A Different Kind of Christmas

This Christmas has been interesting for me. Superman and I decided to take the family on a trip for Christmas. Superman, Mary Claire, Tyler, Adam, Thomas, Nanny and I will be hopping on a plane and traveling for Christmas. It is a once in a lifetime experience. Because of this amazing trip, we explained that there would be no gift exchanging. This trip will be the gift.  

 This is the extent of my decorating. No tree. No swags. No outside lights. 

  There have been no Reindeer cookies like these from the Budding Baketress. I have made batches of these for 23 years, until this year.
Every year I would joyfully buy presents for everyone I knew. I would carefully wrap each one. In our house, Santa would wrap each child’s presents in their own paper. I loved picking out three different papers. This year there are no colorful papers, ribbons, or bows. 

 I miss having the memories flood over me as I unwrapped the ornaments to decorate the tree. I secretly long for my first cup of coffee in the dark morning to be had in the glow of the tree. 

This past Sunday, sitting in church, as I sang along I began to cry. I’m not sure why. Maybe I was feeling a bit lost. Maybe I was feeling sorry for myself because of some perceived thought that I was missing Christmas. But as I continued to listen to not only the words of the songs, but the message from our pastor, I realized what I was truly missing was Jesus. For whatever reason, I have put aside my daily devotions and prayers. I miss the connection to God. The memories and feelings I associate with Christmas’ in the past, are filled with joy, love and giving. There was excitement with a house of three young children. Yes, one child is married, one is in college and the other is working and attending high school. We are out of the pink aisle and truck section of Toys-R-Us, but I still have the opportunity to experience that Christmas joy, love and giving! When I realized this, I cried for joy.  

  The look of Christmas is different this year. Instead of giving for my small children, I created gifts for the small children in my life. Little boys will have dinosaur tails to attach to their waists, so they can roar and pretend to be a T-Rex or a triceratops. 

 I watch two sweet little girls squeal with delight over a restaurant kit I made them. The kit included menus, tickets to write the orders and hand sewn aprons. I got so much joy out of making these gifts for the small ones in my life.

I accompanied a sick five year old boy to receive gifts given to him by the area postal service carriers. I wrapped gifts for a little girl whose father is in jail right now. I’m going to decorate wreathes with ladies living in a homeless shelter tomorrow night. 

In a couple of days I’m boarding a plane to spend nine days with my most favorite people in the world! This year’s Christmas looks a bit different, but yet it will still be the same. Instead of reindeer cookies, we’ll be eating Strufolli and biscotti. Instead of having a big ol cup of coffee by my Christams tree, I’ll be sipping esspresso in the village cafe. The gifts won’t be wrapped in holiday paper. The gifts will come in hugs, kisses, laughter and in making amazing memories. I cherish our Christmas’ of the past and I look forward to new and changinging seasons to come.

My pastor, Richard, just needed to remind me of the real meaning of “Awesome”. It’s not in artificial colored lights, but in the one true light who came to earth, lived among us, died for our sins and has given us an everlasting hope. Awesome is not in cut n’bake cookies, but in the sweetest tasting bread and wine of life. Awesome is not found at Toys R’ Us, but in the love given to us by a holy and AWESOME God! 

Merry Christmas!  


Three Gifts of Tradition

This week’s Joy Dare Challenge prompt is to name three gifts of tradition. This one is easy.

20131120-194512.jpg447. Thanksgiving Hoo-Ha. Superman and I have been hosting 30 or so family and friends for A Thanksgiving Hoo-Ha Weekend. My family comes from all over the country. Now most of my friends gasp at the idea of hosting that many people for a whole weekend, but the Higgins family LOVE it! Last year, Mary Claire brought two exchange students from Ghana. It was so much fun to share our holiday traditions with them and watch them experience so many firsts.

20131120-194759.jpg448. Thanksgiving feast. To keep it easy and because I only have a single oven, I order two or three turkeys from a local restaurant. My mother-in-law brings her famous pound cake, cornbread dressing (for the southerns in the crowd), and broccoli casserole. I will finish the menu out with sweet potato casserole with pecans on one half and marshmallows on the other, mashed potatoes, green beans, glazed carrots, macaroni-n-cheese, deviled eggs, fresh fruit salad, and dinner rolls. My sisters and nieces will add their favorite pies and desserts. Yum! It’s the same every year…easy.

20131120-195541.jpg449. Space to eat. People can eat in the dining room, kitchen, den, downstairs or on a pretty day, outside. There’s plenty of room.

20131120-195820.jpg450. Bocci Ball. Our tummies are full and we all need some fresh air. We have been blessed with beautiful weather for six years, so we head out to the front yard for a big bocci ball tournament. Everyone participates, whether you are six years old or 83!

20131120-200514.jpgPlayers put money in the pot and teams are formed by names drawn from a hat. Scores are kept. Measurements are taken and one team will prevail taking home the winnings!

20131120-201343.jpg451. Trivial Pursuit. This tradition has been going on for about 25 years. In the first 20 years, the girls dominated. Then these same sweet girls married some really smart men. One year my uncle from N.J. couldn’t make it to the Hoo-Ha, but we were sure to include him by calling him for a “Call-a-Friend” during Trivial Pursuit. We’ve added more current questions, much to the chagrin of my mom….she likes the old school topics.

20131120-203331.jpg452. Skeet Shoot.To avoid the Black Friday shoppers, we head to the farm for a good ol’ skeet shoot. Superman gives a safety briefing, so no one gets hurt.




20131120-204332.jpg453. Paintball. The guys and some very brave girls battle it out on the paintball fields. Aaron brings his ghetto sweatpants from Pittsburg, which are worn only on this one day of the year. Superman wears his “Mess with me, You mess with the whole trailer park” t-shirt. This is a quality group.

20131120-205009.jpg454. The Ottoman. Another fine tradition in this family is putting the boyfriend/fiancé on the ottoman in the middle of the room with the entire group circled around. Every single person has the opportunity to ask this new friend a question. It’s all in good fun, with no malice intended. We just want to see if this new dude is up for the task of putting up with us hooligans. Unfortunately, the newest fiancé won’t be able to make it this thanksgiving. No worries….it’s ok, we’ll get him next time.

20131120-205438.jpg455. Football. We bring out the Mexican dips, buffalo wings and other noshing foods and watch us some football. Go Team! That’s me doing a little cheer! (Such a dork.)

20131120-210419.jpg456. My family. I am so thankful that this group of funny, loving, beautiful people.
What are some of your Thanksgiving traditions? Thanks for dropping by!