it's almost 1am.
presents are wrapped, and under the tree... chanel's house is clean and ready for a wonderful christmas morning and memorable christmas day. the weather was beautiful and HOT all day as we were involved in our holiday preparations... (shopping, wrapping, cleaning, cooking)...until about 5pm when storm clouds rolled in. tonight we were going to be attending the Christmas Mass at Chanel and Gary's church. Their church puts on a huge outdoor service and it begins with carols, and then there is a precession of a live nativity- Mary and Joseph with a new born baby Jesus and a donkey. Then a whole bunch of sweet little angels, all dressed in white- followed by a herd of sheep and Shepard, and finally 3 exquisite costumed wise men on camels! it is awesome. even the threatening rain clouds didn't damper the crowd and especially the kids as they watched the animals pass through. it was really cool. it drizzled a bit, but nothing too serious! it really set the stage for our very non-traditional Christmas celebration (non-traditional in the sense that we aren't doing all the things we usually do for christmas at home). Although i grew up in Utah, and so my fundamental memories of Christmas involve being cold, and snowy... our years in AZ have brought plenty warm, sunny Christmas days...but being away like this, really provides a different feel for Christmas! Helps you to realize that no matter where you are, the meaning and the reason that we celebrate is the same, no matter what. of course, it's about being with the ones you love, and we are so missing our family- katie had a new baby last week, and i am so excited to meet Bryson in real life! (i love seeing him on the webcam though!) but being able to focus on the Gift that the Lord gave all of us- his Son...is the most important thing, and the thing that brings peace, and warms you all over...makes you feel loved, and grateful. Tonight, like always on Christmas Eve, i feel that peace and love from knowing that my Savior lives; that He knows me...that He died for me. all the hoopla that accompanies Christmas tends to frustrate me, and get me down; happens every year. but then comes Christmas eve, and nothing can damper the love that i feel from a Heavenly Father that wants the best for each one of us. i have that giddy feeling of excitement, knowing the thrill of Christmas morning that my children are experiencing...such a happy thing. it's been such a cool thing to share it with another family- participate in their traditions, and see it through their eyes. i certainly got what i was wishing for this year! so grateful to be here in beautiful Australia, with my sweet family, and dear friends. i want to wish everyone....a very merry, blessed Christmas.......and a wonderful, exciting New Year: new opportunities, possibilities and a new start. i love that.
i have to share just a funny story, cause it totally cracked me up! it's the first time we'd ever attended a Catholic Mass with our kids, and of course having the service outside for this occasion made it seem just that much more different from what our LDS church-sunday-experience is like. anyway, it's been interesting for the kids to compare notes with each other on how their churches differ, and are alike as well, so religion is an on going subject between our families, as we just learn more about each other... anyway- as we are sitting there tonight, about the first 5-10 minutes or so, as the narrator was reading from the Bible about the Saviors' birth, and the choir starts singing 'Hark, the Herald Angels Sing'... Cory leans over to me and says, don't we have a story just like this in our church? ........lol. I appreciate how Christmas has a way of bridging gaps and unifying many of us in our beliefs.
i love this photo that is from the Reflections of Christ exhibit... it's a photo of the angels as they were overjoyed to declare the long-awaited birth of the Savior. if you take a minute to follow that link (i have posted the link to the exhibit before-i love it) there are 3 more photos that depict the Savior's birth, and in a very sweet way, highlight the beauty of their little family. This series of photos have been made into a book that you can pick up- i know it was available at Costco in AZ, but not sure if that is all over... here is a link to the book. i got one for Christmas!