It's hard to fully comprehend what that first Christmas must have been like for Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. I can imagine his birthdays that followed over the years weren't anything like the celebrations we do for our kids.
Nowadays Jesus' birthday is somewhat lost in the Christmas rush and buried under the huge pile of discarded wrapping paper. We desire for our boys to never loose focus of the sacrifice that Christmas really is in Jesus becoming flesh and then dying for our sins.
So on Christmas Eve, together with our friends, we celebrated with a birthday party for Jesus. We acknowledged His arrival as an infant boy and becoming Emmanuel. No amount of presents, stocking stuffers, or candy canes can hide that indescribable gift and we are so blessed to see our sons joyfully celebrating that gift too!
Our church had a definite first for us. This past Sunday was pajama day for all the kids. After convincing him we were not crazy for letting him in public in pj's, Harrison was all for it!
He chose his all time favorite guitar pj's. He knows which are the electric, acoustic, and bass on the print on his pj's. He could hardly believe we were actually letting him do this and kept saying, "People will think I am silly and laugh! I like to be funny!"
Harrison and his best friend Jaden had a good laugh with each other over wearing pj's at church. To top of the footie jammie fun-ness, Harrison has also been in a video our church did interviewing kids questions about Christmas.
Harrison thought it was pretty cool to see himself up on the big screen. He started pointing saying "That's Harrison up there!" The first question he was asked was, "What is your favorite part about Christmas?" After a long "Ummmmm..." he finally said, "I don't know."
Then they asked, "What do you want for Christmas?" His answer? "I want a Jeep! A big one, not a little one...a real one!" I figure I still have over 24 hours to change his mind because there are definitely no real Jeeps under the tree. I also need to try to explain why we won't be wearing pj's to Christmas Eve service tomorrow!
It's important to us that we as a family try to focus on others and look for ways to minister to anyone we may meet during the day, especially during the Christmas season.
This is one reason we wanted to take the boys to give Christmas cookies to our local firemen. Together with some close friends the boys worked hard to decorate cookies and then deliver them at the station.
They were rewarded with heartfelt "thank you's" and a tour of the trucks! The boys could not have been happier! The fireman asked Harrison if he wanted to drive the truck to which he promptly responded "Yes!"
Once placed behind the wheel Harrison turned to the fireman and said, "It's not driving!" After a good laugh he explained he needed to get bigger and then if he wanted to, he could become a fireman. "I do want to be a fireman when I get bigger!" exclaimed Harrison.
At the end of our visit Harrison had a hard time leaving. He wanted to stay with the firemen and eat the cookies with them and "watch the trucks all night!" I think the firemen really enjoyed our visit and I think we may have found a new tradition.
There's a new boy in our house. His name is Jake. Jake and Harrison are inseparable. Jake eats meals with us, watches movies with us, plays cars, and puzzles, fights bad guys, and reads books. Jake has a boat and a sword and knows how to skateboard.
Jake rides in the back seat of our SUV, he doesn't like to be cold, he hates having messy hands, but loves to play in the dirt. Jake has 2 guitars, one electric, one acoustic. He has a blue helmet, a bike, and plays baseball and football. Jake drives a fast red car.
Jake loves cookies and pb&j. Jake wears big boy boxers, can climb really high, and needs his own water bottle. Jake can sing and likes to help Harrison pack Daddy's lunch. He apparently sleeps in our attic and needs some Christmas presents. I have never seen Jake, but he is quite the imaginary friend.
While I was ready to call the national guard, or at least the pediatrician, Matt assures me it is perfectly normal, especially for boys, to have imaginary friends they admire and look up to. So I guess Jake will hang around for the time being. I know one day Harrison's vivid imagination will be desensitized by bill payments, deadlines, disappointments, and reality. As long as he wants to imagine a hero at his side to fight the bad guys, it's fine with me.
Santa really isn't a big deal at our house. We haven't really talked about him, and Harrison hasn't really asked, but we found out he was making an appearance at our library's story time.
Harrison knows Santa is pretend and Harrison thinks all the coolest pretend guys have guns. So of course he asked if Santa had a gun. Though disappointed to find out Santa does not have a concealed weapons permit, he went along to meet the jolly guy in red.
Harrison couldn't wait his turn to talk to Santa and tried to get as close as possible while Santa talked with the other children. This may have had something do to with the fact that Santa was handing out candy and presents. Then finally it was Harrison's turn.
Santa asked if he wanted to sit on his lap and Harrison asked, "Why?" He just kinda stood there looking around, wondering how long he has to chat it up with the bearded guy until he got his candy. Satisfied with his sugar fix, Harrison was off and hasn't talked about him since. So I guess Santa still is not a big deal at our house.
Here we are, a week before Christmas, and it was almost 70 degrees. Please explain to me how you are supposed to be in a hot kitchen baking sugar cookies with a day like that right out your door.
So out we went. Now, this may seem a tad irresponsible since the boys had runny noses and coughs, but who doesn't this time of year. And really, I was only looking out for their well being since they would get plenty of Vitamin D.
Let me tell you, growing up in a region where Christmastime is cold, this weather definitely messed with the senses. Seeing garland and tinsel while wiping sweat from your brow was feeling contradictory.
While personally I would not mind at all to spend Christmas laid out on a beach soaking up the sun, there is also just something about being wrapped in sweaters, sipping hot chocolate, and seeing lights against frosted window panes.
So for memories sake, maybe our week before Christmas trip to the zoo will look colder in black and white and therefore make it seem more Christmasy when we look back? Who knows, but secretly I'm loving the warm days, and I'm pretty sure the boys did too!
Don't judge; there are quite a few imperfections and potential "You let your child do what?" moments in this post, but this is real life, and some days are like this...
Like, some days you actually do the things you've pinned on Pinterest. Like our felt Christmas tree. Because some days, Harrison has this thing for rearranging the ornaments on our big one, so this one is all his.
And some days, I let Harrison help me with projects and he can be found handling sharp pointed objects like scissors and pins. I can assure you he is under constant supervision and he does very well.
And some days my cutting skills take longer than I plan because I don't just possess that craftiness flair for snipping and sewing. So the morning flies by and we are still in our pajamas. Yep, some days that happens around here.
And some days the kitchen sink is full of dirty dishes and the laundry begs to be switched, but I'm busy with my boys cutting felt stars and bells.
And some days, are the best days like that. Because some day, these days will be a memory and my little men will have kids of their own. So for today, it was a perfectly imperfect day.
This year I am far from organized, pre-planned, and prepared. I haven't finished gift shopping, not one present is wrapped, and our stockings still have not been hung. So needless to say, Christmas cards have not been prioritized.
I feel this is a very un-Christmas thing to do, like only the Grinch doesn't send out Christmas cards right? Then I am reminded by other busy friends that it's ok if the cards don't go out on time or if at all.
I guess considering how our attempt at a festive picture went it was all meant to not be. A kind lady at our church assured me she was familiar with my camera model and went adjusting the manual settings.
Then there was the fact that Jefferson decided to have a meltdown. No, not your typical fussy, I'm tired cry, but a full out nuclear reactor meltdown. With half the church gathered in the foyer enjoying the free entertainment, we smiled as camera lady snapped away.
With Jefferson's sobs and slobber buried in my hair we finally got a shot that looked somewhat merry. Not quite what I had in mind. We will attempt a redo, but please don't be surprised if you don't find a card from the Clark's in your mailbox this year. We do wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a blessed New Year, peace and joy to you and yours, and all the other catchy little phrases on those neat photo cards. It's just, you actually need some neat pictures to go on those. So here is hoping to next year and many good family poses to come.
The crowd was about the same as Times Square on New year's Eve. The noise was enough to drown out Jefferson's cry. And the rush of people was enough for us to form a human chain to forge through.
But the Christmas trees were taller than houses, the lights equaled the stars, and the excitement of Christmas coming was more contagious than I've ever seen and we were all lost in the magic.
Six hundred plus miles separate us from the Christmas traditions and memories we've made our entire lives. So Matt and I wanted to try to find something to fill void and create some new memories with our boys.
We spent the evening gazing at thousands of lights raining down from the glass ceiling of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. It was hard to watch where you were going as you tried to take it all in.
The boys stared in wonder and I can't count how many times Harrison would giddily exclaim, "It's Christmas!" It was hard to get a good picture of both boys together since one or the other would be gazing at lights.
The outtakes are numerous and we still didn't end up with a "perfect picture". But you know what? That is perfectly ok with me. These are where our memories will come from. My silly boys mesmerized with twinkling lights...
...one of them running around hyper with the magic of the season, the other wide eyed in wonder. I'll look back and remember Harrison's little hand in mine as we moved through the crowds and Jefferson's smile to see me pushing his stroller. These are the new Christmas memories and I cherish each and every one.