Some wonderful friend is providing me with a humorous 12-Days-of-Christmas. We love it! The boys are racing to the door each evening trying to catch the culprit, and we're all trying to figure out what the day's gift will be. Our favorite has been the canes that were used by the 9 ladies after they'd been out dancing all night.
The 4th day brought 4 messages, one of which was a story about the candy cane miracle. In summary - a woman was complaining about not even being able to afford candy canes for her Christmas Tree during a prayer. The next few days saw an abundance of candy canes entering her home, and she realized that her prayer had been heard.
My Christmas spirit has been greatly hampered this year with workloads being light or non-existent for both Jon and me. I'm not worried about Christmas, but the next few months aren't something that I'm really looking forward to.
Friday was Jon's brother's 10th anniversary, and Jon and I got to have a niece and 3 nephews spend the night at our house. I was looking forward to it because I love these kids, but I was also a little intimidated. I don't have any girls, and I wasn't sure that I'd be able to keep Courtney entertained. I was also a bit worried about changing diapers (haven't done that for a few years) and waking up with a little one. The amazing thing to me is that the two I was the most reserved about are the two who made it the most enjoyable for me.
After dinner (who knew that cutting German pancakes, cooking sausage links and pouring juice or milk for 7 kids could be so time consuming?) Courtney and I got out my beading supplies, and we made a few bracelets. I had so much fun spending girl time! When we were wrapping up, Courtney said, "Aunt Staci, you're a lot nicer than I thought you were." I didn't quite know how to take that so I just said thank you and gave her a hug.
Jon had taken her little brother, Alden, upstairs to read him a book in an effort to get him to sleep. Friday night was Alden's first time spending a night away from both parents at the same time. He was such a good kid! Jon's story didn't quite get him to sleep, so I wrapped him up in his blanket, gave him his milk, and sat next to the Christmas tree with the other lights in the room turned off. He quietly asked me if his mom was home and said he wanted to get down. I hugged him tight, said it was time to go to sleep, and started lightly tickling his face. He finally went to sleep, and I just couldn't quit holding him. I held him there with the gentle light of the tree casting shadows on his cheeks and was overcome with the love that I felt for this little boy.
Jon finally came to get him and we put him in bed with Courtney. Much to every one's surprise, he slept all night long.
My sister-in-law, Shauna, had given Jon and I a goody bag for taking care of the kids. She included a candle, a book, a card, and ... candy canes. I didn't think about the story from my neighbor until later Saturday night, but I was reminded of the little gifts of the Christmas season: boys that brighten my home each day, a husband who truly enjoys his family, nieces who teach me that I need to work on my relationships with them, sisters-in-law who pay attention to details, and little boys who bring peace.
Of course this lead me to think of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. The next day I sat in class with my 5-yr-old primary kids, watched the sunbeams (this included Griff) all excited and dressed up for a nativity during sharing time and thought about how much I love these children. I realised that this love was small in comparison to the love that was demonstrated to each of us by our older brother and by our Heavenly Father as each of our individual needs are tended.
Thank you to all of you who've sent cards this year, called on the phone, renewed old friendships, and offered your bits of wisdom via blogs. It's made this holiday season one that I will always remember.