Tag Archive | Christmas

And so, this is Christmas. And what have you done?

My dogs, Max and Lulu don’t like it when we visit my parents house.  They aren’t allowed on the furniture, and at least half the time, my 3-year-old nephew G is there to pull tails and ears and steal toys, and to take all of his Aunt Cori’s attention.  But worst of all, they aren’t allowed to sleep with me in the super-comfy bed that’s one size bigger than the bed we sleep on at home.  Nights with the dogs at my parents house usually consist of me trying to convince them that their crate really is the best place for them to sleep (they don’t have a problem with the crate at my house) for at least an hour.

Last night, it was especially bad.  It seemed like they wouldn’t go down for more than a half hour at a time.  Every time I started to congratulate myself on finding how to get them down, they would start barking at me again.  Maybe they were excited about Christmas.

I guess the only way I tell that story is to offer an excuse in case for when I ramble.  I didn’t get more than four hours of sleep last night, and, if I’m going to stay awake all day to reset my body, I want to do it without chemical stimulation.  Now, if only I could come up with an excuse for the rest of my posts…

Not a good tag for Lulu to receive on Christmas Eve.

G called Mom & Dad’s house about an hour ago to tell all about Christmas morning at his house.  This kid’s been talking about Santa Claus since, well, last Christmas.  It didn’t help that one of my uncles, G’s great-uncle, told him that Santa wouldn’t come unless he learned to go poop in the potty.  G’s little three-year-old brain turned that into “Santa will only go to places where I’ve successfully pooped in the potty.”  So, random gas station in Minersville, Utah? Yep, Santa went there.  Aunt Cori’s house?  Not so much.  When G had diarrhea a week or two ago, and couldn’t quite make it to the bathroom on time, he was so distraught, not only because he made a mess in his pants, but because he thought it meant Santa wouldn’t come.

So, how did this post about Christmas turn into a discussion of my nephew’s poop?  Oh.  Right.  Back on track now.

G called about an hour ago, and was so excited to tell all about the toys and presents he got.  This is the first year he’s really been old enough to understand Christmas, or, at least understand getting presents.  However, when Mom did ask him what happens on Christmas, the first thing he said was “It’s Jesus’s birthday”, before he started to talk about his presents.

I’ve had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year.  I’m really feeling being single and unemployed. And while I think there is no greater joy than searching out the perfect gift, and seen excitement on the recipients face when they open it, my unemployment checks are half of not enough, and I wasn’t able to get the things I wanted to give this year.  When I get depressed, my thoughts get scattered, and I get frustrated easily, so making gifts was also out of the question–not to mention that it’s often times more expensive to make a gift than to buy one.

It was therefore, refreshing to talk to G this morning.  To hear his child-like joy, his excitement over the gifts he got, and, more importantly, how hard it was to keep him on topic of his presents reminded me of what I posted a few days ago.  Christmas is about children, family and sharing love with others.

And spoiling my nephews rotten.

“Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world”

Yesterday, I posted about my favorite traditional/secular Christmas.  I was thinking, though, that if I’m going to talk about my favorite Christmases, then the ones I spent on my mission deserve a special recognition.

I served an 18 month proselytising mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  My mission was called the Canada Winnipeg Mission, and it covered all of the central time zone in Canada–effectively, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and about a third of Ontario.  Technically, my mission also covered portions of Nunavut, all the way up to the North Pole, but the farthest north we had missionaries (at least while I was there) was Flin Flon.

I left for my mission on July 10, 2002, and, because transfers happen every 6 weeks, I had the choice to come home right before Christmas 2003, or at the end of January 2004.  I chose to stay ’til January, mostly because my first Christmas in the mission field was so amazing.

I spent both Christmases in Winnipeg, the first one in Transcona, the second one in St. James.  From what I saw, Christmas in Canada wasn’t that much different from the Christmases I grew up with–just colder, with more booze, and a strange pastry called butter tarts.

Where I was in Canada, most people who went to church belonged to one of two churches, either the United Church of Canada, or the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. They weren’t really interested in hearing our message, or changing their way of life.

A change came around Christmas, though.  First of all, we changed our door approach to talk more about the birth of our Saviour. (See that?  I’m talking about Canada, so I just used a Canadian/British spelling)  People were more likely to let us in their homes.

Although, this could have had something to do with it.
Although, this might have had something to do with it.

Christmas on a mission is such an amazing time.  Missionaries are already so focused on the Savior, (I’m talking about missionaries in general, so that gets an American spelling) and, despite what the cheesy shows on TV and the “Holiday” advertisements tell you, most people who celebrate Christmas do remember Christ.  To have our message well (okay, better) received, to truly focus on what Christ and what Christmas is all about is the most amazing thing.

The last two weeks of my mission, the temperature never got above -45.  We weren’t allowed outside for more than five minutes at a time, and, of course, that’s when the engine block heater on our car decided to conk out on us.  I spent the last days of my mission stuck inside the mouse-infested apartment with my two companions (fortunately, there was a family-owned grocery store across the street, so we weren’t hurting for food).  It was a very difficult time (even though I love Sister Jackson and Sister Johnson) and not a very spectacular way to end the mission.  Even so, I was glad that I stayed an extra 6 weeks, so I could spend another Christmas in the missionfield.

When I got home, and my family was so eager to have the delayed Christmas that they had planned for me, I wasn’t really all that interested in opening presents, I would have just as soon shared the love and spirit that I felt for the special time of year.

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