I may need to revisit this post and add some more memories later, but these are the moments that stand out right now.
-I loved attending our Christmas Eve service (I went to the one on the 23rd). My wonderful mother made this possible by babysitting for me. Sometimes it is weird and/or tempting always to attend church events by myself while my husband is working at them, but that night it was pure joy just to go and worship with our dear church family.
-I loved how excited our kids were to open the final box of our Advent calendar, where Baby Jesus was hiding.
-I loved how the kids made their paper angels (a craft that Nana did with them on Christmas Eve eve) swoop and soar all over the place when we sang "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" on Christmas night. What a picture of the magnificent, holy joy the angels must really have had on that mysterious night 2,000 years ago!
-I loved going to a nursing home in Charlottesville, VA two days after Christmas to sing to and visit with the residents there. My sister Jacque organized our trip, and Mom and Dad, Asher and Jacque and their crew, and Dave and I and ours all went together. Despite some exhausted kids--and one who completely melted down over her close-up encounter with the very aged--we had a great time. It was so obviously meaningful to the dear folks in the home. I hope we can do this again soon.
-I loved taking the kids to church on Christmas morning. There were no children's classes that day, and I was definitely nervous about wrangling all three (plus my very pregnant belly) through an hour-long service by myself. By God's grace, everyone did wonderfully. It was a joy to sing carols with my kids, listen to the sermon together, and hear Meg say as we arrived back in the car, "That was fun! I hope we get to go to the 'big meeting' again next Christmas!"
-I loved how enthusiastic Meg and Matthew were about their Christmas notebooks. I actually had to cut them off from adding more and more pages, as we had other Christmas Day activities to which we needed to move. I also loved their answers to the question, "What do you love most about Jesus?" Meg's answer, written in her own hand, was, "Jesus berth day." Matthew's, dictated to me, was "I wuv dat He's my Fadder."
-I loved singing carols with the extended Nalle fam at our gathering the day after Christmas. We were a smaller group this year, having lost two to death in 2011 and missing some who were traveling elsewhere, but singing together is one tradition that brings true comfort. Bonus joys this year: my mom led my kids and their cousins in a brief but very amusing performance of "Come Little Shepherd," my sweet little cousin Aaron sang to us all by himself (with some very quiet help from his mommy), Uncle Rob and his boys sang, "Mary Did You Know?," and Gran read to us an extended excerpt from her mother's journal about the growth of her faith in Christ. It makes me weep to think how blessed I am to be a fourth (or perhaps more) generation Christian. Praise be to our promise-keeping God, who is still in the business of "showing love to thousands of those who love him and keep his commandments." (Exodus 20:6)