We could hardly contain our joy to be with cousins we had missed:
(My sister Saren lives in Utah, my brother Josh was there from the desert and my other brother Noah was there with his family from California.)
And to be with parents who we got to share in our time-tested sacred family tradition of our own “Jerusalem Supper” so beautifully put on by my mother.
Everyone gets in costume and plays the part of Mary and Joseph and their families the night before they leave for Bethlehem.
The food is strictly what they probably would have had back then: fish, unleavened bread, olives, figs, etc. It is beautiful and spirit-filled but somehow this tradition hasn’t been transferred to Dave and my little family…it got lost in the mixing and melding of traditions handed down as we made up our own.
So it felt extra enriching to get to do it again.
My Dad never misses a teaching-moment opportunity. This one is while everyone was donning their Jerusalem costumes:
(Elle’s face up there above pretty much sums up how we all felt. And still feel!)
Mary and Joseph:
Once everyone is ready and the candles are lit, the lights go out and we get into character.
I love this tradition.
From the Jerusalem Supper we headed straight into the Nativity (with a quick switch of who got to play Mary):
After that my mom showed the fascinated grandkids all the symbolism of a sand dollar.
After all these years, and sand dollars hanging on our Christmas tree every one of them, I never knew half of that stuff.
My brother found and read this poem for us after my Mom explained all the symbols:
The legend of the Sand dollar
That I would like to tell
Of the birth and death of Jesus Christ
Found in this lowly shell.
If you will examine closely,
You’ll see that you find here
Four nail holes and a fifth one
Made by a Roman’s spear.
On one side the Easter Lily,
It’s center is the star
That appeared unto the shepherds
And led them from afar.
The Christmas Poinsettia
Etched on the other side
Reminds us of His birthday,
Our joyous Christmas tide.
Now break the center open
And here you will release
The five white doves awaiting
To spread good will and peace.
This simple little symbol,
Christ left for you and me.
To help to spread His Message
Through all eternity.
A pretty amazing piece of nature I must say. My mom had the kids break some open so they could see the “doves” inside. Not a very good picture but this was one of Lucys:
Just seeing all those children of mine wrapped up in the loving arms of cousins and grandparents gives me chills. I’ve always appreciated these people I get to be related to, but never more than now, after being so far away. Absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder.
With that, everyone else aside from my parents and brother headed out and we hunkered down for our own tradition of the kids’ Christmas Eve gift-giving (my favorite part of Christmas every year):
We rotate who gives to who each year…Lucy had Claire which was quite fitting since she’s so in love with that sister of hers.
Dave read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” (his family tradition growing up that we have adopted).
…and we got Christmas jammies:
(A little mis-matched since one of our packages I had ordered from China didn’t show up, but still worked just all hunky-dorey.)
Then we tucked those jet-lagged, adrenaline-pumped, pure delight-filled children of ours in bed.
This is the note Lucy came up with out of the blue and left for Santa that night:
Not sure who had been filling her with such fear that he may forget her, but her note was pretty convincing to a mother’s heart that she sure was sorry for any non-obedient crying crimes she has committed 🙂
Glad it worked for Santa too.
So happy for your safe return. I am amazed at your courage to do hard things. So very inspiring. Thank you for sharing.
Loved following your adventure this past fall. I must know where to get one of the Freedom hats Dave is wearing. Please do tell!
So much love and happiness expressed in these photos…happy you all are safe and sound back home.
You had ice cubes with your "strictly what they probably would have had back then" – Supper? That's to funny 😀
Also the pics look like a wonderful, heart-warming Christmas.
Never knew this about the sand dollar! Wow! So cool! Love the dinner tradition too! You have such an awesome familly.
Spectacular pictures! Thanks so much for your incredible camera and "stellar eye"! I took about three pictures that night. We will treasure these forever as it is probably a once-in-a lifetime experience. Those kids will never be that age again! Loved those huge hugs for the cute kids' gifts to each other! And the adoration of that baby will never be forgotten!
No ice cubes next year 🙂 I finally found a honeycomb and then put ice in the glasses. Sheesh! Thanks for heads us Unknown!
oops, "Thanks for the heads up"
Did you know you can sing "Twas the Night Before Christmas" perfectly to the tune of "As Sisters in Zion"? My husband anf I figured it out this year.
I know this is off topic, but where is Elle's buffalo check/gingham shirt from? I love it!
I never heard about the symbolism of the sand dollar, as it relates to Christ. Nice poem as well. Thanks for sharing.
Such a beautiful Christmas around a beautiful tree and family. Thanks for sharing it!