Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

A Prayer for Christmas Eve

December 25, 2013

This was the closing prayer at tonight’s Christmas vigil at our Church.

A new baby.  A little person, tiny fragile, dependant, vulnerable.

Anyone who has really sat with a baby knows the wisdom amidst that vulnerability; the loving openness in their need to absorb; the acceptance of who we are; the ability to be with us.

A new baby.  A person who will grow like us.  To experience awe and wonder and delight.  To experience pain and loss and disappointment.

A wondrous God.  More mighty and awesome than His entire creation.  Powerful and everlasting!

And yet, a wondrous God who knows what it is like to be awe-inspired, humbled.  Who knows what it is like to be vulnerable, scared, disappointed.  Happy and sad.  Loved and alone.

A wondrous God who knows what it is like to be me.

My intimate Saviour, waiting for me to come and be still; to gaze upon Him quietly; ready to fill me gently with wonder and love, of only I’ll take the time to hold this new baby in my heart.

Thank you, Jesus, for coming to us this Christmas.  Thank you for coming into our broken lives; for unwrapping the gifts of our broken hearts; for delighting even in our broken dreams.  Thank you for knowing us intimately, each and every one.

We pray this Christmas that we will fully unwrap the gift of the life you have given each of us.  Not just peek under the wrapping and be disappointed with the bits that don’t match our dreams, but really unwrap it all and discover it as the perfect gift from You – a vulnerable person, our wondrous God; our Intimate Saviour who knows us so well and still loves us anyway.

Lord Jesus, you were there in the beginning and you re here now.  Come into our lives forever.  We ask this in your own sweet name.

A Blessed Christmas to you all.

Where is Advent?

December 3, 2012

My Pastor showed this really cool clip at Church yesterday.

 

Really cool Advent explanation for Busted Halo

 

I couldn’t help pondering this as I looked at our calendar this morning.  It is crazy, and we are having a fairly quiet Christmas.

Like I said to DH, I just don’t get it.  It is Advent.  Christmas does not start until the evening of the 24th.  Christmas goes until the 6th of January.  But not in our culture… oh no!  Christmas is over by Boxing Day here.  People think you are nuts if you have Christmas celebrations after that.

So what do we do to reassess and regroup?

I just don’t know.  It is so hard, living in the world we do.  Bandicoot has a Christmas concert tomorrow, even we do things like decorate in red and green during December.  The kids will even be hosting a craft party for their friends before Christmas.  How do we keep it all purple and pink?  *sigh*

I do try to celebrate the 12 days in some small way.  Remember our candles?  (Oh, um, I guess you don’t… I have just checked and it is one of the blog entries I lost in our travels across the country last December/January).  Well I will be doing them again.  And hopefully doing something with the song The Twelve Days of Christmas.  1+1+1=1 has some nice pages… (I will leave the Religious significance until the kids are a little older.)

One year I would really like to have a 12th Night Party.  The problem is that I am so wiped out with everything else that has happened by that stage that hosting a party is just too much for me at the moment.  Sad, isn’t it?

I guess all I can do is continue with our Advent devotions; try to carve some quiet, waiting time in the bustle of preparation and celebration, focus our eyes and our hearts on the true meaning of Christmas.

Eating Christmas Past

November 15, 2012

Possum is 6 years 6 months

Bandicoot is 4 years 4 months

Little Princess is 1 year 20 months (22 months)

40 days until Christmas

Remember Christmas in the Olden Days?  I am referring to that time so long ago – last century in fact – when we were kids and growing up.

What was the menu?  I bet you can tell me!

For us it was as follows:

Roast turkey (the only time of the year that we had turkey)

Roast pork (usually cooked on Christmas Eve after the kids had gone to bed.  What an aroma to go to sleep with – as if we weren’t excited enough!)

Ham – Dad would first carve this Christmas morning and fry pieces of it for breakfast with toast.  We had it for lunch, too.

And roast veges.  Lots and lots of roast veges.  (I am blessed.  There are certain characteristics in my Mum’s family.  We have pretty eyes, our noses enter the room 5 minutes before the rest of our face, champagne runs in our veins and, most importantly in this instance, we are genetically predisposed to baking the BEST baked potatoes.  EVER.)

After that there was Christmas pudding, with sixpences in it, served with whipped cream (another legacy of my Mum’s family), ice cream (for those with Dad’s blood) and custard.  No brandy cream.  Actually, we didn’t do brandy.  RUM was the flavour of Christmas.

Mum made the Christmas pudding in November.  Each person in the family stirred it once.  If you weren’t home when the pudding was made, you were allocated a proxy.

For treats there were nuts.  Lots and lots of nuts.  Often at Christmas we would get nuts in their shells, which seemed like so much fun.

We also had rum-balls, which, often, one or more of us had made.

And Christmas cake.  I never liked Christmas cake.  I am still not a fan.  But I love the ritual.  The cake was started in October.  The fruit was chopped and soaked in rum for a week.  (In those days we had to go to specialty shops in the city to buy the fruit, not just grab it in the supermarket.)  The cake was prepared, a design was made on top of the cake with nuts and glace cherries – this was usually my job –, and then it was baked s-l-o-w-l-y.  Once it came out, it was wrapped, tin and all, in layers of brown paper, layers of newspaper and towels.  It needed to cool slowly, too.  Then the ritual began of turning the precious bundle each week, periodically unwrapping it and sprinkling it with more rum and rewrapping.  No wonder we don’t get cakes that taste like that anymore!

I am not sure if we had mince tarts.  We probably did.  I didn’t like them until I was quite grown, so I don’t really remember them (although I suspect we left them out for Santa.)

In later years, my Mum began to make vanile kipferl.  This didn’t start until I was in high-school.  Even so, she would make vast quantities of them one night in October.  There were tins of them everywhere you turned.  Visitors were always served a plateful.

And Uncle Harry (my Mum’s brother) would always bring us a watermelon.  Not just any watermelon.  They were always HUGE!

So that was Christmas.  We knew what we were having.  We knew when things would be prepared.  It was lovely and special and not completely crazy.

These days it seems we are required to reinvent things every year.  We need to have nibbles for this, fandango salads for that.  We have to have seafood and exotic meats – the traditionals are too dull.  Every year the shops are full of magazines and books bursting with “new traditions”, new recipes, things to confuse us and make us feel inadequate with with our roast turkey and fried ham.

Well not for me.

I have made it a goal this year to GATHER NO RECIPES.  It is true, we have some different traditions to my childhood.  For example, our little family likes to have a Christmas picnic on the beach.  However, we worked out a menu that works really well for this a few years ago, so I am sticking to that.

I don’t need more ways to cook a turkey, different ways to cook the veges, another pudding recipe.  I don’t need more stress wondering if the menu is good enough, trying to follow a recipe that I haven’t used before, trying to track down ingredients, the expense of not knowing quantities or whether we will even like it.

I need Christmas.  I need festivity, but I need it to be fun.  It doesn’t need to be all about food anymore than it needs to be all about presents.  There is enough to do without reinventing the wheel (or reinventing the meal) each year.

No Joy Without Forgiveness…

November 14, 2012

Possum is 6 years 6 months

Bandicoot is 4 years 4 months

Little Princess is 1 year 10 months (22 months)

 

41 days to Christmas

 

Christmas is coming.  I am not getting excited.

That is quite a statement as I am generally Christmas mad.  For starters, my name is “Natalie” which means “Christmas Child”.  What choice do I have?

But this year, there is something holding me back; a darkness dwelling in my soul;  a sadness.  It may have been there before now, but this year has added to it.

Ignoring is not the same as forgiving.

Ignoring does not take the hurt away.

But when it hurts, it is hard to forgive.

This year, DH and I are hosting the Christmas party for my siblings and offspring.  We may also be hosting a 12th night party for his siblings and offspring (they are still working out who is in what part of the country when.)

My heart is not in it.

Yes, there is a lot of work involved.  I am one of eight.  DH is one of five.  Don’t even get me started on the next two generations.  (Yup, two.  We are great uncle and great aunt on both sides.)  That is a lot of people to organise in this day and age.  (Aside:  I hate the way that instant communications – emails, mobile phones etc – have stopped anyone from making a commitment to anything until the last minute.  No, the last minute is not soon enough to find out.  I want things organised so I don’t keep stressing about them.)  A lot of people when you hate crowds of any size.

But that isn’t it.

It is true that DH and I still battle a bit with our different families.  Our families have different ways of doing some things.  His family is very happy living in each other’s pockets.  For example, they love to all stay in the same house for a week.  We once had 18 people in a three bedroom, two bathroom house.  As I had a 2yo and a 6mo at the time, I found it VERY difficult.  That is how they do things.  No introverts allowed.  (Not great for me!)  My family – well, I am discovering that it is a bit of a skill living with some of our customs, too.

Because of this I dread the whole Christmas/January family thing.  Every year I try to get involved.  I try to get excited.  I try to plan things.  Every year it (or I) end in tears.

But this year is worse.

This year there have been several hurtful events occur throughout the year.  Things that obviously were buried, rather than forgiven.  Things that are coming up again.  Things that make me think I don’t want some of these people to come to my home and join in our celebrations.  These people that have been some of the closest to us throughout our lives.

For example:

“I have so much to do looking after my own kids and grandkids, I can’t cope with your children, too.”  (In response to an invitation for coffee.)

“Our home is not an appropriate place for your children.”  (Which is why I have not been back to that home.  And actually, neither myself nor the kids have been invited back, only DH.)

“Just go away, Bandicoot.  You are not wanted here.”  (By a visitor in our own home.  My rather subdued response to this lead to a lot of discussion behind my back and quite a disagreement with DH.  I still don’t think it was an appropriate way for someone to behave in my, and Bandicoot’s, home, especially when he was just trying to join in.)

So what do I do?  I HURT.  I have tried to put it aside, to keep it from DH and the kids.  I don’t want to spoil their Christmas.  But it is spoiling mine.

To be honest, I don’t want to celebrate with either extended family.  I really don’t.  I just want to have a quiet time with the five of us.  I know that my kids and DH won’t like that, ‘though. 

I also know that it will not bring me peace.  Oh, it might for the day.  Maybe for a few days.  But over time it will still be there, rotting my soul.

How do I forgive?

Do Not Be Afraid – Christmas 2011

December 15, 2011

 

But the Angel said, “Do not be afraid.”

Have you noticed how this is a recurring message?  Of course, having an angel suddenly appear in front of you is probably very frightening, but I think there is more to it than that.

Do not be afraid.

I think we all have a lot of fears.  I think we are insecure.  I think that this world can be a scary place.  I know I do and I am and it is for me.

Do not be afraid.

What is it that you are afraid of right now, this Christmas?  What are the angels telling you not to fear?

I know of what I am afraidI am afraid of being Bandicoot’s mother.  I am afraid that Little Princess will grow up to be like Bandicoot.  I am afraid that Possum is growing up too fast.

Do not be afraid.

I am afraid of going to stay with my in-laws for Christmas.  I am not afraid of my parents-in-law.  They love me and I love them, even if it is often hard work, if sometimes we seem like strange creatures to each other and rub each other the wrong way.

I am afraid of exposing Bandicoot to people who do not love him as much as we do, who cannot accept his uniqueness as we do.  I am afraid of the judgement that I will (and I do) receive as a parent to such a spirited child.

Poor Bandicoot.  We call him our Wild Child.  That is an affectionate term for the turmoil we often feel.  As you have heard before, he suffers from Can’t-Sit-Still, from My-Body-Seems-To-Be-Bigger-and-Stronger-Than-I-Realised, from BUT-THIS-IS-MY-QUIET-VOICE, from Oh-Were-You-Talking-To-Me?-I-Was-Busy-Doing-This-Thing-That-Now-Seems-To-Have-Made-You-Angry, from Desperate-Need-For-All-Your-Attention-All-The-Time

He is also very, very loving.

He is the kind of kid who would thrive as an only child.  If I could give him the attention he craves, he would just about always be well behaved.  At least well enough behaved that I would be able to visit people occasionally.

But he’s not.  He is sandwiched between two other kids, close in age.

And the result is a nightmare.  Disobedience, yelling, kids crying, Mummy in tears…

But now we have to take it out of the house.  Out of our safe and private space.  And not just out in public where no-one knows us.  We have to take it to functions that involve lots of people, excitement, party food, tiredness.  We have to be around people not used to such live-wires (or at least, not used to them anymore!)  We need to spend extended periods of time with people who are very uncomfortable around our kids (it is sad but true that many of our siblings are in this category). And I am afraid.

In short, we need to EXPOSE our family’s dirty little secret… we are not perfect. 

Do not be afraid.

We love, we cry, we muddle, we ARE.  And we need to be accepted by those close to us as we are, not judged, not lectured and PLEASE, do NOT take it upon yourself to SMACK our Bandicoot.

I am very frightened.

Do not be afraid.

Can you accept this gift of peace this Christmas?

Second Week of Advent 2011 – Saturday

December 10, 2011

Possum is 5 years 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 5 months

Little Princess is 11 months

Allsorts of good things amongst the chaos today, and isn’t that just what real life is all about?

The kids went with Daddy to the Hardware Shop today.  When they got there they discovered a craft workshop and they came home with these:

Aren’t they great?

Here is how you would make them, if you would like to give it a whirl.

You need a polystyrene cone for the tree.  It is covered in red or green contact. (Or painted.)

Wrap double-sided tape around the tree like tinsel.

Stick wrapped lollies onto the tape as decorations.  Add glitter or other embellishments if you would like.

Stick a toothpick into a polystyrene star.  Paint the star with glue and cover with glitter.  Stick the other end of the star into top of the tree.

Be sure to bring it home and proudly show it to Mummy.

I am linking this idea to:    image

 

Remember our lovely candy cane plants?  Well these have resulted in much munching of candy canes.  It also resulted in one almost complete one sitting on DH’s bedside table (NOT left there by DH, I might add.) 

This morning Little Princess had popped by for (yet another) feed from Mummy (I am so glad that I have finally mastered breastfeeding lying down!).  After her snack, she sat up and something caught her eye.  I figured that it was the trains, also on the bedside table (also not left there by DH).  No, that wasn’t it.  She had such a sparkle in her eye.  It was the candy cane!

Ah well, I thought.  An 11 month old won’t like peppermint so let her have a lick.

IMG_2134IMG_2132 IMG_2133

Yup, it’s true.  This 11 month old didn’t like the candy cane – she LOVED it!  She ate the entire thing and enjoyed every last bit.

(Gosh, she is so cute at the moment.)

 

And as for the Countdown to Christmas box… well, this didn’t actually make it into the box, because I slipped it to the kids:

I had intended to set it up on a straight track on our front window sill, sitting the tracks on some wadding so that they looked like they were in the snow.  However, Bandicoot was setting up a train track this morning and just begging for anyone to play with him (to no avail) so I popped these trains on the tracks.

Fair to say, “Winner”.

Tonight we had planned to go Carols in the Park.  I just really wasn’t up to it.  I didn’t fancy trying to manage three kids on a picnic rug, on wet ground.  We usually have a lovely time when we are there, but I just couldn’t cope with the logistics of it.  It isn’t helped that the really local one (the one we can walk to) isn’t on this year, so we were going to have to go to the much bigger one in the next suburb.  (Actually the next-next suburb.)

Fortunately, we hadn’t told the kids about it.

Instead we had our planned dinner at home.  The marinated chicken drumsticks were such a hit with the kids that they have asked if I will please make them again.  (I marinated them in Coca Cola, garlic and ginger for about three days.)  Of course, DH and I are still not that keen on them – too fatty for us – but I bet I can work something for them again.

 

We also decided to do a family movie night.  This is something that I have heard of many families doing, but have never been able to convince mine to try.  Oh we had a lovely time!

I restocked the box while the kids were in the bath:

IMG_2145 Something for everyone!

We watched Red Boots for Christmas first.  We all enjoyed that one.  Possum kept saying, “That was a really nice show”.  (Here is a link to the “Red Boots” website.)

Little Shepherd was good, but it was a little too forced for my liking.  I guess that it had to be to fit all the story into the time frame and to make it accessible to the younger audience.  (I do, however, want to grow-up to be like Joel’s grandfather.)

At the end, we started to watch the Dora Christmas Carol (again), but the kids got too tired, so we cut our losses and plonked them into bed.

 

I wonder if DH and I will have time to curl up on the lounge and watch something over a cuppa (and perhaps a piece of stollen) now?

 

Things I know Friday – er, Saturday (9/10th December Edition)

December 10, 2011

Linking up with Shae over at Yay for Home!

image

Aah, so it is the middle of Advent and time for a Things I Know session.  I am guessing that this might have a particular theme to it.

 

Things I know today:

I know that I am exhausted.  My body clock is a mess – up half the night, falling asleep when I sit down, slipping into a coma when I breasfteed (well, not quite, but definitely a stupor.)

I know that even though I am trying hard to ignore it, and to embrace the peace of the season, I have panic going on deep, down there.

I know I am SICK of the shops.  That has never happened before.  In previous years I have enjoyed going to the shops for a coffee or a wander just to soak up the atmosphere even after I have finished my shopping.  This year I don’t even want to go back to buy milk.  Admittedly, in previous years I have not had three preschoolers in tow.

I know that I am worried about Christmas.  We are travelling interstate to spend Christmas with my in-laws.  We will be away for four weeks in total.  I am in such a state trying to work out what we need and get it ready.  I am also quite concerned about my wild boys in their grandparents’ house and in their aunty’s house (her wild boys are a bit bigger these days.)  I know that I will be much better when I sit in the car on the 22nd of December.

I also know that I am a bit of a grumpy old troll at the moment.  Secretly, I am so glad that Possum is giving up gymnastics for a term.  Next week is his last session.  (And I am also glad that his favourite coach is leaving, because it means we can change clubs to one that is more accessible.)  I am also glad that our other regular activities are winding down.  I am even glad that it rained earlier so that I can can the idea of us going to Carols by Candlelight tonight.  (Oh no!  A humbug, too!)

I know that this last year has been really hard.  It has probably been one of the hardest of my life.  Three littles is no walk in the park.  The daily struggle to do anything – the amount of time it takes getting people into a car for example (15 minutes, assuming they are co-operating) – it has been very taxing.  And my back hurts too much from struggling with seatbelts.  Toilet training, new baby, school transition, illnesses, just to name a few of that bonus activities.

I also know that I am so glad that I got to have them all at home together for a year.  They are great friends, even if they fight!

I know that our current lifestyle cannot continue.  With all that has been going on, we have been running largely on survival mode for a long time.  I know we can’t keep up like that.  The family is running low on all the things that make life happy and good.  Next year I am hoping to add more homemaking back into my agenda.  It is a long way to go before we are featured in a coffee table magazine, but life running a little more smoothly will be nice.  (Hopefully I will have a little more energy with Possum at Big School, *sniff*, Bandicoot at Kindy, *sniff*, and Little Princess having turned 1, *sniff*.)

 

I also know that I need DH to help me find the Christmas CDs.  (Hello, Sweetie!  *waves*  I know you are out there!!)

And given the oozey swamp of thoughts in my head right now, well that’s a lot of stuff to know!

 

Second Week of Advent 2011 – Friday

December 9, 2011

Possum is 5 years and 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years and 5 months

Little Princess is 11 months

 

And they grew some more…

 IMG_2106

Today was largely taken up with other events, but you can’t expect a kid to start school without some sustenance, can you?

I was really touched.  I was in the shower this morning and Bandicoot came running in waving two of the large candy canes. 

“Look, look, Mumma!  They grew big ones!  Here’s one for me and one for you!” 

Say what you do about that boy (and we DO), but he loves his Mumma.

IMG_2107

I decided on a treat for Bandicoot this afternoon.  I thought that after his first (half) day at school, he might need some snuggle time with me, a little bit of extra loving.  Remember Polar Express?  Well he keeps asking for the train movie. (Did I mention how much he loves trains?  Second only to sharks.  And maybe his Mumma.)  I mentioned the movie to Possum, and, cool dude that he is now that he is so grown-up, he declared that he didn’t like the movie that much.  (After we bought it, you notice.  Grrr.)

So when Bandicoot came home at lunch time, he got to open the Countdown to Christmas Box and what did he find?

image

And what did we do, Bandicoot, Little Princess and I?  We snuggled on the lounge and watched it.  We had a very enjoyable time.

Another Christmas Give-away that I have Found

December 8, 2011

Possum is 5 years 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 5 months

Little Possum is 11 months

imageAbby over at Little Learning Lovies has a wonderful idea for the lead up to Christmas.  In their family, instead of playing music in the car during this period, all the Carols and songs are played inside the house.  In the car they play Christmas stories.  Isn’t that a wonderful idea?

And, just when you were already feeling warm and cozy and hot-chocolatey inside, she has written an entry all about The Adventures of Mrs Claus.  If that wasn’t enough, she also has a giveaway going.  You can win an MP3 download of the stories, or, if you live in the US, you can win the CD version.

Head on over and check it out.

Second Week of Advent – Thursday

December 8, 2011

Possum is 5 years 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 5 months

Little Princess is 11 months

Wow!  Look what happened overnight!

IMG_2103

Itty-bitty candy canes have sprouted!

The boys think it is absolutely amazing.  They really believe that they are growing and are afraid of damaging them.  At one point, Bandicoot’s fell over and all the little canes fell out.  Oh the tears!  DH told him that maybe if we quickly put them back in they would still be okay.

Of course, the real challenge is not to eat them all – if you eat them all when they are so little, no big ones will grow, will they?  This has had two outcomes:

Bandicoot – eat all except one

Possum – only eat one per day and see how big they grow

See how big they grow? See how big they grow? Oh-oh!  We have explained that they will only grow to a certain maximum size and probably stop.  Or else, as DH put it, what would happen if we never picked them?  They would keep growing and growing and take over the house and we would have nowhere to live!  Judging from the giggles that this elicited, I am not sure if some little boys are planning an science experiment.

 

And on the topic of candy canes, it seemed a great time to introduce this book:

IMG_2105   

It appeared in the Countdown to Christmas Box this morning.

I have read about this book for a couple of years now on many American blogs.  It sounded good, but I wasn’t sure if it would live up to expectations.  Some things are lost in the cultural divide.

When I found it for just $7- I thought I could take the risk and find out for myself.

I have to say that I was well-pleased with this one.

It is a lovely story about a (very jolly looking) Candy-maker who designs a new lolly – the candy-cane.  It talks about why he made it like he did, reflecting on the Christian message.  It is written nicely in verse, with big, beautiful decorations and pictures of the most delicious looking candy canes.

When I read it to the kids today, we stopped and had a little discussion about English dialects.  They now understand that “Candy” is what people in America call lollies.  (We also included that they are called “sweets” in the UK.)  Tonight when DH read the book he substituted “lolly” in place of “candy” throughout.  I had to chuckle quietly to myself.  He really hates it when people here say things like “cookie”, “fire-truck” or “store”.  At least it didn’t ruin the rhymes!