Monday, December 27, 2010


My long-time friend Logan left a comment on one of my blogs that resonated with me:

I've personally found it helpful to embrace the whole Advent season and not just the Christmas feast. The four weeks prior to the celebration of Christ's birth are for penance--not in the sense of walking around all depressed but in the sense of annually remembering the brokenness of the world and preparing our hearts to receive him (making a straight path for the Lord by dying to self and giving mercy to those around us). If Christmas is all feast and no fast, we will miss the joyfulness of the occasion. And, as you point out, Christmas itself also looks forward (to Easter morn). And Easter itself looks forward to the day when we see the fullness of the promise come to pass.

I thought a lot about advent...and the lack of observing it in my own case. Unfortunately, I didn't begin stewing on this until mid-December. I did find a few ways to not only observe advent but also teach our kids about preparing their hearts and am planning on implementing those next year.

One topic that came up a lot this month in conversations with other parents is how to focus on Christ during Christmas and how to not get carried away in a current of materialism. We definitely have our share of presents because while S. and I get one present per kid and one pair of new pajamas...they have an abundance of grandparents, a great-grandma, a few great-aunts and uncles, as well as aunts, uncles, and cousins who can't let Christmas slip by without blessing them with new things.

We enjoy presents, but we've also been intentional to build traditions that aren't wrapped. Christmas Eve my father-in-law gets into town and we go to the Christmas Eve service with him and my sister-in-law, Megan. This year my sister Jasmine's family was asked to blow out the candles at the service after we sang "Happy Birthday Jesus".
We have Christmas Eve dinner with S.'s family and then brand-new pajamas to open. (Yes, I bought myself pajama pants and wrapped them up...only to find S. also got some and wrapped them for me.)
Christmas morning we have breakfast with S.'s family at our house. Then our kids attempt to listen and not squirm too much as S. reads. This year he read some prophecies from Isaiah,
followed by blowing the shofar (ram's horn) to symbolize Christ's coming, and then read the Christmas story.

Of course there are presents that seem to last for hours, followed by playing with those presents which lasts until lunch and nap time.

After naps all the Taylors pile into my parent's house along with my siblings and their families, other extended family, and some good friends. This year we had over 30 people... and 13 of them were ages 6 and under.
After dinner my dad reads the Christmas story and all of the kids act it out. This never ceases to be entertaining. This year 11 children between the ages of 2-6yrs. participated. There were tears over who gets to play what role, rogue wise men interrupting the angels, and lots of improvising. (For example, wise men and shepherds both got crowns because who doesn't want a cool Burger King crown? Also, the stuffed puppies who were supposed to be the shepherd's sheep doubled as gold and myrrh when we realized we were short on gifts for Jesus.)
(Gage did exceptional as Joseph considering this is all new to him!)
The Nativity re-enactment ends and the kids sing us Christmas songs (and by 'the kids' I mostly mean Darla. The angels took the stage and Darla began reciting lines that we didn't know she had memorized for the occasion. My sister Ericka raised her eyebrows and whispered, "We're going to need a bigger stage".)
The kids get to open more presents. This is them all trying to hug my grandma at the same time in a chorus of "thank you"s:
The kids' treat on Christmas is to blow out Jesus' candles and eat cupcakes after another round of "Happy Birthday Jesus".
Once the kids are settled with new toys, us adults get to have a white elephant gift exchange This is the best way to have an inclusive one feels left out as long as they can bring a random gift. (Yes, my grandma ended up with a fish that said "Stop looking at my bass".)
It was 9pm when we left my parent's house. Our kids were beyond exhausted for our hour drive home. As we neared our neighborhood Darla summed up our celebration well (with a yawn), "Wow. We were sooo blessed today. I didn't even KNOW that Christmas could be like this. It was the best ever."


  1. While I know the last pic was supposed to be of your Grandma, I enjoyed seeing Jasmine on the rocking horse.

    :) :) :)

  2. I didn't even notice that until you pointed it out!