Merry and bright!

Our wonderful Christmas was spread out over three weeks, first with my husband's family, then with just our little family the following week, and finally with my side of the family Christmas week itself. In between, we decorated sugar cookies, counted down to Advent, played with the Little People nativity set, and went on Christmas outings including a parade, train, and rides, spending lots of quality time with family members. Afterward there was more fun with a mini-vacation my mom traditionally and kindly hosts for the 10 of us; this year it was in the beautiful coastal city of Victoria where we visited museums and castles, swam and shopped and laughed together, and ate lots of delicious food.

This year, the delight was even richer than previous years with Jack being old enough to greater understand visiting family, sharing and giving, and the nativity story—and get extremely excited about the presents under various family trees. The fact that he opened Christmas presents over a period of time was perfect; he had time to play with each and truly enjoy them. The thrill on his little face as he ripped open paper and discovered new toys is already a treasured memory. Another precious memory is helping Jack pick and package gifts for a boy his age who has fewer resources than our family. After we arranged the items in the box, he walked around our home selecting various toys "for Daniel" (although I had to explain we were limited in what we could send). And thereafter, he frequently says during prayer time, "Pray for Daniel." I'm so honored that I can be Jack's mom and help instill kindness, giving, love, and other important lessons (which I pray are life-long) in his little heart.

Like in 2008, Christmas was also extra-special because of the incredible joy of our new little one on the way. Being pregnant at this time of the year makes me feel a little closer to the biblical account of Jesus' birth, as I imagine Mary being visited by the angel who announced the Messiah's conception; her growing belly; the dusty, rough ride to Bethlehem; the agony of labor; and the fresh cries of a tiny boy.

Here's hoping you enjoyed a joy-filled Christmas—and have a rich and full 2012!

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