As I watch the kids' paper chain count down, now to 3 days until Christmas, I keep glancing under our tree.
It is pretty bare. Usually by this time it is overflowing with presents. Not this year. There are 2 presents the kids made for us at their activity day, 1 board game for the family, and 2 stocking stuffers for each of them - both totaling less than 5 dollars.
It's not that we aren't going to get gifts this year. We just haven't gotten gifts this year. (Ethan and I are actually not doing more than a few stocking stuffers for the two of us. We were going to get a chain saw for us, but someone from church just lent us his for the winter while he recovers from a surgery.)
In the fall, we weren't really thinking of Christmas gifts. Plus we were building and moving. In early November we were waiting for Isaac to come. The end of November held Thanksgiving and Hannah's birthday, along with our cows arriving.
Then December hit, along with our Pastor's strokes.
Ethan has spent much of the last two weeks at the hospital. When he isn't there, he is at the office preparing church services or holding youth group. When he is home, it is just long enough to do the chores and catch some sleep.
I mention all of this, that we don't have presents bought and Ethan hasn't been around this Christmas season, to say that this has actually been the most meaningful Christmas for me in a long time, maybe ever.
I obviously haven't gotten caught up in the materialism of the season, but more importantly, I have had a lot of time to reflect on the season.
Jesus came as a baby to our Earth to live, love, and eventually die on a cross to take the punishment for our sins - rising to new life to offer new life to us. What he gave wasn't wrapped up in pretty paper with a shiny bow. He gave of his time, his love, and himself to those with the greatest need ever.
I feel like this Christmas we have had an opportunity, although one we would never ask for, to give of ourselves to a family in need.
So although this year might not look like a traditional Christmas - shopping, presents piled under the tree, sitting as a family doing "Christmas" things - I believe it has looked a bit more like the reason we, as Christians, celebrate Christmas.
Although it has been hard and tiring at times, especially for Ethan, I feel I have celebrated the season as much - if not more - this year as any other year.
p.s. We still are planning on going shopping, weather permitted. Also, if you can't tell by the picture, we still have a bit more settling in to do. January will be unpacking/organize the house month for me.
p.p.s Our pastor (who's just 38 by the way) is doing well. His grim chance for surviving and at least a year of rehabilitation if he pulled through - according to the doctors - has turned into him talking, walking, making jokes, and possibly just 3 weeks of inpatient rehabilitation that will hopefully start soon. Everyone who looks at his charts says it's a miracle he's even alive.