Monday, December 26, 2011

The Spirit of Christmas

Christmas this year has been a bit harder on me than in the past, I just couldn't get into the spirit, nearly until Christmas Eve.

We have been trying to catch up on missed tithing, paying off a credit card and keeping up with bills, all on my income and whatever Anthony can bring home.  When Anthony was given the opportunity to take over a friend's business of selling magic items online a couple of months ago, it turned out the business was woefully out of date and was operating at a loss.  After two months of trying to update it and get it working again, the losses were too much and the foreseeable future was not looking any better, so he gave the business back.  Now how do you prepare for Christmas with that kind of financial hardship hanging over your head?

So it was about a week and a half to Christmas and I hadn't bought a thing, when I got a Christmas bonus from work.  Then a kind, generous soul sent me an anonymous card with $100 cash.  The Lord must have inspired them that we were in need, Anthony said it was a blessing for paying the tithing.  Then Anthony got quite a few Santa gigs for some more kind people who gave generous tips on top of Anthony's fee.  Those blessings allowed me to catch up a couple of bills, pay our tithing in full and still get something for Christmas for my family.  Luckily my family is used to non-extravagant Christmases, so they were all happy.

I finally caught the Christmas spirit as I prepared for my family Christmas Eve party, which I hosted this year.  We were able to book the use of our church building and we (my kids, my sister and I) got there early to decorate.  It was fun getting out the decorations and all my holiday bears and some of my Christmas toys.  We dragged couches and comfy chairs from the foyers to make the rooms more cozy, set up a Christmas tree and set up the tables and chairs for lunch.

It was so nice to have everyone there this year!  We had a lovely lunch, then had our traditional talent show with cute nieces and nephews singing songs they had learned - very cute; then some of the more grown up kids sang - such talent.  I'm so grateful they are willing to share.

We had a gift exchange and a piƱata, but the best part was our live nativity with the little kids dressing up and acting out the story as we read the scriptures and sang the hymns that went with them.  It truly brought the Christmas spirit into my heart!  No more worrying about spending money for gifts, or organizing everying for the party or the pressure of the holidays - just the pure spirit of celebrating the birth of our Savior with the love of my family surrounding me.  It was just what I needed to help me truly feel the spirit and joy of Christmas!

I was determined to take better pictures this year, I think these are pretty good!  From youngest sister and family to oldest - here's our family:

 Jen, Karen, Michael, Neils
 Zach, Cindy, Hayden, Jeff, Josh
 Pam, Quinn, Troy (top row), Haylee, Heather, Wesley, Amanda (bottom row)
 Isaac, Richard, Rose (top row), Mikaela, Callista (bottom row)
Jessica, Kathleen (me) (top row), Jeremy, Santa (Anthony), Melissa (bottom row)
Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

This year we celebrated Thanksgiving with my side of the family.  Pam offered to be our host this year, so we all went to her house (unfortunately minus Cindy's family) and shared a wonderful dinner together.  We had a nice visit, and had a great time playing games after dinner.  Jessica brought Nate and stayed for dinner, but left shortly after that to attend 3 more dinners.

The teen table

Cute turkey favors Pam and her girls made

I am very thankful for family!  I am thankful for holidays that give us the opportunity to spend time together.  I am thankful for the gospel and priesthood blessings and for prayer and for the knowledge that families can be together forever.