I just sent my children off, one by one, back to school.
All of our eyes were exceptionally blurry this morning as we realized once again how dark 6:25 looks, and it all started up again:
Scriptures, breakfast, hair manipulation, mood manipulation too.
And now the house is quiet.  Not a peep except for the heat coming to life and the whirring of the refrigerator.
I finally have a moment to reflect on these last two golden weeks.  Filled with family and friends, with Christ and Christmas smack-dab in the center.  They were good ones, crammed with endless card games, plays, whirlwind-try-to-pull-gifts-together stress and many late-teenager-filled-kitchen nights mixed with the regular whining and fights and tempers that balance everything out.
So let’s start at Christmas Eve to remember all these golden strands.
Christmas Eve is always my favorite.  
Because that’s when the kids give each other their gifts.
And that never fails to rope in the Christmas magic.

But first let’s talk about Christmas Eve morning.  
We had the opportunity this year to go to one of the largest homeless shelters in the city and serve lunch there.
I just have a couple pictures from in there, but they remind me how hard these kids worked:
…and how it felt to watch my children, a little apprehensive, making new friends.

…and the smiles that resulted from that contact, both on their own faces and on their new friends too.

We spent the whole morning into afternoon there.  We learned so much about how that place works, so many stories of how people ended up there, so much light in some of their eyes and so much sorrow in others.  Lots of thoughts churning about how to reach out more.  Looking forward to going back some time soon.

We got to go home in time to contribute to this pretty awesome service project someone right in our neighborhood was setting up for someone else in our neighborhood in need.

Every time we drove in and out of our neighborhood I got overwhelmed with the beauty surrounding us on all sides (still do).

It was rainy which made the colors come out even more.

God is an incredible artist.

Christmas Eve was the day when Lucy got a letter back in the mail from Santa.

She had mailed hers (the one I posted back HERE that I love) and it got taken before I could sneak it back (so sad, but at least I got that picture…), and that Santa must have received it because voila, there was a sweet letter back complete with a candy cane attached.  How great is that?  Lucy’s face will tell you 🙂

She and Claire also got a squigly letter one that must have been sent another day…needless to say, that girl was pretty excited Santa didn’t forget her.

Having my parents here was great because we got to hear from all my siblings as they FaceTimed here and there.

Then it was time to get ready for the traditional Jerusalem Supper.

After the table and food were all prepped we had a little piano concert.

(The big girls had missed their recital while we were in Boston and we figured this would be a close second:)

Clearly the audience was quite mesmerized:


But Lu was pretty excited to pound out Jolly Old Saint Nicholas as many times as we’d let her this season and I loved that!

 We even mixed in some duets.

Even Elle dusted off her good old piano skills and proved that they still existed 🙂

By the time we were done, my special bread was baked (bread that I’ve baked countless times since I learned how to make it in Boston and that I’ll share the recipe for soon…)

And we got in Jerusalem Supper character.

(Each person takes on a role of someone who might have been in Mary or Joseph’s families sending them off to Bethlehem.)

Each person had part of the nativity to talk about for a moment before they put them back in their stable (an idea Claire came up with last year):

And then it was time for the donkey to take Mary off on her journey to Bethlehem with Joseph leading the way (Mary from the supper switched to the angel role so another Mary could take the reigns for the nativity):

With Max gone this year and Dave’s separated shoulder we had a female donkey….

 She was a good one if I do say so myself:)

My brother Josh read Luke 2 while everyone pondered on that story.

We had an especially exuberant angel this year:

…and also a pretty great wise man/shepherd:

…and also an interesting visitor back in the background cracking us up getting his exercise in for the day.

Lucy’s American Girl doll made for quite a beautiful baby Jesus.

Then it was time for the grand children-gift-exchange.

Claire started it all off by giving us each the sweetest notes she had taken quite a bit of time writing.

Here’s mine for an example:

 hmmm…better work on that green in my teeth…

Seriously how sweet is that?

Then we got to the other gifts that the girls had wrapped carefully for each other.

 …some complete with a little treat:)

Years ago we used to head to the dollar store before Christmas and each child would use their hard-earned dollars to pick out something for each sibling, but a few years ago we switched to a gift rotation.  Last year everyone gave to their next younger sibling, and this year they went down two younger.  Which meant, with Max gone, that Grace and Lucy gave to each other and Claire and Elle did too.

The hugs are my favorite part.

 They picked out some pretty great stuff for each other.

On to the traditional Christmas pj’s:

…and Dave’s reading of “T’was the Night Before Christmas:”

…and off to bed.

Not without a few bedtime hugs:

I love the electric excitement mixed in with the thick love in the air on Christmas Eve.

Oh man, how is this all already over??


  1. Reading this and seeing the pictures I could almost "feel" the feeling in your home, that's how it was for us growing up. What an exciting time.

  2. We have adopted the "Jerusalem dinner" for Christmas Eve. Such a great way to spend the evening!! I'm looking forward to the bread recipe! (We've been getting naan at trade joes. Ha!)

    1. I just opted for leggings for the older girls this year since they don't seem to care much about pj's and they need leggings. I got Lucy and Claire's pj pants at Gap. And all the t-shirts are from Freedom, which is a board shop my husband works with. I'm glad you like the blog 🙂

  3. Every single time I read your blog, I am so overwhelmed by how much love is portrayed! Your family is truly inspiring and I love how much you each cherish one another! So grateful for your strong examples! <3

  4. Hi,
    Your Christmas Eve posts are always my favourite part of your Christmas posts.

    I really love how your excited your children get about buying & giving pressies to each other. I always love the look of love & joy on their faces.

    Even tho I'm in the UK I think of your family every Christmas Eve & about them giving out their pressies.x By the way, your girls each gave to their double this year – Elle & Claire & Grace & Lucy. They are all looking so much like each other.

    I also love how you do the nativity & have a special meal.

    Claire was so brave to balance on the edge of the settee (sofa) like that.:)

    I know it's a bit late, but Happy New Year to you & your lovely family & Thank You for a brill blog.x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *