Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Cheer And A Really Cool Gift

 What a treat last week was!  In the thirteen years we've lived in Massachusetts, we've never had family visit at Christmastime.  It's always been a super quiet day for us, which we've always enjoyed, but this year it was just super special.  My youngest sister, Melinda, from Texas arrived on Friday, and then my brother, Stu, and his new wife, Rachel arrived on Christmas Eve.  Sadly, I came down with the same flu/cold/fever I'd been nursing my family through in the previous two weeks, so I missed the trip to Boston to pick them up AND the Christmas Eve service.
 We set the Christmas-morning-wake-up-time to be 8am.  This was in order to give mom and the weary travelers a chance to rest, but it is still quite a stretch to put off the opening of the presents until that late in the morning.  I'm pretty sure Kayla was wide awake at 5am.  We all enjoyed a Christmas devotion and prayer together, and then opened stockings.  After that, we tried to make the present-opening last as long as possible by letting each person unwrap one gift at a time.
 The last gift to be opened was the "big" one ~ an Xbox 360/Kinnect and one new game per kid.  To my never-ever-had-a-game-system-kids, this was VERY exciting.  Kayla's game was Just Dance 4, and that's pretty much all we did for the rest of the day!  Even I was able to muster up some energy to play and score higher than Kayla once or twice.  It must have been the fog of fever and congestion that enabled me to do this, because I'm pretty sure it will never happen again, but for a few short moments all those old cheerleader dance moves returned, and I could actually follow the steps.  ☺
 Here are the "Aunts" competing against the nephew and niece!
 It may sound silly, but I actually prayed for a white Christmas, so that Stu and Rachel, who came all the way from the California desert, could have that magical experience.  Well, we did get a dusting on Christmas, but then two days later, we got about five inches.  They got to throw snowballs, make snowmen, and even try their hand {and poor old backs} at shoveling!  Now they're in Boston to celebrate the New Year, and got pummeled by almost a foot of snow there yesterday.  We took them into the city early in the day, and then spent four hours trying to get home in the snowstorm later that afternoon.  We made it home without incident, and were just so happy to have been able to spend a bit more time with them in one of our favorite cities!
 It was definitely a highlight for Cooper, who got to visit the Newbury St. Niketown TWICE in one week.  He even got to purchase the awesome Jordan backpack he's had his eye on for a while.
 Lunch at The Cheesecake Factory at the Prudential Center, Starbucks, and then sad goodbyes at the Westin.

And now I just HAVE to show you what one of my Christmas gifts was this year.  My siblings and our spouses "draw" names for our Christmas gift exchange.  Rachel, my new sister-in-law as of July, drew my name this year, and I was so excited and blessed by what she gave me.  Take a look....

 Rice, quinoa, olive oil, and soup mix...

 ....and chocolates...all "natural, organic, and fair trade grocery items" from a Christian company called Trade as One whose mission is to create dignified employment for the poor.  Rachel had heard the founder of this organization speak at her church.
 And all of the wonderful food products were neatly stored in this beautiful bag.  I made the bean soup for lunch one day, and it was really good!  Robert and I spent time reading their website today, and are planning to subscribe to their quarterly shipment of products.  I can't wait.
But wait, there's more!  Also found in that cute shopping bag was this:
A gorgeous necklace and earring set from an organization called NightLight International, which is a Christian organization that seeks to "address the complex issues of commercial sexual exploitation through prevention, intervention, restoration, and education."  My jewelry was made in Bangkok, Thailand by a woman who was rescued from prostitution through the alternative employment that NightLight offered her.  I'm in tears just typing that sentence.

Is that a cool gift or what?  So full of meaning and purpose.  So centered on Christ's character of compassion and grace.  I am so touched to own these things and to now know small, but specific ways I can help in these important ministries.

It's really what Christmas is all about.

Heart full of thanks for a wonderful Christmas week!

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