Friday, November 30, 2012

Playtime Hospitality

It never fails...every day...sometime in the afternoon...Stacia will ask if the kids can have a snack while they play. I was prepared today with VEGAN peanut butter chocolate balls.   We are also the house the kids come into for hot chocolate and games when the weather is cold and the house where they ask for drinks while they play. I love it.....

I also love Stacia's heart to bless her friends with a tangible touch of hospitality. 

Choosing Joy!
©2012 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

25 Days

We took some time to read the entries in the Jesus stocking from last year. We all noted Jared's additions and the fact that he is now living in TX. Zander looked up and said, "25 days until he gets here."  ::sucker punch::

We've TOLD all the kids that none of the elder Gherkins are coming home this year, but obviously Zander had not processed the information accurately.  It was so sad to watch him tear up....

There is joy in this. Corinna shared it so well, "Oh the glorious sorrow of loving well."  It is glorious. I love the fact that it hurts when we aren't together. I love that our older kids love each other enough to figure out how to meet in the middle of America to reconnect. I love that our younger ones ache to see the elder ones...but I sort of hate it too. Just keeping it real.

Via Google Images

Look what I found? Ruth, my dearly departed from Misawa  friend, had one of these and she told me she bought it at Yokota's Bazaar. I've looked every time I've been to Yokota and never found a set...but I have found a place to order it online. It's DEARLY priced...but then nativities aren't real common in Japan.  I've written to see if the company has any in stock. I don't mind if I have to purchase after Christmas. I think this might complete my Kokeshi collection - maybe.

Choosing Joy!
©2012 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Betty Crocker regins from on high!

Hmm....I suspected it may be difficult; but it was harder than I expected. The kids have been waiting to decorate for Christmas; we always do this the day after Thanksgiving. We haven't. Michael hasn't been feeling well and I knew he wasn't really looking forward to decorating. The kids and I decided to do it this afternoon.  I called to be sure Michael was o.k. with us doing this tradition while he was at work. 

Nolan and Arielle organized the crew to bring in Christmas stuff. We left the majority of our Christmas decor in storage stateside. A choice I'm happy we made. 

While they lugged the stuff in, I did some final measuring. There's been quite a bit of discussion about how to get a tree into our living room this year. I've been buying  furniture lately. ::snort::  All the plans involved moving a piano or an elliptical...some involved moving them all the way upstairs. Nolan was a champ and helped me put feet to my plan. We moved this just around the corner from the living room to the dining room. I was fairly sure it would all fit. 

It's always fun to unpack the Christmas books, movies and CD's. These are Stacia's picks...Arielle promptly put on the Christmas music. Then, I suspect she began to feel the "bittersweet" of this season and she put Redneck Christmas on instead...we decorated to great Christmas classics such as, "Grandma got run over by the Reindeer," and "Mama says Santa will have to leave." 

No, it's not a new religion. Stacia found one unused clue in the advent countdown from years past. 

Unpacking THIS - Jared's Christmas stocking -  which we neglected to pack off to college was bittersweet. But I held it together like a good Third Culture Kid. 

I remember when we had 11 stockings

The Jesus stocking....I found notes in there which weren't read last year...we took a surprise trip to the states. We'll read them tonight at dinner. 

Oh-oh - there seems to be a problem...but I took the challenge. I can live with this. 

Zander likes, "Cajun Night Before Christmas"

 Unpacking memories each year is fun. This is a garland with a snowman named for each of our children. We had six children when it was given to us, but Kimberly included three extra snowmen - which are all named now.  Fun to remember friends from past assignments. (They got the lights working - shew!)

I totally let the kids do this - they were great. I didn't  offer a suggestion until the very end. Arielle was insisting they space them out and put ornaments in the back...I thought maybe she should Let.It.Go. I took the challenge.

 I have written about our tradition with photo ornaments before here.  Stacia only has TWO ornaments. I promised her we'd print out the rest before December is over. She'll keep me faithful to my promise (she's already come to see if it's time twice as I've been writing this post).

THIS was a blessing to pull out each ornament and remember....but this is where it also got hard. This is the first year that NONE of the elder Gherkins will make it home for Christmas. We simply don't have the money to fly them over or fly back this year. It has turned out to be good for several reasons, which I'm sure to blog in the near future.  Since Stacia was lacking ornaments she enjoyed unpacking the older kids' ornaments...

Bre at 6 months

Krista at 6 months

I believe Arielle was having some thoughts as she hung this ornament with CARE. 

I've written about our unique tree topper here. In a nutshell the crown of thorns is a visible reminder to us that yes, Christmas is about a baby in a manger, but ULTIMATELY it's about the gift Jesus gave us, the PURPOSE for the baby in the manger, the cross and his coming Advent in the future.

The sparkly ornament was given to me one Christmas to honor a baby we'd lost....and has come to be a special reminder to me of all the babies and loved ones we've lost.

Sweet, SWEET, Bittersweet memories...Jamin at 6 months; Zander let us know he did not appreciate us telling him he looks like Jamin...because he doesn't want to be like a brother who runs 32 miles a day! 

Unpacking this one uncorked my eyes...but it's o.k. the kids know I'll miss them when they graduate. In the blink of an eye he went from his first Christmas (11 3/4 months old) to a freshman in college! 

Nolan  - such fun, fond memories
Jamin and Nolan on Nolan's first Christmas


Stacia thought this was her - but it's Krista at 4

 Josiah began buying this for me and the kids have bought each piece 

Our Japanese nativity - I so want to find a complete one....but it's unlikely

The famous Advent countdown - we'll need to determine how to use it this year. 

Michael has me trained not to hang things from doorways, but Nolan insists this will not hit him in the head! I hope not. It's HIS fault if it does! 

Yuuki's stocking - kids insisted

The corner without the elliptical. I'd forgotten we didn't bring our BIG tree from the States. 

We outgrew the mantle and so long ago adopted the "hung on your door" tradition. 
The Girls' Room

The Boys Room - complete with keep out sign

It did all fit in the dining room. Every other year, we've had two tables in the dining will make for cramped entertaining - but it's Christmas in Japan - all Americans homes are cramped.  I'm not sure I like the all-purpose dining room look; but I may like it better than the all-purpose living room look.  Maybe I'll be able to do ministry Skypes from the Elliptical. I'll certainly be able to keep an eye on school while I work out. 

I decided it was time to make new memories - enough time reliving the old memories. I suggested we bake some Christmas goodies to enjoy while we play games or watch a Christmas movie tonight. Arielle asked for something with chocolate and peanut butter. We got busy....

"Breath of Heaven" came over the system...I was instantly back at Elmendorf AFB Chapel on Christmas Eve as Bre sang this song perfectly in front of a packed house, while Corinna Williams, great with child, walked down the aisle in character. I went to the next room and gave in to emotions for a bit while Arielle finished this. I thought I was sneaky - turns out she knew. I could tell by the look she gave me. She said she remembers that night too. And earlier that season Bre sang it to a video at the PWOC Christmas Tea.

We made No Bake Peanut Butter Bars and remembered Kristin Eastburn fondly....and because I knew I couldn't resist these, we made Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter balls...which are vegan but have the same chocolate/peanut butter oats but no butter or powdered sugar and way less chocolate. In the future I think I will create a vegan Bar like Kristin's using the Peanut Butter Ball recipe without chocolate and covering with about 1/2 the chocolate.

And so...Michael will be home soon and we'll for the family and veggie soup or the last piece of coulibiac for me. I  don't have the energy to roast veggies and make the white/garlic sauce veggie pizza I'd planned. ::snort::  We'll probably watch a new Christmas Movie, enjoy our snacks and plan for the next few weeks.

Choosing Joy!
©2012 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...