Now that things have settled down a bit I can reflect on our Christmas...quite possibly the sweetest we've ever had!
We spent Christmas Eve at our JV friend's, the Pitcher's - something we've been doing since 2000 when they moved here to Frydlant. Till's, Lobel's, Becca and Greg Strock were also there and it was such a wonderful time together....enjoying Andrea's food delights (always a highlight!), having great conversation, playing games, singing Christmas carols, sampling amazing desserts, and just enjoying the blessing of friendship.
I was savoring the evening more than usual since it's the last time we'll share Christmas Eve together at their house as they will be moving in June (first for a furlough to the States, and then to Prague). Thank you Ken and Andrea for hosting us all these years, and for sharing so much of life together!
At 10 PM we were in Ostrava at the "midnight" service on one of their town squares. Dave had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with the 1500 or so people who turned out for the service.
One of the things I love about Dave is how passionate, yet genuine, he is when he shares the Gospel. Afterwards the people who organized it said the crowd was unusually quiet as they listened to him share, so we pray that there were some in the crowd who understood the gift that Jesus offers, and who received it for the first time that night.
Then it was home to do all the last minute prep for Christmas Day...making a cheeseball, marinating the chicken, stuffing the stockings, wrapping the last couple of gifts. I don't know how it happens every year, even when I've done a better job at planning! But Dave and I didn't go to bed until 3 AM that night! But we definitely had a Santa sighting that night, and he was most generous to our children as he left his gifts! Ho ho ho!
It had begun to snow on Christmas Eve, but didn't look like it would amount to much. But we woke up Christmas morning to several inches of perfect snow! It made the whole world look magical!!
The kids were up early (when I came down at 8:30, Caleb was asleep on the floor next to his stocking from Santa!) but we officially started around 9 with a reading of the Christmas story, and plenty of questions from dad to the crowd...ha! He loves to ask questions and continue to keep the story fresh for us!
Then it was breakfast - my best attempt at our traditional Christmas morning food, yet "Caleb friendly"! While the cinnamon rolls were not sugar, corn, or rice free, they were gluten free! Not exactly Caleb friendly, but they tasted great (didn't look as pretty as usual but oh well! First attempts happen that way!) and only caused mild pain for Caleb. He said it was worth it!
Gifts were glorious this year...modest in price, but so very thoughtful all the way around. The kids did all their own shopping and found absolutely perfect gifts for everyone! We were slow to open gifts, just one at a time the whole way through, so everyone was savoring the gift exchange. At the end, we all said it was the best ever and felt happy, loved and satisfied. Isn't that a great way to finish Christmas?!
We did a quick clean up, put the wassail on, and welcomed Jonny and Lisa Lobel, and Mark Krupa at 2 that afternoon. They spent the rest of Christmas Day with us. We played a great game of "Loaded Questions" while sipping wassail and munching on the cheeseball in front of the fire...such a fun Christmas afternoon!
After our traditional fajita dinner we relished the delightful tastes of Jonny and Lisa's desserts - a tiramisu and chocolate chip cheesecake! YUM! Then finished up with peppermint mocha lattes...or at least we tried! The espresso machine was being a little goofy, the foamer was being even goofier, and the dark chocolate mocha mix that I'd bought turned out to be spiced with hot chilis! Whew! Those were interesting lattes!
But it was so fun to share the day together, soaking in the goodness of relationships and all the good gifts the Lord has given to each of us!
Thank you Jesus for being our best gift of all!