Holiday Hits and Misses

I love the Christmas season, and if the weather has several chilly days in a row, so much the better.   I get a lot of enjoyment in finding unique gifts for the unique people in my life, I even like the wrapping process. I love caroling, and other opportunities to sing the songs that proclaim the birth of our Savior.  Every year has its own series of mixed experiences. This year was filled with hits:

Grateful children
My kids, I freely admit, are terribly spoiled. The saving grace in that is that they are fully aware of that fact. I’m sure it helps that we constantly remind them. Through all of their privilege, it is rare that we see even a glimpse of a sense of entitlement from them. They generally get one “big” gift and several smaller, less expensive ones, and as they mature, the process varies from being a lot easier to a lot more difficult. But whatever they receive, they are grateful.

Loving family
I don’t get nearly enough time with my own family, particularly my daughters. That changes in 2013. I want to schedule several trips to Dothan this year, and at least one trip up to Springfield. Between my job and my church duties, that been impossible to arrange, but this year I must make it happen.  Tommy’s family has become such a strong surrogate for my blood relatives that I have neglected my natural ties. I am grateful for the family I don’t see very often, and who love me anyway, and for Tommy’s family who have always treated me as if I was always a part of them.

The tree
This was kind of a “victory” for me. I love a big tree, Tommy wants one four or five feet at most. We always get a live tree (although I have an emergency artificial stand-in should time slip away from me). This year, not only were all the trees gorgeous, they were all HUGE! I brought home what was labeled as a 5’ – 6’ tree that nearly brushes our 8’ ceiling. Note to self: I need icicles next year for tree trimming. And I think it’s time for some fresh ornaments.  Make some? Buy some at some after-Christmas clearance sales? I sure didn’t see any I liked where I went this year, but I have eleven whole months to worry about that.
Our primary program

We were going to put on our primary presentation the Sunday before Christmas, but someone expressed concern that if we did that, if we had any visitors that Sunday, they might come away with the impression that we don’t celebrate Christmas. At the time I wasn’t completely on board with the sentiment, but that could have been because it pushed up the presentation by two weeks, giving me a total of one week to pull it all together. (I came around to his way of thinking, he was right to be concerned about that.) We were mostly prepared, but I had to get the bulletin printed and put together in the proper order. We have a very small children’s group, and the two oldest are approaching the age of not wanting to do a lot of stuff for public display, and the two youngest are just learning English. Those were the only four who participated in the program. It was a beautiful program, with all four children expressing and demonstrating a faith that provides an example of how to forge ahead.

Finding my “worship voice”
Recently a family moved into our little branch, and the mother plays the piano—a tremendous blessing for us. She also brings the experience of having attended larger wards, where music is included in and incorporated into more of the worship and learning experience. As I wrote earlier, I had never sung solo before, and the Sunday before Christmas, she and I sang two Christmas lullaby songs. I still prefer singing in a group, but under her direction, I am finding a voice with which I can sing praises to my God and King. My voice never sounds as fine anywhere else, and I don’t have any desire to do more with it than express my love for my Father and my Savior. But my new friend has build my confidence to a level that will allow that.

The scissors
I’m calling this a hit, because it’s just a part of who I am.  I wanted to get al the presents wrapped before I mailed them. Most of that happened. Courtenay’s presents got wrapped the morning they went out, Jessica’s were probably halfway done by the time I needed to leave for work. I had a plan. I would leave work, dash to the Daphne WalMart and get the gift cards (no, not WalMart cards) to go in the boxes, oops, I also needed some cards to put the gift cards in; then I’d go to the UPS store and wrap the rest of the gifts in the parking lot. Under other conditions that might have actually worked. If I had still been driving my Jeep, I could have done it. If the weather was not gale-force windy, I could have done it in the bed of the truck. (I’ve actually done that in the bed of my truck, but we’re talking serious wind.) As I left WalMart to head for the UPS store, I received a frantic text message from Dylan, asking about a ride to his girlfriend’s house, he had told her he would  be there at 6:30, it was 5:30 at that point. Tommy wasn’t aware of the plans, I wasn’t aware that the plans had solidified. The last I’d heard, they were still vapor. Well, I was pretty sure Jess would understand, so I decided to forego the rest of the wrapping. I don’t know if the tape was in the box when she opened it; the scissors were. I just plain forgot. The wrapping paper was sticking up out of the box demanding attention, otherwise she’d have ended up with that as well.

BIG home run—my iphone adapter
I listen to podcasts on my commute. I will never run out of material, because one of the newest additions to my list is an hour-long five-times-a-week podcast, and that’s about all I have time for in a week. So I’m actually falling behind. But I was never comfortable using the earbuds while driving. I had a device that was supposed to let me dial in an unused radio frequency and play it through the radio, but it never worked well in our area because there are so few unused frequencies. Tommy got me a device that provides an adapter to play the ipod part of my phone through the stereo, and it charges it while that’s happening. He got it installed before we went over to his mother’s for Christmas dinner. I will use that device nearly every time I get in my truck!

One miss:
And this one is solely attributable to operator error. Dylan wanted to make some fudge, and I hadn’t made any in a while. It’s a simple recipe, but a complicated process, and I wanted to get it just right, so I used the candy thermometer. I have since thrown it away, and the next batch will be done by eyeball-measurement. I’m pretty sure I overcooked the blend, because bits of it turned out like the Reisen’s chocolate candies. And I got talking with Tommy while Dylan was stirring it, and when he said, “I think it’s done,” it was too late to get it into the pan.  The flavor is great—but it’s nearly impossible to eat.  Next time..Next time it will be perfect.

There’s nothing so big and so bad that it could take the joy out of my Christmas. I know that December 25 is not the actual day our Savior was born, but regardless of where I am or what I’m doing or what else is going on in the world, the simple fact remains that he was, in fact, born. His birth is reason enough to celebrate through any difficulty. His birth, his life, his atonement, his death, and his resurrection, have given meaning to our existence. Without our Savior, there would be no point to living at all. That understanding, for me, takes it out of the park.

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