19 Things I Learned During the Christmas Season of 2019.

It’s that time again. The occasion when I gather my wits about me, along the candy wrappers from my stocking loot I’m still consuming, and open my mind and laptop. I sift through my sugar haze and recall what I’ve learned over Christmas break.

Mind you, none of these lessons are necessarily life altering, but I believe moments and lessons don’t have to be ultra important in order to be noteworthy. Sometimes I simply like to record and remember what life was like during a specific stage and season. I’ve done this for several years.

And so now I present to you…

19 Things I Learned Over Christmas Break 2019

  1. The more cups of coffee I consume while decorating my house for Christmas, the more strands of lights I hang inside.

 

  1. If you have a Costco membership, your husband may put 40 pens in your stocking.

 

  1. Birds of a feather flock together. This is also true for The Andy Griffith Show fans. Sometimes New Year’s Eve “partying” looks like a ruckus game of Mayberry Trivia. This was on purpose.

 

  1. Giving your children gift certificates for Christmas entitling them to one 24-hour period over Christmas break when they could watch unlimited tv, play unlimited video games, and have no bedtime is a big hit. It also leads to weakened brain cells and immune systems.

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  1. Strep throat is content to spend time with my children and stays longer than one 24-hour period.

 

  1. When the family is sick, it might just be a good time to try the 7-day free trial of Disney+. What was that we said about unlimited tv? Yes, Mom and Dad can use your gift certificate too.

 

  1. Disney movies you enjoyed as a child will not necessarily translate and hold up to your children today.

 

  1. Home Alone will.

 

  1. No one is actually good at bowling. This does not stop anyone.

 

  1. Sometimes you take a risk and give a gift you’re not sure will be well-received.

 

  1. Sometimes the gifts you aren’t sure will be well-received turn out to be some favorites.

 

  1. If your child has a megaphone, she’s probably going to use it wake you and your husband up on Christmas morning.

 

  1. If you’re so far into break you don’t know what day it is or what time it is you’re doing it correctly.

 

  1. Finding out it’s the time you usually go to bed, and you just finished a Coke-in-a-bottle, you find that caffeine does indeed keep you awake.

 

  1. Nothing brings out inner Divas like a pink karaoke machine. My daughters enjoy it too.

 

  1. You can teach a new dog old tricks: a 9-year-old can be thrilled with the gift of a used, broken, rotary phone.

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  1. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, even if you give them the lyrics and a microphone. (See #5).

 

  1. My son is a member of the “I need longer pants each month” club. I’m thinking about joining the “I need wider pants each month club.”

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  1. Sometimes clichés are just that. Cliché. But “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” holds up better than Home Alone.

Why It Is Okay To Live An Ordinary Life

Why it's okay to live an ordinary life.

Have you ever felt like your days are just mundane, ordinary, and without the excitement you see in the lives of those around you? I’m so sorry. Sometimes, I feel that way too.

One of the “Slices of Hope” from my book, If Only It Were a Piece of Cake, is:

“Without the ordinary, there would be no extraordinary.”

And, this time of year, I can’t help but think of the shepherds who were told about Jesus’ birth. Maybe this book excerpt about those guys will encourage you today.

Carry on, friend. God works and meets us in ordinary places. I’m so thankful that He does.

***

The following is an excerpt from the Discontentment and Insecurity chapter of If Only It Were a Piece of Cake – Slices of hope for life’s difficult moments

 

My favorite biblical example of ordinary people, in an ordinary place, who experienced an extraordinary moment? The shepherds to whom the angels told of Jesus’ birth. Talk about people just doing their job and getting on with life. These guys probably hadn’t had an extraordinary existence until that evening. The fact that they were shepherds in a fairly small town proves their ordinariness. Not kings. Not movie stars. Not even lawyers or biology teachers. They took care of sheep for a living. Sheep. Maybe throw in some camels and goats, but still, they ranked pretty low on the prestige scale. They saw the same scenery each day and night. They were probably buddies, sitting around a fire most evenings, talking about nothing spectacular. Ordinary.

And then one evening everything changed.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them and said, “Do not be afraid.” That he says this indicates they probably were a little freaked out. Who wouldn’t be? An angel shows up out of nowhere and tells them “good news that would bring great joy for all people.” (Luke 2.) The news that the Messiah had been born in their town. The One that would rule forever and bring peace and hope to all men was born in their town!

This is the best news they, or any of us for that matter, could have heard. This is life changing. This is world changing. This is eternity changing. The shepherds, just normal guys out with their sheep, heard the news first. And then they were given the opportunity to go see Jesus. They were among the very first to meet him personally.

Suddenly, their ordinary lives became extraordinary.

But notice this. They didn’t orchestrate it. They didn’t plan it. They really had nothing to do with it. They didn’t brainstorm or vision-cast, “Hey guys, let’s be the first to hear about the Messiah’s birth. Meet me in the field Christmas day. Wear your ugly sweaters.”

No! Of course not! They had nothing to do with the extraordinary. They just were doing their ordinary jobs, on an ordinary night, when God broke through the mundane and changed their worlds.

This makes me feel good. I can relate to the shepherds. I’ve never spent much face-to-face time with a sheep, but I’ve been known to live in some pretty ordinary moments. To know that living in the ordinary is all that is really required of me in order for God to show up and do the extraordinary, well that makes me smile.

 

For more, follow Christy on Facebook at Christy Cabe •Ten Blue Eyes•

You can find Christy’s books on Amazon, or learn more on her website here: https://christycabe.com/home/books/.

 

17 Things I Learned During the Christmas Season of 2017

Each year for the past several, I have taken the time to sit down and write out my thoughts and ponderings at the end of the Christmas season. Granted, by the end of Christmas break (yes, it’s January 6th, but my kids haven’t been back to school yet) my “thoughts and ponderings” have been boiled down to bullet points. No deep philosophical quotes are being conjured up here. Even that last sentence took longer to write than I’d like to admit. But regardless, I like to summarize what I’ve observed during the month of December.

And so, I give you:

17 Things I Learned During the Christmas Season of 2017

  1. If you’re losing to your son in a game of Checkers while on a date with him at Cracker Barrel, you can get out of the loss by claiming probable victory when your food arrives before he takes your last piece.

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  1. Just because the candy/icing/sprinkles say they are edible doesn’t necessarily mean they should be eaten.

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  1. You are never without holiday entertainment when you have two daughters ages seven and nine. Show times and themes vary.

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  1. If you invite a group of fifth graders over to your house for a Christmas party, you might as well take the mistletoe down before they arrive. The shrieking, pointing, and giggles will be quite disruptive until you do.
  1. Handmade cards with misspellings are my favorite. (Unless they’re from my husband. He should be able to spell correctly by now.)

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  1. If, due to sickness in the family, you all binge watch an entire season of a Hallmark show in a matter of two days, the sappiness in the acting and script may in fact lead to more feelings of illness.
  1. Sometimes your husband gives you three flashlights in your stocking with no explanation. Go with it.

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  1. Children love to shop at the school “Holiday Shop” and surprise their parents with “real gifts” on Christmas morning. They also like to hide said gifts in their shirts.

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  1. Pretzel rods dipped in chocolate > pretzel rods. This should really go without saying.

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  1. Eaves dropping on two sisters playing a strategy game at the table is well worth your time.

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  1. Store bought cut-out cookies don’t taste as good as homemade sugar cookies. However, the fact you don’t have to make them from scratch brings their taste level up to “rather delicious.”

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  1. You’re never too big to sit on Santa’s lap.

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  1. There’s something hopeful and fresh about the blank page of a calendar.

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  1. Candlelight services are beautiful and meaningful. Hot wax that drips from said candle onto your youngest child’s hand causing weeping during Silent Night seems to steal a bit of sanctity from the moment.
  1. When you are used to calling your son’s basketball compression shorts his “special undies,” and you need to take some back to the store and exchange them for another size, don’t ask the male sales clerk if he has “special undies.” Instead, stare at him for an uncomfortably long amount of time while trying to think of the words “compression shorts.”
  1. There’s nothing that will put a spring in your step quite like when you’re in what is literally the world’s largest high school fieldhouse and you’re sitting three rows from the bottom and have at least 50 steps to climb to get to the restroom, and your youngest child looks you in the eye and says, “I think I’m going to throw up.”
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  1. Sharing with groups of women during the Christmas season about the “Light of the World,” Jesus, and why you have chosen to live in His light instead of darkness is quite possibly as special as it gets.

 

15 Things I Learned from the Christmas Season of 2015.

It has become a personal tradition. My own “end of the season” clearance. Much like my smartphone alerts me when its storage is almost full and I must delete some files to ease use, my own brain feels the need to move some information out of my head and onto the page. So I make a list of thoughts and moments I want to remember from that Christmas season, and I put them down here. I enjoy reading back over the memories in the years to come, and the additional space I gain in my brain for new storage is also much appreciated.

I’ve downloaded my thoughts and the rendering of the list for this year is complete. Enjoy!

15 Things I Learned from Christmas Season 2015

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15. Any day you can wear your slippers the entire day, even to a friend’s house and back, is a good day.

 

14. My son can make a clock out of potatoes and wires, control my computer mouse with some foil and wires, and make his mother feel stupid all in one afternoon.



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13. All chapstick is not created equal.

 

12. Pictionary is a challenging game, and even more so when someone (I won’t name any names) accidently buys you the Italian version of the game. My parents (I won’t name any names) claim it’s not what they ordered off the internet.

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11. The amount of retail emails containing coupons and shopping incentives I received during the month of December = approximately 1,094,469,395. The number of email coupons and shopping incentives I actually used during the month of December = 2.

 

10. When your daughters go by the “open it, wear it” gift motto, your Christmas morning may begin to resemble the swimming suit portion of the Miss America pageant when suddenly they are both donning only a bathing suit and heeled boots.

 

9. Even though a child runs his mittened hand over a moist railing in the flamingo habitat at a public zoo and then proceeds to suck the said moisture out of his mitten doesn’t necessarily mean this child while become ill. However, this same statement cannot be said of any mother who happens to witness this moment.

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8. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” is an extremely confusing song to a five-year-old.

 

7. The number of times my husband has said, “If no one is in the basement, then someone needs to run down there and turn the lights off” > The number of times I’ve heard “White Christmas” on the radio.

 

6. Shaking the strand of lights violently doesn’t necessarily help it to function properly. It does however make you feel better.

 

5. Gift giving is easy when it comes to fifth grade boys.

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4. The hand soap called “Winter Frost” by Dial smells exactly like my husband’s Speed Stick deodorant.

 

3. If you give first graders free reign of the icing and sprinkles while leading the “decorate a sugar cookie” station at a party, you will be taken seriously. Then you send the kids home to their parents.

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2. It is incredibly difficult to motivate yourself to do anything productive when it requires first kicking two children dressed in footie pajamas off of your lap.

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  1. Hearing your children sing in the Christmas Children’s Choir at church and watching them express the joy and hope of the season brings tears to your eyes and warmth to your heart.

14 Things I Learned During the Christmas Season of 2014.

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In keeping with my own tradition the past couple of years, I thought I’d sit here in my pjs and slippers (that I waited to put back on until 3:30 this afternoon) on this last Sunday of “Christmas Break” and share:

14 Things I’ve Learned during the Christmas season of 2014. 

14. If your Kindergartener puts homemade “reindeer food” on the front porch on Christmas Eve, she in turn expects that on Christmas morning this special recipe of marshmallows, pretzels, carrots, M & M’s, and chocolate chips will be gone/eaten. If you happen to forget to remove the said “reindeer food” while the said Kindergartner is sleeping, then you must stall your three children at the top of the steps and go “check” to make sure that it’s “safe” to go outside to the front porch. You then must shove very soggy marshmallows, pretzels, carrots, what used to be M & M’s, and waxy chocolate into your pockets.DSC_0552

13. Wet marshmallows are sticky.

12. Barbie MEGAblocks are not MEGA. According to the dictionary, “MEGA” means, “very large” or “huge.” If by huge they mean “half the size of your preschooler’s fingernail,” then MEGAblocks is an appropriate name for the Barbie MEGAblocks sets.

11. If the box containing the unassembled Barbie MEGAblocks swimming pool claims that the pool can be built by a 4-8 year-old, then these children must be in the MENSA program and/or are already construction engineers.

10. I am not a construction engineer.

9. My 4-year-old is not in MENSA.DSC_0538

8. If your sister-in-law has a December birthday you celebrate at Christmas and she mentions that she’d always wanted a “Doll Dress” cake when she was a girl, you give the woman a Doll Dress cake by sticking a Barbie in the Baked Alaska cake your mother-in-law made. You’re never too old for a Barbie cake. (Aluminum foil may be required to keep the cake G Rated.)DSC_0460

7. It’s best to be slow to speak and quick to listen as your child questions you on the validity of Santa Claus. The standard, “Well, what do you think?” reply works well.

6. The standard, “Well, what do you think?” reply does NOT work well with your husband when he is asking you what size of clothing he should purchase for you for Christmas.

5. It’s very easy to find something fun to buy for ten-year-old boys. DSC_0486

4. It’s very difficult to find something fun to buy for forty-year-old boys.

3. When your little one says she knows the Santa at the mall is just someone dressed up, just be quiet for a couple of beats because she may just follow that statement up with, “Because I know the REAL Santa is still in the North Pole.”

2. Three kids and seven hours of baking makes for A LOT of goodies and a very sore lower back. (And, you can get ALMOST anything to stick to a pretzel rod you’ve dipped in melted chocolate.)

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1. The Christmas season can be full of anticipation and joy. The best gift of all is anticipating the joy that can be ours because of that perfect baby, Jesus, who we celebrate all year long!

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Here’s to a great 2015!

 

 

13 Things I Learned During the Christmas Season of 2013.

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The cookie tray is down to a few sugar cookies that could possibly break your teeth. There are also a variety of rogue sprinkles on the tray reminding me of all that’s been created and enjoyed. It feels to me like the Christmas season has gone by extra fast this year. I love Christmas and I’m sad to see it go, but I spent some time reflecting today on all we’ve done and what I’ve learned these past 4 weeks. And so I give you, my second annual post-Christmas ponderings.

13 Things I Learned During the Christmas Season of 2013:

13. You can never have too many sprinkles or too much icing on a sugar cookie.

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12. If you take your observant five-year-old daughter to the Nutcracker to see her first ballet, you may need to be prepared to do a quick anatomy lesson after seeing a man in tights. Of course this is depending on how well the Sugar Plum Fairy does at staying directly between your daughter and the said man in tights. But let’s face it, ballerinas spin around a lot. What can you do?

11. I might have a green thumb after all. I actually kept the amaryllis that my sister-in-law gave me alive over Christmas, and it actually bloomed. It’s a Christmas miracle.

10. WDSC_0717hat’s the deal with these colorful rubber-band bracelets?! We were a little “late to this party” because our nine-year-old has been claiming for awhile that these bracelets are silly because they are just little rubber bands hooked together. But then suddenly, he changed his tune and he wanted a loom for Christmas so that he could make these bracelets. This requires finding 887 tiny rubber bands all over your house as well as seeing enough rubber bracelets on your child’s arms that I’m pretty sure he’d be buoyant in a pool of water, even while wearing his snow boots.

9. Peanut Butter Balls, Buckeyes, call them what you will, but I could not stop eating them. And if you made me ones with crunchy peanut butter that was absolutely irresistible, you are forbidden to ever make me those again because I can’t say no to them and I’ll eat myself sick. (You know who you are.)

8. Costco doesn’t take credit cards and if you dare to try to pay with a Debit Card and you don’t remember your pin number, well then, you’re OUT OF LUCK! Even if you’ve been shopping with one of your children for over an hour and have a heaping cart full of food and gifts your cart will be whisked away in Seinfield Soup Nazi fashion (‘No Groceries For You!’) and you will leave the store with nothing but the feeling of utter defeat. And though one of you will want to go home and pout, your child will encourage you to go to another store and buy everything on the list… again.

7. Christmas song lyrics are sometimes confusing to small children, but this does not stop small children from singing Christmas songs with “amended” lyrics. For instance, my three-year-old continues to belt out her version of a verse from Joy to the World with these words, “He rules the world with tooth and gum.” 9 out of 10 dentists agree.

6.DSC_0701 If you have two daughters that love clothes and those two daughters have two baby dolls that receive doll outfits that match your daughter’s clothes, then you will spend approximately 64% of your Christmas day changing a plastic dolls clothing and shoes as well as helping your actual child change clothes. Again. And again.

5. If you’re playing a game of “Steal the Gift BINGO” with your family members and you want your little brother to take the gift you opened, a measly 99¢, so that you can snag the more valuable $5 McDonald’s gift card,  you can present the less valuable 99¢ as a “free iphone app” and your little brother will go for it. Well played, Kordy.

4. If your Carbon Monoxide Detector starts beeping and says you need to seek fresh air immediately, you’d better do so as well as call 911. When you do so, the nice firemen will come in their huge firetruck and will help you. And even if you’re miles away in a store when this happens and your husband calls you and tells you what is going on, you may begin to feel symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning… until your husband calls you and tells you it was just a faulty detector and everything is fine. And then you feel better.

3. It doesn’t matter if I’ve checked my list twice or twenty times, at least 2 Christmas cards that I mail will come back to me due to a wrong address.

2.If you’re at a bowling alley with your family and friends and your bowling ball gets stuck in the ball return and if the guy who comes over to help you happens to bring up the fact that he recently took a bullet to the elbow (because this naturally ties in with losing your bowling ball) and he asks you if you want to see the wound, it really doesn’t matter what your answer is or the fact that there are small children all around, he’s gonna roll up his sleeve. I’m just saying.

1. Having the privilege to teach a group of preschoolers at church (including my own daughters) all about the true story of Christmas is simply the best. And even though we had a little confusion about the angel’s name being Gary instead of Gabriel and the Wise Men bringing Frankenstein to baby Jesus, I think I got the main idea across to their sweet little hearts. There’s just nothing better than watching their eyes grow large as we talked about the best Christmas gift EVER being Jesus. It just doesn’t get any better than that.DSC_0703

Socks…Really?!

DSC_0744This is the time of year when children rip into presents with eager joy and anticipation.

It’s also the time of year when we see a particular phenomenon occur during these times of gift opening.

You’ve seen it.

The child, with tongue pressed to their upper lip and eyes wide open, lifts the lid of a box and pulls out… socks. Then the child, whose valuable time has clearly been wasted, swiftly lifts the socks and drops them onto the floor in one smooth and rapid motion while already reaching for another wrapped box, which they hope contains something they actually want.

I mean seriously, what kid is thrilled to get socks for Christmas?

But goodness knows they need them.

Take my son for example. I’m not sure how he does it, but he can wear a pair of new socks a few times and suddenly they have holes on the bottom of them so large that at that point they are really more a pair of leg warmers instead of actual socks. How does this happen so quickly? I don’t understand. But after cleaning out Karson’s sock drawer recently and throwing away enough holey socks to poorly cloth half his elementary school’s feet, I decided we’re buying him socks for Christmas.

A lot of socks.

I’m the parent here and I know what my kid needs. But, I’m embarrassed to tell you that the sock situation around here has gotten so ugly that Karson actually asked for socks for Christmas. Yeah, it’s that bad.

But regardless, I do know what my kids need. And sometimes my husband and I give them things that they don’t want. Take punishment, chores and non-flavored children’s Tylenol for example. But, we know what’s good for them and we do it all out of love. Even the socks.

As Christians, sometimes we give our “wish list” to God through prayer. We have specific wants and needs and with wide eyes and eager hands we wait for Him to come through granting each of our requests.

But sometimes we get socks.

Sometimes the circumstances of my life are not what I had in mind. I think, “Lord, I think you misunderstood. This isn’t what I wanted. Did you check my list twice?”

But He knows. He’s the parent here. He’s my Heavenly Father and he knows exactly what I need.

Matthew 6:25-34 talks about this. Jesus is telling us to stop worrying about what we will eat, drink and wear because our Father will take of us. He says,

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Our end of this deal is pretty simple. Not easy, but simple. We are to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Our focus is to be on Christ and honoring Him with our life. And we should trust Him for the rest. He says, “and all these things (meaning the things we need) will be added to us as well.”

We can trust God to take care of us and to give us what we need. And He delights in often giving us what we want as well. He’s such a loving and trustworthy Father.

So as I watch my son open his socks this year I’m going to smile inside thinking about how my Heavenly Father knows what I need too.

Socks may not be very thrilling, but sometimes it’s necessary to give and receive them.

Don’t even get me started on underwear.

10 Things I Learned Over Christmas Break

10. Injuries are well worth the pain if they warrant a Barbie band-aid.

9. Flaming desserts are actually on fire and four-year-olds should be advised not to touch them until they are no longer on fire. (However, if injury ensues, see #10)

8. Santa really enjoys homemade chocolate chip cookies, especially since Mrs. Claus has been keeping them quite scarce around the house lately.

7. It’s really easy to guess what one of your gifts will be when you smell a nice fragrance wafting from the area where your husband wrapped a leaking bottle of new perfume.

6. Having a house full of family and friends is just plain fun. Getting snow after everyone has arrived and is settled in makes it even better. Having a Keurig coffeemaker is the icing on the cake.

5.  The longer children have been stuck playing together in the basement the stranger the things that can be heard uttered from their parent’s mouth. For example:  statements like, “No, you may not stick that Lincoln Log in your sister’s crack.”

4. Trying to guess what your preschooler has drawn in a game of “Win, Lose or Draw” is very difficult and although it may look like a jellyfish every time, the correct answer is apparently never jellyfish.

3. Watching your pigtailed two-year-old sing “Away In A Manger,” complete with hand motions, will melt your heart.

2. When you look out the window and see your son playing in the snow… with a plunger… it’s best just to walk away and pretend that you never looked in the first place.

1. Experiencing the joy and wonder of Jesus’ birth through the eyes of your children is a precious Christmas gift.

The Cattle Weren’t Lowing…But We Got the Point.

I’ve had several people tell me in the last few weeks how our children are at the “prime age” for Christmas. It’s true. Having three wide-eyed kids 7 and under makes for a very special Christmas season.

I have been trying to soak in all of the festive moments-and we’ve crammed quite a few into December already! We’ve put up the tree, hung the stockings, decorated cookies, shopped, wrapped gifts, seen Santa three times, attended family gatherings and have plans to go ice skating. Whew, no wonder I’m tired.

As much as I’ve enjoyed all of these activities I, like many other parents, want to make sure my children have perspective about what Christmas really means. Don’t get me wrong. I not only want our kids to participate in all of the previous mentioned activities, I want them to enjoy them to the hilt! However, Kraig and I want our kids to know why we do what we do. We want them to “party like it’s Christmas!” but also know who the party is for.

So we tried something. It wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had, but I also don’t think it was the worst. You see, I wanted our kids to “feel” what the first Christmas might have felt like. No-we didn’t fly them to Israel, speak Aramaic or even sit them on a mule. But we did go to a barn.

We have some friends who have some outbuildings and barns not far from where we live. We asked if we could “borrow” their barn last Friday evening for a little while. They happily agreed, especially after I informed them that we would use LED candles and not real flame and do our best to avoid burning the place down. We were told that one barn in particular had two calves in it. That would be perfect.

We sat the kids down at home that evening before we left and explained to them what we were going to do. We reminded them of the passage in Luke chapter 2 that explains that there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn and so they used a stable, or barn, the night that Jesus was born. Jesus… the reason for this month-long party! That’s the way the kids seem to see it. That’s the way we want them to see it. They seem to understand that all of the cookie making, ornament gluing and present buying is fine–good even–because it’s all a part of the party that celebrates the birth of baby Jesus. (Let me put a disclaimer here that our older two children seem to get this. Our one-year-old still seems a bit foggy on the whole concept… but give her a candy cane and she’s good to go!)

Anyway, we told the kids that we wanted to try to see what it might have felt like on that first Christmas. We told them that basically we wanted to make them uncomfortable. I know, aren’t we great parents?! We reiterated that all of the parties and fun are fine, but that sometimes it’s good to feel uncomfortable. Maybe it helps us understand how uncomfortable God must have felt trying to fit inside that tiny baby.

We got to the barn just as it was getting dark outside. I gave each of the kids a little fake candle that they held and with which they were quite intrigued. We went into the barn where the calves were. And I mean were. They took one look at us and got out of there into their fenced in outdoor area. They wanted nothing to do with us and they wouldn’t even make a peep (or moo.) I was hoping for a little ambiance out of them but apparently they haven’t ever sung “Away in Manger.” Oh well.

Nonetheless we five stood freezing in the barn. We took a baby doll that I wrapped in cloth and laid on the floor in the straw (no manger that we could find!) Then we had the kids help us tell the Bible story from Luke 2. We sang “Happy Birthday” to Jesus and prayed together. We also had asked the older two kids to take a gift with them to present to baby Jesus. Karson, our oldest, had written a note to God. To: God, From: Karson, it read. I love you God! (with a big red heart he’d colored.) Karson read it out loud. Pretty precious.

Karly, our three-year-old, had a gift that was less on the heartfelt side and more on the practical. A Santa hat. The baby’s head might be cold. 🙂

Yes, we had a fussy toddler who wanted her pacifier and was obsessed with the little switch on the bottom of her candle. Karson and Karly argued about who got to stand where and everyone was hungry and looking forward to our next stop, Pizza Hut. However, even with the noisy children and quiet cows it was still special. Not perfect, but special.

I don’t think it blew the kids’ minds or will be one of their favorite memories of the season, but I do think it planted a seed. Hopefully it’s a seed we can water in the years to come as we remind the kids each year for whom we have this great month-long party.

Memories in a barn. Not perfect, but a good attempt. We knew it was time to go when Karly said, “Let’s get out of here! It smells stinky!” Yes, we made them uncomfortable for a short time. I think we made the cows uncomfortable too. But it reminded me that God made Himself uncomfortable for me. And lowing cattle or not…I’m eternally grateful for that baby in the manger.