The kids went Christmas shopping for their family members on Saturday, and what fun it was to see what they picked out for each person and the thought they put into gifts they thought each person would like! I was impressed at their ability to focus on others, especially in the toy aisle, where there are so many temptations to shop for themselves. They were so excited to go shopping in the first place but initially talked about getting toys for themselves, so we discussed how Christmas isn't about getting presents, it is about remembering and celebrating Jesus's birth, and one way we do that is by giving gifts to each other as a way to demonstrate our love for one another. It's amazing how often I forget this and get "wrapped" up in the buying and exchanging of gifts as an obligation because that's what we do, instead of an opportunity to show love to someone.
Sunday morning, I helped with tech stuff and read part of the Advent program with two of my friends. The third candle of advent is joy, and in light of recent events, it was strangely appropriate for us to talk about joy. The Holy Spirit moved in miraculous and mysterious ways, in the advance selection of music chosen by the worship leader, in the third candle narrative, and in the pastor's sermon. If you want to hear John Shultz talk about joy in the midst of this dark season, listen here.
Sunday's advent activity was a "mystery," at least it was when I put the calendar together, but it turned out perfect; we celebrated Christmas with my mom's side of the family. Our gift exchange and gathering was a great time filled with laughter, and I got some really fun(ny) stuff. The kids had fun chasing my uncle and aunt's cats and dog around the house, and I'm thankful for my family's generosity to us and our kids-- they certainly don't have to buy gifts for our kids but they do, and of course they loved opening up their presents!
And Brandon is home. Ah. Yes. Finally.