Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Christmas: Memories Old & New and an Answer to Prayer.

I love the smell of fresh pine. I love the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping. I love Christmas lights. I love the opportunity to focus more on Christ and remember His birth. I love listening to good Christmas music. I love giving really fun gifts to people I love. Christmastime brings all these things as well as wonderful memories.

Most Christmases as a child, I spent the first part of the vacation with my mom, my brother, and my grandparents. Christmas Eve meant Aunt Edie's corn chowder and new pajamas. I slept in the northernmost bed in the blue bedroom with my brother in the twin next to me. There were years I could hardly go to sleep that night because I was so excited. Santa would always leave our stockings at the foot of our bed, so waking up several times in the middle of the night, straining in the dark to see the foot of my bed was not uncommon. We were allowed to open everything in our stockings any time after 6am, usually, but we had to wait until everyone was ready to open all the gifts. Oh the torture! As I got older, I didn't mind waiting. None of this I-just-woke-up-look in pictures anymore. Most years, my aunt, uncle, and cousins would arrive the day after Christmas and we'd do it all over again.

The second part of Christmas vacation was generally spent with my dad, my stepmom, my brother, and my sister. We'd spend the afternoon at Auntie Vicki's house waiting what seemed like a century to a little kid for dinner to be served. Playing pool, smiling when Nono went on his rantings and ravings about how I should eat more peaches. Eating Noni's delicious risotto. Meeting cousin John's new girlfriend, just about every year. Going to the movies. And more relaxing.

This year was a little different.

Katie and I braved the snow and bought a fresh Christmas tree. Katie not only braved the snow, but she braved being seen with me in one of my wacky moods.

Then we decorated.

Christmas Eve was spent with M's family. We had a great dinner followed up by singing of Christmas carols around the piano. In keeping with Dutch tradition, they open all their gifts from each other after dinner that night. So M and I exchanged ours as well.

M and I had been giving each other hints about our gifts for each other and allowing one other to ask one question per week for the preceding five or six weeks. Neither one of us had any real clue as to what we were getting. M got me an FM Transmitter. It's actually quite cool. It transmits from any audio source to an FM radio station up to 150 feet in all directions. This means I can listen to my iPod in the car. I can listen to the TV in "surround sound" if I have a couple of radios nearby. I can broadcast what's on my computer to the stereo in the kitchen. It's great!

I got M the moon. :) Truly. Well, it's a Moon in My Room, a detailed light-up moon that shines like the real thing. Using the remote control, you can select any of 12 different phase settings. I think it's very cool.

Christmas morning began very early. Katie, her brother Andy, our friend Jovanni, and I went to the Christian Life Center and helped set up for the Christmas meal. Hundreds of homeless and struggling individuals and families were expected to arrive by bus to eat that day. I was happy to be able to help out.

Later that evening, M and I drove down with another friend, Sara, to my mom's for Christmas dinner. Dinner with my mom, Stephen, Agnė, M, and Sara was very nice. We exchanged gifts, ate a delicious cherry dessert (my grandma's recipe), and played Bananagrams, one of my favorite word games. Agnė got it for Christmas from my mom. And don't think that just because she's not a native English speaker that she won't give you a run for your money!

On our way home, snow was coming down pretty heavily. Luckily, M is a rockstar! He managed to get us all home safely, along with help from "God's holy angels" in the form of four massive snow plows ahead of us. We had all knelt in prayer before we headed out, to wrap up our wonderful Christmas and prepare for our drive home. Stephen offered a beautiful prayer, in which he requested the blessing of safety for us as we returned home. As he made the request, he asked Heavenly Father that "even thy (God's) holy angels would accompany them (us)" as we drove through the storm. About fifteen minutes into our journey, we were in whiteout conditions for ten minutes or so when all of a sudden, four ginormous snow plows entered the freeway just ahead of us. They began to work forming a barrier ahead, plowing the snow out of our path. We traveled along behind them for about 45 seconds, when M turned to me and smiled, saying, "Do you want to call your mom and tell her that 'God's holy angels' are accompanying us home in the form of four snow plow drivers?"

A blatant, yet beautiful answer to prayer was Heavenly Father's gift to us on Christmas Day. How very fitting!


Anonymous said...

A very good post. Nice memories of Christmas past and Christmas present.


That one guy... said...

I love the forms that "God's Holy Angels" can take. Very nicely done.

Brooke said...

I love that you guys went and helped the homeless on Christmas. I love your prayer story too. I love when prayers are answered :)

Mrs. Cheeseball said...

A lot of my friends/family wrote about how wonderful it was to have their kids there and opening toys toys.... That's nice. But, geez...your post just seems more fitting. Thanks!

Sherine said...

I"m just getting caught up here... I loved the story:)