Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas in Limbo

This Christmas has had an interesting array of challenges.  I did not want to take away every tradition from our past life, nor did I want to get stuck in the unhealthy thoughts that come with dwelling in the past.  I have no idea what next Christmas will look like, so I did not want to start a bunch of new traditions either.  Therefore, this was a Christmas in limbo.  We put up our tree and decorated pre-Thanksgiving, and there is a good chance it will all stay up until Valentine's Day.

Praying over the boxes.
We did keep one tradition and tweaked another.  The kiddos and I hosted an Operation Christmas Child Packing Party...we called it a Pizza, Popcorn, and Pepsi Packing Party.  We invited some of our friends with older kids to come over and contribute to the packing pile.  We divided up the list of needs and shopped as families, then we came together and had an assembly line of packing.  Together, we packed over 15 boxes.  After the boxes were made, we prayed together over them, then we had a time of fellowship.  In the past, our little family has adopted a family via Angel Tree to provide gifts for.  This year, we had the opportunity to come together with our Connect Group to sponsor a family.  Again, the individual families divided the list and took on the shopping.  Then, we all came together for a meal, for fellowship, then to wrap the gifts we had accumulated for six sweet children.  In moments like these, I feel like I am apart of something so big...I wonder if it is an inkling of what the church in Acts felt like.  And, in these moments, I am showing my children what it means to be a Christian.  I am modeling that actions need to accompany our words.  Thanks to our friends and family, I am able to teach them about community and how vital it is to serve together and how rewarding it is to serve others.
The Packing Party Crew
  
We were also able to squeeze in some bonus Christmas magic.  I was able to get a great deal at the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC.  We headed that way on a Thursday after school, spent the night in an amazing room, and had a great time on Friday playing in the water.  If you have kiddos of any age, Great Wolf Lodge is an awesome treat.  The staff was incredible, everything was extremely clean, safety was paramount everywhere, and everyone in the place was having a good time.  We officially did everything in the water park area...wave pool, splash area, slides...the whole nine.  We were exhausted but in the best way.  On our drive home that night, we made a "pit stop" at the Charlotte Motor Speedway to see the lights.  Wow!  We had so much fun, and the kids asked if we could possibly make that a new tradition...I think we just may!  And, you should know, I drove on the race track...I did not creep along, friends, I went as fast as I could handle in my Tahoe, on the bank...I was sweating and freaking out, but the kids laughed and loved it.  Completely worth the anxiety I experienced!

My AMAZING Family!
Because of my position at work, I worked on Christmas Eve.  However, it worked out well allowing Cecely and Titus to spend that time with their Dad.  Once I was off of work, I met my brother, Tim, and we picked up the kiddos and headed down to my parents' home to spend Christmas with them.  My sister, Andrea, and her husband, Matt and their little man, Lucas, all flew in from Canada on Christmas Eve.  This has been the first Christmas in YEARS where all of my siblings and their families would be celebrating under one roof.  On the drive down to Greer, Cecely and Titus asked Timothy and me to share stories of when we were growing up.  Oh, my goodness!  What a fun commute.  Timothy and I went back and forth sharing stories of our adventures and mishaps growing up.  Cecely and Titus were asking questions and wanting to see pictures.  I had such a good time remembering and retelling my awesome childhood experiences.  I was again reminded of how blessed I was to grow up the way I did, and I was encouraged to make a conscious effort to instill memory-making opportunities for Cecely and Titus for them to tell their children one day.  On Christmas Day, my other brother, Tyler, his wife Britney, and their baby boy Jameson also joined us at Dupree Manor (what we call my parents' home).  It was official, the four Ross kids were reunited under happy circumstances.  It was a GREAT day!  We opened gifts, talked, laughed, ate, and just soaked in the experience of being together.  Everyone spend the night on Christmas night, which I imagine was the best gift for my Mama.  The next day, my parents were kind enough to watch all four grandkids, and the rest of us headed to the movies.  The car ride to and from was full of laughter and teasing.  Again, I was overwhelmed with gratitude to belong to such an amazing family. 

Christmas Crazies
There were many other highlights and mini-adventures we have experienced during this holiday season.  I worried about my kids this year, and how different this Christmas would be from their past ones.  I overcompensated in the gift-giving realm with them, wanting them to see how much I love them.  But, you know what?  The stuff I gave them is just stuff.  One day those things won't work, will be out of date, will end up in a consignment shop or at Goodwill.  What mattered more than anything was the time we spent together.  The experiences we shared were worth more than any physical present.  The memories that were established and the stories that will be shared hold more value than any thing.  As hectic, chaotic and exhausting as the Christmas season can be, the quality time spent with the ones I love most and who love my kids and me unconditionally trumped everything else.  Remember, dear friends, stuff is temporary.  Time is an investment.  How are you investing in the lives of your kids?  Make everyday a memory-making one!



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