It's two days after Christmas and I'm forcing myself to take a break from my annual after Christmas de-cluttering spree for fear that I will soon forget the greatness of our Christmas weekend. My whole life, and especially since becoming a parent, I have wished for a pause button. I was blessed (or cursed, depending how you look at it) with the aching need to reflect on every moment, good or bad, in this life, which sometimes leaves me filled with worry that I may forget feelings, moments, and stages that have been so important, so memorable to me. And because of this curse, it would be so nice to have a pause button---the ability to push a button, copy a moment, and store it on a special hard-drive that lasts forever. I guess my quest explains why my current computer hard-drive is full of thousands of pictures, and this blog full of hundreds of postings. Hopefully my computer hard-drive can someday help me remember things my internal 'hard-drive' may forget.
I found myself wanting to pause so many moments this weekend. God granted me peace amidst the chaos that sometimes impends around Christmas, and there were numerous times when I was actually called to stop and soak it all in. There was the moment in Cruz's room right after church, just me putting his shoes away. His room looked so cozy with his little popcorn-stringed tree, and I felt so happy in this place. And there was the moment at candlelight service, where the sea of candles lit up the faces of young and old, including my husband and our son. Beau's chin rested on the top of Cruz's head, while Cruz's big brown eyes stared curiously into the flame. Silent Night filled the air in our beautiful church, and my heart was filled with thanksgiving for that baby, that manger, and that promise we were given that night.
But if I had to narrow it down, had to choose my TOP TEN Christmas Moments to Pause of 2011, the list is as follows...
1. Cruz going for a swim on my parents' kitchen floor. We had literally been at my parents' house for 20 minutes on Friday before Cruz emptied Lt. Dan's (their cat's) water
2. Cruz and Charly by the Christmas tree. Rarely can we get them to sit or smile for a picture together, but thanks to Uncle Taylor's 'monkey' impression, both were frozen in smiles! There they sat by the Christmas tree, smiling and saying 'CHEESE,' until Charly declared, 'Done!' plain as day, and ran from the scene! The two of them sure made Christmas at Mom and Dad's fun this year.
3. Taking pictures outside before Orchard's Christmas Eve service. It was one of the warmest Christmases in memory. I didn't even wear a coat to church. And although for a split second I did long for that storybook snow falling from the sky as we piled into our cars after church, I could get used to 50 degree Christmas Eves!
4. My handsome little boy in his Christmas outfit. Oh man did he look cute. I was worried about how he'd do with a tie, but I think he knew he looked good. As soon as I changed his clothes, he pranced around the house and smiled proudly when I told him how handsome he looked. I love how his chest even sticks out a bit in the picture ;)
5. Orchard had one of the prettiest Christmas Eve services I've ever attended. The staff begins preparations for the service months in advance, and what you get is an experience that has the potential to be a life-changer. I'm not sure if it was the band playing Christmas carols from the awning of the front doors when we walked in, or the way one of the praise singers shook the place with an a Capella version of 'O Come All Ye Faithful,' but I found myself either full of goosebumps or choked up with tears the entire time. Mom and Dad decided to join us this year, which made it even more special, especially as we all took turns snuggling with Cruz in the seats. I hope I never forget how happy I felt during this service, and how close that birth story seemed to be.
6. The simplicity of the birth story. The older I get, the more I understand the context of the stories I've heard since I was a little girl at Sunday School. This year, I understood the birth story in a whole new way. Not the nativity story that seems so fairytale-like, so distant from our lives and world today, but something much closer, much more realistic. Like the fact that Mary and Joseph were going through many of the same emotions any new parents feel as they bring their first child into the world. Or the fact that the shepherds were really just a group of young guys trying to earn a living, and sought after this new baby Jesus out of nothing but curiosity. And when they found just what they had been told, I'm sure it changed their lives forever...just as it still changes us today.
7. The peace that fills our house on Christmas Eve. Deciding to forgo our five-course meal proved to be the right move on our part. We got home, turned on some Christmas music, clasped bowls of Christmas chili, and lit our Christmas fire. For all I was concerned, our little house could have existed within a snow globe.
After stockings and the first round of presents, Cruz went to bed and I stayed up late, making sure everything was just right for Christmas morning. Nevermind that Cruz has no idea who Santa is or what kind of cookies he likes best, I was practicing this year.
Santa came (after Round 1 was cleaned up ;)...
A tuckered out little boy...
Reminds me of a picture from last year...
8. Presents. I'd say we all made out pretty good this year. I'll write about some of our favorites in another post, but we all got a lot of fun, unique things that fit each of our personalities. Like a new sled, (followed by multiple sled rides down our very short hallway), a drum set, and his very first remote control car for Cruz, some new perfume and photography books for me, and, well, Beau's deserves a ranking of its own.
9. The Big Green Egg. A smoker, a grill, and an oven all-in-one, and a gift that made my husband one of the happiest men on the planet. Since Santa wasn't able to deliver Beau's Egg until the day after Christmas, I needed a clever way to surprise Beau. So, under the tree he unwrapped four separate gifts: 1) three, construction paper letters spelling the word, 'BIG,' 2) a very green finger-painted work of art by our budding artist, 3) one hard boiled egg, and 4) the official Big Green Egg cookbook. Beau, of course, figured it out after the very first gift, yet his expression and surprise made it all worth it. He was so excited, and so far, the ham and steaks have tasted amazing ;)
10. Cruz performing at Grandpa Ray and Grandma Mary's house. Munching on chex mix and watching Gabe’s new iPad with Gina, over-enunciating and whispering his newest word - ‘HOT’ during dinner, standing on a box and waving to the crowd of six during present opening.
Be Merry! Lots more to come!