Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Most Wonderful Night of the Year

If there is one night of the year that is the pinnacle for me, one night that I would be happy to live over and over if I could, it's Christmas Eve.  The combination of family togetherness, memories of years gone by, the beauty of decorations, the anticipation of what the next day will bring, the winding down as tasks are completed, the peace, the joy, the remembrance of what happened in Bethlehem on a night so long ago, the contagious enthusiasm of children...well, all of those things and more, when put together, make Christmas Eve my favorite night of the year.  I love it with all my being.

This year, our Christmas Eve looked like this...  :)

Of course, I didn't photograph everything; but I will note here (because I, and maybe I alone, will be interested in the future to know) that, for supper, we had cheddar chowder and rustic herb bread, and it was a perfect choice for a simple Christmas Eve supper.

While the kids were waiting for us all to be ready to gather and watch each of them open one gift, they worked off some energy by doing wheelbarrow races.  I don't think it's possible to do wheelbarrow races--either by participating or by spectating--and not laugh.  ;-)

And then I summoned the troops and demanded a picture of all of us.  Nobody was the least bit surprised.  ;-)
Each of the children got a book for their Christmas Eve gift; and the ones who do not currently have a sleeper that fits well also got that, so that they could wear them and all be in sleepers for Christmas morning.
Moriah got to go first...
...and was watched assisted by her brothers.  ;-)

Then Shav's turn...  :)

Then Tobin...

David already had a sleeper...
...but we gave him a Star Wars book that he had really been wanting...
...and he was so happy he started bouncing up and down all around the living room, and the next few pictures all looked like this.  :)
Last but not least, Josiah's turn...

A scene of joy, repeated in many, many homes around the country on that night.
Nothing unusual about ours.
Except it's OURS.  :)
And I wouldn't trade this blessing for anything.  :)
The most special part of the whole evening was having my mother with us.  Since her move to an Alzheimer's wing of a local nursing home back in August, life has changed a lot for her and for us; and we miss having her a part of our daily life.  But we are always grateful when it works out for her to come and be in our home again, sharing life the way we used to.
On Christmas Eve of last year, I had wondered if it would be the last time we would have all nine of us together; and this year, my heart rejoiced at the knowledge that at least, for 2014, our circle was still unbroken.  My heart cries THANK YOU for this gift God has given us!
Having Mother here for Christmas Eve and then again on Christmas Day really did make it feel like not too much had changed, because last year, after our Christmas Eve festivities, she and Dad left to go down to their house before returning on Christmas morning.  This year, they left in the same way; but rather than just walking down the hill to their house, Dad drove her back to the nursing home.  And then, faithful chauffeur that he is, he returned the next morning to pick her up and bring her back--only that time, he brought someone else with her, but that belongs in the next post.  :)
Shav and Tobin were both THRILLED with their new sleepers, and they agreed to pose for me.

They may not be superheroes in the traditional sense of the word; but to me, they are definitely SUPER HEROES!!!  :)
After my parents left, the boys brought down their sleeping bags for their annual camp-out by the Christmas tree.
Josiah read the last reading in our Advent book...
...then he and David read their new books while Tobin and Shav played a game of War.
Moriah wanted to play a card game, too, so Jeff played with her.  I'm not sure if it was Hearts or Rummy, but I do know our little girl was thrilled to play with her daddy.  ;-)
This spot on the big couch was reserved for me, and I could hardly wait to get to it; but first, I had some things to do to be ready for the next day.
I kept getting distracted though.  I would go into the kitchen to wash some dishes or make the dessert for the next day, for example, but then peek into the living room, notice how beautiful it was, then pick up my camera to take a few photos.  I would have made faster progress if I had been able to focus on my jobs better; but then again, I wouldn't have these pictures.  I think I made the right choice.  ;-)

I wasn't the only one who was having a hard time focusing.  The boys were having their usual I'm-too-excited-to-sleep! problem; and it wasn't until Josiah and David decided to have a contest to see who could keep his eyes closed the longest that they fell asleep.

Tobin and Shav were another story.  They kept popping out of bed, looking into the kitchen to see what I was doing, asking questions, chattering to each other, and so forth.  I understood completely how they felt, but also knew they needed to get some sleep that night!  Eventually they succumbed, and all was quiet.
And beautiful.  Did I mention how beautiful it was?  ;-)

From the kitchen, I glanced up and noticed our nutcrackers in the window by the Christmas tree.
Well, I had to take some pictures of that!  The dishwasher would have to wait.  ;-)

And so it went for me: a little work, a little fun taking pictures, then back to work again.  :)
On one of the trips into the living room, I noticed that Shav, who had started the night with two plastic daggers under his pillow had at some point in his sleep gotten hold of them and had one in each hand.  My little protector is always on duty.  :)
Finally, I was done.  Finally, I could lay my head down near the Christmas lights and savor all the wonder that is Christmas Eve.  Finally I could drift off and "sleep in heavenly peace."
I did so with a river of gratitude in my heart.

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