‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the house
not a Christmas tradition had occurred, not even a carol.
The stockings were not hung by the chimney with care,
and Theo was working and working and working.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
because the stomach bug visited, their stomach and their heads.
And Mama was about to lose her mind, you see,
she hadn’t wrapped a single present or taken any pictures of kids with glee.
When early the morning of Christmas did come,
We flurried around and packed up the car.
Away to Michigan we drove, not in a flash,
for baby Kiah needed to eat very often.
The white Christmas we wanted was soon to be had!
and the Hines family we saw were so, so glad!
when, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but Christmas! and presents! And cousins galore!
With a friendly, happy Grandpa, and Grandma so sweet
We knew we were home and good food we could eat.
Opening presents was fun and all the cousins had a blast!
Avrie and Ian! Kyrin and Ade! Corah and Avia! Emma and Evie! Tera and Kiah! Josie and Jamie and Uncle Seth, too!
Then onto dinner and games and spending time with family,
and loving every moment to finally rest.
Until midnight came and what to our wondering eyes did appear,
but a puking toddler, oh, how that struck Mommy with fear!
We packed up our car and away did we go,
in fear of all the cousins coming down with it so.
Mommy cried and Daddy had a migraine
and finally home did we arrive…much later than we wanted.
Ok, so that didn’t rhyme as well as I would have liked, but that was our Christmas!
To be honest, Christmas was pretty rough for me this year. Going into December I didn’t have very high expectations, but even with that we didn’t do anything that our culture deems Christmassy. And not because I didn’t want to. But because it just didn’t happen. The week before Christmas, Theo worked 84 hours. No, not away on business. He actually clocked 84 hours on the job. Tera threw up Thursday evening and I got it Thursday night, but we were both 100% fine by Friday afternoon. We decided to head up to Michigan on Sunday (Christmas) morning. Theo worked until 7 am, and then we hit the road. It’s normally a 6 hour drive, but it ended up taking us longer because we had to stop and feed Kiah so often. All of Theo’s family was Up North and we were SO excited to see them. We knew that we could only stay 24 hours, so we wanted to cram in as much fun as possible!
As soon as we got there, we fed Kiah, refreshed ourselves from the long road trip and then all gathered together to open presents.
Grandpa told the Christmas story with the help of all the grandkids. There are 12 grandkids, with another one on the way!
Tera is a pretty quiet girl and gets fairly overwhelmed in large groups, so she was just sitting back and taking it all in. Thankfully she is warming up to everyone and knows all their names. I wouldn’t exactly call her shy, but she is very reserved.
Some of the cousins eager to start handing out presents!
Isaiah and Sarah flew all the way from the West Coast with Jamie, their 3 month old! I didn’t even get to hold Jamie and I am so bummed! I am also so bummed I didn’t get to spend more time with them!
We went around and opened gifts in family units.
We make super attractive faces when we open our gifts.
As you can imagine with 25 people, it gets a little chaotic.
Someone got ahold of my camera and I have some stellar pictures of some of the brothers.
Opening more gifts!
More gifts being opened! There are seven brothers and it’s so much fun when everyone gets together!
Here I am all snuggled in an armchair with my two little loves, talking to a sister in love across the room filled with tons of children and chaotic present opening. That about sums up Christmas!
Grandpa has a little mini pug named Pug-Z.
King Kiah just chilling.
Daddy and Tera.
And thats a wrap on all the pictures I took. We ate a delicious Christmas dinner and then put all the kids to bed. The boys usually play some hardcore strategy games while the ladies sit around and talk birth stories, baby rearing and all sorts of things in between. Those evenings with the Hines family are my favorite. We enjoyed our one evening, but Theo and I were so exhausted that we headed to bed around 10. Shortly after midnight, Tera woke up and started throwing up. It was the strangest thing because she had been sick four days earlier, but had had three completely normal days. She threw up once and Theo cleaned up everything and then slept on the floor with her and a bucket. I stayed in the bed with Kiah and fed him through the night. We decided that we should pack up and leave right away instead of exposing all the cousins to whatever Tera apparently had. By morning she was perfectly fine, but Theo and I were exhausted and deeply discouraged about having to cut our brief 24 hours even shorter. Theo was so exhausted and sore from sleeping on the floor that he came down with a migraine, so I had to do the majority of the driving home. We had traffic, construction, horrible weather and needing to stop every few hours to feed Kiah on the way back. It was the longest trip home EVER, and I will admit that I cried for a good portion of it. I just wanted that family time so badly, and it seemed so incredibly unfair that all this would happen to us.
On that long drive I had a lot of time to reflect on Christmas and how hard it had been for me. I know it’s selfish to complain about something as minuscule as the stomach bug when there are so many worse things that could happen in the world.
Theo and I have talked about how we didn’t love Christmas this year, but we did actually love how we didn’t do any of the “traditional” things like presents and stockings and making a big deal out of the day itself. It made the day more sacred. More outer-focused. More about Christ, and his humble beginnings. Christmas isn’t about big presents or even family time. It’s about reflecting on Christ and how God himself came to the earth in the most humble way and at the most humble time. It wasn’t a “perfect Christmas”- in fact, it was probably the opposite of that in so many ways. I have never felt more understanding of the true meaning of Christmas until I went through this Christmas.
And now we are closing out this year and I am reflecting on all the things that I have gone through this year, and how much I have learned about God and His greatness. I’m weary and exhausted and not quite sure that I’m ready to tackle 2017 head-on, but here we are…He gives great grace and sustains us even when we aren’t sure how to keep on keeping on.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.