Thursday, December 25, 2014

My Special Christmas

Ahh, Christmas. Here and gone again already, but I already have a fond place in my heart for this particular Christmas. Natalie is finally old enough to actually enjoy opening presents/the whole Christmas Experience: the Grinch, Christmas lights, staying up late on Christmas Eve, Christmas trees, love. It was so fun to share the traditions of the holiday with her and especially to teach her about the Nativity. She easily recognizes Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus, and loved watching videos about the first Christmas. We watched one on where the angel visits Mary, and Natalie was absolutely glued - it was pretty magical to watch her soak it up. I'm so grateful we can mix the fun festivities of this time of year with the extra spirit that teaching about Jesus Christ brings.

At first I wasn't looking forward to this Christmas quite as much since none of the Plumb family were really going to be together - Mom in Utah, Dad/Annie in California, Max in Austria, Sam in Nevada, and Jack/Peanut in Omaha. It felt weird to not be spending the day as I've always spent it with my parents and siblings and to be so spread out.


It was an even more wonderful Christmas than usual, I think. I have tender feelings about the day - my children were loved and taken care of by their aunts, uncles, and grandparents in Lincoln; we were blessed with gifts from family all over the country; we shared happy moments and played games and watched movies and just really, fully enjoyed the day together. Jack came up halfway through the day and it was so nice to spend time with him too, and to have my in-laws get to know him a little better. I can't adequately put into words how I feel but as I sit here with my beautiful children asleep in their beds and some calm Christmas background music, reflecting about our day, I am just feeling so grateful and loved and warm and blessed. Thank you, Poulsens, for a really special Christmas.

We got to talk to our missionary siblings near and far - first Max called from Salzburg and we became Skype experts as we figured out how to connect our sprawling family in the same video feed. Eventually Sam chimed in and we added him, making it five computers in two countries and four states, all at the same glorious time! How fun that Sam and Max could see each other and swap mission bro stats, while the rest of us could bask in our family togetherness. I called Jack in Omaha so he could be involved too - definitely a family affair.
(for the record, "Lane Johnson" was the host, haha, it's still definitely Sam in the picture)
Then we got to facetime with Makall in Montana and have another virtual family gathering, this time with the Poulsens all around the kitchen table. It was so so good to see her and catch up - I feel like we don't forget our missionaries of course, but we forget what it's like to interact with them face to face/voice to voice, and after talking to the sib mish trio I realized how much I miss it. With Aaron leaving some time this year, we'll have FOUR missionary siblings between the two of us! Lots of weekly emails : ) If he is gone by Mother's Day, we'll have to coordinate four calls from four different places with two different families, ha.

I am grateful for every gift that we received (and all the gifts that our children were given - being a parent on Christmas is like quadruple the swag!) but there are three in particular that I want to remember. The first seems simple: a Barnes and Noble gift card for Austin from my parents, but it symbolizes their support and love for my husband and our marriage and I am so glad they have embraced him into our family and know him well enough to know that books are his absolute favorite thing. I love my parents.

Second: Austin's Grandma Poulsen gave us a beautifully framed painting called "I Would Gather Thee" of a hen wrapping her wings around her chicks. Here is the artist's inspiration: On the night before Jesus was crucified, He went to the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem with His disciples. As He sat looking down on the city and people He loved, He lamented, " often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" Matthew 23:37. I love this painting and will be reminded every time I see it of the love our Savior has for us, and His desire to protect us.

different frame, but you get the picture
Third: Each Poulsen child received an authentic replica of the original Book of Mormon, with the binding and typeset that would have been as Joseph Smith had it. Mike and Suzy wrote their testimony in the front cover and reminded us of the joy and blessings that come from reading together and studying the words of this testament of Jesus Christ. It is a beautiful gift and sentiment and testimony, and it was emotional to receive and ponder. I am grateful for their love for us and the Gospel, and grateful that my husband grew up in such a Christ-centered home.

Christmas 2014 was unstressful, unhurried, and, at least for me, a little more uncommercialized than usual. I really felt the spirit this month and am looking forward to continuing to make the upcoming year focused on Christ. My heart is full of love and gratitude - Merry Christmas, indeed!

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