December 26, 2011

Just Two Days Ago...

It was only two days ago when, on the eve of Christmas, excitement and joy filled the hearts of the O'Learys (yes, I'm talking about the ones in Virginia). It wasn't Christmas presents under the tree (not for the adults at least) that brought such excitement, but the joy of celebrating the miraculous birth of a savior and the reason our hearts are soaked in love to this very day.
More than any Christmas before, I am reminded of the reason for celebrating Christmas. It's not for the gifts. It's not for the food, although there was a lot of cooking baking.
Christmas is for giving thanks and praise for God's great mercy through the birth of a savior in a manger, nothing more, nothing less.
The circumstances which brought me to this recognition, as there was no way around it, was Andrew's truck breaking down. We couldn't help but think that this time of year, being Christmas and all, was the most inopportune time for something like this to happen. We had to forego all plans of traveling to visit family and purchasing gifts for each other. Fortunately we had already purchased Meredith's gifts. We would just have to settle for staying in Virginia for the holiday, enjoying each other's company. Thank God for the way it all turned out, because we truly did celebrate Christmas the way it was intended: giving praise for the birth of Jesus. That's it. No embellishments, gift-giving parties, nor hectic traveling schedules. We had a simple, back to the basics Christmas.
I must say our hearts were somewhat saddened based on the unfortunate event causing us to miss time with our family and friends in Georgia, along with the inability to give gifts to loved ones (Andrew knows how I love giving gifts). Nevertheless, all things worked out for His good. And it is good that we were able to have a truly Christ-centered Christmas.

Christmas Eve was low-key. We lazed around the house most the day, and later I made this delicious thing:

Apple Pie in an Apple

Recipe found here. I must say mine wasn't as cute as the original, but it was absolutely delectable. You must try! Plus, the recipe is made for each individual apple, therefore if you are a family of one or two or three, it's simple to make and clean up for your family size.

As the sun set, we got in the car and headed for the candle light service at church. It was beautiful, with traditional Christmas songs telling of the birth of Jesus, voices united in song, and the soft glow of the candles on our faces. Some songs included "Away in a Manger" and "Go Tell It on the Mountain." Meredith loved the latter and wished me to sing it with her all the way home. It made me smile knowing she liked an oldie.

Later we enjoyed warmth by the stove baking cookies for you-know-who. By you-know-who, I mean Santa, which means Andrew and myself, which means Andrew and I had happy bellies that night. Smile. Meredith was excited that bedtime was put off for some awesome baking time. She loves to help pour in ingredients and clean the spoon (by that I mean licking the spoon).

And while we were baking, Mer and I began discussing Christmas and the beauty behind it. We talked about Jesus and the meaning of his name.
Mer said, "Joseph and Mary should've named Jesus something that means 'love & care' because Jesus loves and cares for us. Like when we get a hurt finger, he cares for us." I love this girl.

Later we put her to bed. After Mer finally blinked her eyes shut for the last time (numerous times she came out her room saying, "I can't sleep"), I got to the business of wrapping her gifts, repurposing some paper we had lying about the house. Close to midnight, we finally made our way to closing our eyes as well.

Christmas Day started like this:

Ahhhh....nice and clean.
Then messy:

Then messier. Only a few more presents to go...

And, finally, all done. Meredith loved her gifts and was most excited about the LeapPad and Hello Kitty makeup kit, but was grateful for all of her things. In her own words, "I can't believe I got all this stuff!" I am stunned by how much more other children get during Christmas (all we had to do was look at FB to see how much stuff children acquired Christmas morning) and how our child was grateful for her seven things. I truly believe she would've been grateful for just the LeapPad. 

After opening gifts, we had some tasty tasty breakfast...

Then headed off to church for an amazing service about honor. Later we enjoyed time at the park, on the couch, and lazily hanging about the house. 

Now that Christmas is over, and now that I've written the longest post ever in my blogger history (sorry!), we wish you had a very (see below) with love and warmth in your hearts.

See you next year!

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