We've had a marvelous Christmas/birthdays/New Year's week. We had our first Christmas with "just us." While it was very different and a little sad to not be surrounded by moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandmas, grandpas, and cousins, it was also nice to be home and show the kids that tradition isn't just something that we do with our "big" family, but that is important when it's "just us," too.
After Christmas Eve service at church, I put together the last few things for the traditional "Mack family" Christmas Eve supper. The kids put on their pj's and then we did the candles- another Christmas Eve tradition from Macks's side of the family- where one by one we each light a candle and share what the Lord has done for us, in us, and through us during the past year, things we are thankful for, favorite memories from the year, etc. Then Mack read the Christmas story out of Luke, and then "The Night Before Christmas," which is something I remember quite vividly from my childhood- my parents reading us Christmas stories, both true and fantastical on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. We put out cookies for Santa and carrots for his reindeer and the kids went off to dream of sugarplums.
Christmas morning, the kids opened presents and we had the traditional "Wife's family" breakfast. Then we surprised them with a new kitten, whom they named Jingles. He's pretty cute and they are enjoying him immensely. All of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day I thought to myself, "It really doesn't get any better than this." I am building a life with a wonderful man whom I love so deeply, and we have four beautiful, smart, happy, and some-what well-behaved children. I have a personal relationship with the God who holds all things in the palm of His hand, and have peace and rest in His goodness and sovereignty. In a turbulent world and troublesome economy, He has seen fit to bless us with a stable job, nice home, and everything we need.
Macks's mom and dad, brother (Uncle M), sister-in-law (Aunt J), and niece (yet to be blog-named- I'll have to work on that one) arrived on the 27th and we celebrated Apple's 6th birthday. We then celebrated Mack's 30th on the 28th and Unlce M and Aunt J (unfortunately) had to return home that day- we wished they could've stayed longer! Mom and Dad, however, got to stay with us a few extra days and just left this morning. The kids always love having Grandma and Grandpa here to play, and Mack and I always love having them too! All in all, we've had a pretty wonderful last week of 2008, which is fitting, because it's been a very good year- full of trials from which we have grown in faith, full of blessings in which we have rejoiced, full of reminders of God's faithfulness and goodness.