leave presents, and all kids must be sound asleep in their beds. He came last year and left your train set." Rylan thought seriously for a moment, then wailed, "But, I don't remember him!" It is so much fun to see Christmas through the delighted eyes of a child. Rylan's excitement and even Caroline's interest make me enjoy Christmas all the more.

Here are a few more reasons I am especially looking forward to this Christmas season:

1. Last Christmas was mostly a blur of exhaustion and tears. I was sleep-deprived from caring for a newborn Caroline, exasperated from dealing with her maladjusting brother, and grieving for Grace, our dog, whom we just discovered was dying from cancer. There were some bright spots, but it wasn't our merriest Christmas.

2. This fall I started reading a wonderful series of historical books on the life of Jesus. ( The A.D. Chronicles by Brock and Bodie Thoene). Books 4-6 cover the time period and events around Jesus' birth. At first I was bummed that I ended up reading the Christmas story in October, but it turned out to be a great way to start preparing my heart early for the true meaning of this season. I can't say enough wonderful things about this series. It is well-researched and although some characters and events are created by the author's imagination, it follows scripture very closely. I don't think any literature about the Bible should replace The Book itself, but even Jesus told stories to illustrate His truth. I have heard the Christmas story since I was a very young girl, but reading about the characters in the context of their culture, politics, and faith, and learning more about the prophesies of Messiah's birth made it come alive in a whole new way. I fell more in love with Jesus and actually want to spend more time reading my Bible.

3. Rylan is three now and has a better "clue" about what all the Christmas fuss is about. And according to my counselor husband, kids can start to form memories at this age. It's more motivating when you realize your kids might actually remember the results of all your effort and hard work. It may still be lost in the mush of Caroline's baby brain, but we can take pictures for her, and wrapping paper is always fun, no matter what the season.

4. At MOPS a few weeks ago, we had a great speaker talking about making family holiday traditions. It was somewhat overwhelming to hear ALL her family traditions, but I was feeling especially energetic and inspired that meeting. I stole some great ideas and can't wait to start them with our family. I'll share more on these later..

5. Baking cookies, cookies, and more delicious cookies that I only make this time of the year.

6. We live in a state with the possibility of a white Christmas. Even if we don't actually get snow on Christmas, it should definitely be cold enough for hot chocolate.

I will leave you with some pictures of our decorating. I could not distract Caroline away from the lights long enough to look at the camera.

Our beautiful mantle in its full glory at Christmas time. Thanks again, Dad and Mom!

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