It was rushed and abbreviated.
And plain old hard work. All the gifts and meals and wrapping and cleaning and re-cleaning. Not to mention the piles and piles of dishes. . .
But even in the crazy, my heart was calm. Until it wasn't.
I worked so hard this month to slow the pace of my heart. I did so well. Until about 11 am on Christmas Day. And then I just stopped. I allowed hurt and disappointment and fatigue to take over.
What a waste the last 36 hours were.
The good news? Christmas break is far from over. The kids and I will likely be snowed in for another day or two. (Chad left at dusk on Christmas Day to begin preparing to move snow from our epic ND Christmas blizzard. He will probably not be home for another day or two.)
Tomorrow is a new day. A new chance. His mercies will be new and in Him, my heart will be too.
We had a short family celebration on the 23rd. The littlest three (Mataya, Wyatt, and Sophia) took turns napping so we didn't get many photos - but I did get this one snap of these six all in one place at the same time. What a blessing those moments are, no matter how brief!
Sophia Jean Marie was snuggled by us all.
Jamison and Wyatt bonded over trucks in Joshua's room. It is the first time they have really played. Jay prefers little ones that talk and walk and use a toilet. Wyatt does two of the three, so they are well on their way to being forever friends!
On Christmas Eve, we were able to attend an 11 am church service with the youngest 5 kids and my parents. It has been a very, very long time since we have attended church with my parents. I am very thankful for that hour together. Sierra, Brenna, and I chose nearly identical outfits for church - so I insisted on a couple of pictures.
Mataya was feeling quite left out, so we added her into a few!
Mataya LOVES being in the center of it all.
She has a mind of her own, my TayTay girl. She pushes the limits like only the baby of the family can. She hates shoes, not to mention socks. Always has wild and crazy hair. Insists on the most outlandish outfits. Throws a tantrum that makes me dread her teen years. And yet - is the sweetest little thing in the universe. She says, "Mommy we are best friends." Is happiest on my lap. Knows my every thought and emotion just by the position of my shoulders. And makes every day a million times better and ten times harder all wrapped into one. She is our delight, and boy, oh boy does she keep us on our toes!
It is not Christmas without a picture of Chad and I in front of the tree. Many traditions were skipped, but not this one! I am happiest with my head tucked into that very spot between his shoulder and chin.
We DID spend a couple of wild and crazy hours with Chad's mom's side of the family. It was intense and noisy and chaotic and very precious. Chad's grandpa is struggling. That is very hard. Chad's grandpa has been one of his most trusted friends and mentors. Chad adores him as no other. Spending a bit of time with him, some of Chad's siblings, and all of Chad's cousins was very special. As Cal (Chad's grandpa) prepared to leave, he wanted hugs from everyone. Chad hugged him - but before Cal left asked Chad one more hug. Chad hugged him again and told him he loved him. Cal responded, "I love you, too." And then looked around the room at all the generations of noise and activity and said, "We have some family." That right there. That 7 seconds IS Christmas.
(I will also always remember overhearing Sierra tell him that she had gotten a tattoo. Cal has a typical navy veteran tattoo of scantily dressed girl on his arm. He asked what she got and where it was. She told him it was on her foot. He asked if it hurt. She said it did! The she asked if his had hurt. He responded, "I don't know. I was drunk!" Oh, we laughed. Cal's memory is not what it once was - but his innocent truthfulness is such a treasure. He is a very special man. I am so thankful my kids have such wonderful memories with him.)
Christmas Day included stockings, brunch, a quick trip stop to say Merry Christmas to my mom and dad (think 20 minutes), and then naps and movies before we packed Chad up to fight another blizzard. Yet another blizzard will help to pay the bills, and for that we choose to give thanks. (Even when we are irked by the timing and exhausted by the hours.)
Christmas may not have been all I hoped - but tomorrow is a new day.
A fresh new gift.
A day in which I will slow the pace of my heart and savor the chaos that surrounds me. By His grace and for His glory.