There was one Christmas I remember way back when Max and Elle were babies. It was the Christmas when I decided to make a photo quilt for my parents. Yes, a photo quilt, which sounds kind of funny, but that’s not the point. The point is that it was a difficult task but as I was making it I was filled with so much love for those parents of mine. I was so excited about giving them that thing from my heart I could hardly stand waiting for them to unwrap it. Oh it was the best to watch their happiness as they unfolded that beauty and oooohd and ahhhhd over it. Yes they loved it. But boy, I know the most happy person in that situation was me. Giving can be such a beautifully glorious thing.

It is sometimes so easy to get so caught up with the “getting-things-done” this time of year that it has the potential to take the joy out of giving, are you with me?

But this year for Dave’s birthday we added in some of that joy because we decided to give him gifts from our hearts. Leading up to the big day Dave proclaimed that all he wanted was for Lucy to learn to tie her shoes. And really, he wasn’t just saying that. It’s something he’s wanted for a long time and none of us have stopped long enough to concentrate on. It’s really tricky for her to do things like that with finger dexterity (although I think her room filled up with Legos helps…ha!) But really, we live in a world where tying your own shoe laces isn’t actually a necessity, and it takes time and patience for this girl (just like learning to ride a bike did…just a little trickier for Lu), so we let it go. And go. And go.

So we started working on tying those shoelaces in secret (we had to start with some of Grace’s old shoes with long enough shoe laces that contrasted enough with the shoe…things you don’t really think about regularly when you learn to tie shoes):

…and the rest of us decided we’d all work hard on something that was really difficult for us during the two weeks leading up to his birthday. Working hard on things is what Dave loves the very most. I loved that process. Grace decided she wanted to run a mile every day, Max decided to not eat any sugar, Elle trained hard for her marathon, Abby went off social media, Claire worked really hard on setting aside time to read her scriptures each day, and I managed my time better than I have in years for those two weeks so that I could wrap up all my “to dos” with the kids and the house and this blog and emails, etc. to be done early enough to just hang with Dave every night (time is his love language). I know other people may be all talented at that, but I’m not so hot, especially with the holidays when I let a million little things pull me in different directions.

It was a really good couple weeks. Some of that same beauty I felt all those years ago when I handed over that photo quilt to my parents seeped into our house.

When the big day came it wasn’t all bliss and beauty. It was the day after the turkey trot and Thanksgiving after all, we had six cousins sleeping over at our house, and I was so tired I could hardly see straight (Dave I’m sure even more-so). We had some morning complications with some house projects gone wrong and we never even opened presents (too much family in town coming and going to be able to concentrate on that), but we had so much fun with Dave’s family that evening, got to see a movie (Jo Jo Rabbit, would recommend that one!) and have our favorite take-out here with all of Dave’s family who could make it. We didn’t get around to our traditional birthday picture until after midnight:

Claire did manage to make the traditional “candy bar poster” without the candy bars with the cousins the night before:


Here was a little part of the birthday celebration crowd right after the movie…before a bunch of others showed up:

And a visit from our best neighbors ever:

We finally opened gifts on Sunday after church when all was calmed down.

And Dave was pretty dang excited about this:

And the cards outlining all the other stuff everyone did:

Reminded me the beauty of the gift of giving.

And also the beauty of that guy I get to call my husband and what a great receiver he is. That is a talent, you know?

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