As We Walk Along the Road December/Christmas Wrap Up

Christmas has come and gone. I'm sitting in the kitchen, listening to football on television and family members playing board games. I'm surrounded by more mess than I usually tolerate: open presents under the tree, candy from stockings spilling out, cardboard trash from opened boxes. I'm reflecting on the last few weeks.

It's been a little while since I posted a weekly wrap up. The month has been a whirl of things happening and emotions experienced. In living it, it sometimes seemed to drag on; but in looking back, I'm not sure where December went. I thought about not writing a wrap up of any sort and just heading into January with new goals and a new outlook. But, I think that to move forward, sometimes we have to reflect on what passed. So, here's an update for As We Walk Along the Road readers.

Homeschool and family life weekly wrap up

One of my favorite things about the Christmas season has become volunteering at Operation Christmas Child. We have always packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. These are sent all over the world to share God's love with children who might never get another Christmas gift. It's an awesome thing to do every holiday season. When the older kids began hitting age thirteen and older, they could be volunteers in the Operation Christmas Child processing center near us. I went along to help, and a new tradition was born.

This year I went twice. The first time was with Kathryne to volunteer along with her homeschool co-op group. We inspected boxes and prepared them to be places in cartons. Charles didn't get to go this time because he isn't in the co-op.

Working at Operation Christmas Child

The second time I went with Charles. Kathryne was scheduled to go as well, but she didn't feel well. Charles and I spent most of our volunteer shift helping put boxes into cartons for shipping.

Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes

In the first few weeks of December, my computer died. We had been planning for buying a new one eventually because I had finally decided to get a Mac. We had to step up our timing a little, and I ordered my new Mac air. I was very nervous about becoming an Apple person. I've always been a Windows person. But...I've always loved my iPhone, so I was hopeful. Jason had been trying to talk me into a Mac for years. So...I took the leap.

I'm sold. I wish I'd never waited. There was a small learning curve, and there are a few things I'm still figuring out, but it is so very intuitive that it's easy to pick up. I love it! Just a note- If you have the opportunity to go Apple, and you're reluctant, just do it!

Brand new Mac Air

As I wrote in the last update that I did post, we had plans to move with my mom to a house where we could live together so she wouldn't be alone as she's been since my dad passed away this summer. We had the house and were making preparations. The first part of the month, my house looked liked this.

Moving boxes
I was holding off on putting up a tree and on doing many of our annual Christmas traditions. And I was getting a little stressed living with boxes.

Unfortunately my mom and I had some issues that we were unable to resolve. There were some hurtful events. And, ultimately, the moving plans were cancelled.

It was a little difficult at that point to feel like Christmas. It's the first year since my dad's death, and the events with my mom left me reeling. On top of that and from a practical standpoint, we had a house partially packed up and no Christmas traditions in the works.

The kids were great. Everyone in the family rallied around. We unpacked boxes like crazy. We got the tree up, and we made Christmas plans.

Christmas tree decorating

We had our annual gingerbread house making. Kathryne and Ashlyne paired up to do a house, and Charles and Rachel paired up.

Gingerbread houses

The groups took quite different approaches to their building. Charles and Rachel ended up with a traditional house. Ashlyne and Kathryne chose to build a monument and state park (because their house broke). Both groups had fun.

Gingerbread house building

We also had friends over for our annual graham cracker "gingerbread" houses. We started this tradition quite a few years ago but have had different groups of friends over for the fun. I really think that the main thing the kids enjoy about this is eating all the candy we use for decorations.

Graham cracker gingerbread houses

Rachel had the most detailed graham house. She made individual rooms with candy furniture and accessories. I truly think the child will be a designer of some sort.

Graham cracker gingerbread houses

We had one more treat making day, making sugar cookies and other goodies with my sister and great-nephew and niece. This "cookie day" has been a tradition since my oldest niece and nephews were small- about twenty five/six years. It's morphed over the years as kids have been added and have grown up. But it's still a tradition we all love.

Making sugar cookies

Last, but not least, there's the fun of present opening we've had over the last few days. We did go to my mom's to take a gift for her, but things are still rocky there. We had four days in a row of gift giving, scattered between with a beautiful Christmas Eve service at church and getting together with friends and family.

Opening Christmas gifts

And so here we are. We're through Christmas and looking forward to one more week off of school. (I'm also looking forward to cleaning up all these toys and presents soon!) I know there are relationships that will be difficult right now. I'm hopeful that we can work on these as we head into the New Year.  But there have also been a few things that have really given me joy and hope through the season.

Our immediate family- Jason, the kids, and me- have had some good times. We've acknowledged the difficult things, but we've also enjoyed the good things. There has been some of the typical sibling yammering, I admit. But, there have also been times I've seen people being really kind to each other or to Jason and me. The fact is that we live a lifestyle that is not always understood. We've chosen to live a life that doesn't involve much money or a big house or lots of extras. But it's a lifestyle we wouldn't change. The time spent with our kids and the choices we've made are things I wouldn't change. God has blessed us with a family where we can share joy and hope together.

I'm looking forward to the New Year!




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