Today may be Christmas Eve, but for our family, it was our first Christmas as a family of four. Because of how the scheduling worked out, we celebrated Christmas today, and oh what a wonderful day it was! We celebrated with several very dear friends we met last year (we spent Thanksgiving with them then) who graciously invited us to join in their Christmas festivities. We ate *way* too much food, opened gifts, and read the Christmas story and discussed the “reason for the season.” We Skyped with many family members back home in America and chatted around the Christmas tree. Best of all, Shiloh was able to join us for the entire afternoon and evening. We have officially spent our first Christmas together as a family of four. It was absolutely lovely. Still not the same as Christmas at home, but it had a charm all its own, full of memories I will forever treasure..
This morning, I had a moment of absolute Christmas bliss, if I can call it that. Arturo was gathering the ingredients for our contributions to the Christmas Eve dinner. Shanti was awake, oohing and aahing over the Christmas gifts Arturo and I wrapped late last night. I had my favorite Christmas music queued up on iTunes and was hard at work cooking for our festivities. We hadn’t yet picked Shiloh up from the orphanage, but he was on my mind. Our tiny little Christmas tree was blinking merrily in the corner of the room. And for the first time all season, it felt like Christmas to me. It felt like the wonderful celebration of love and generosity that should characterize this time of year. My heart was overflowing with gratitude for my family, for my friends, for the many blessings God has given me, and most of all for the incredible gift of His Son, my Savior, Messiah, and friend.
Christmas away from home isn’t an easy thing. Even with the full recognition of how blessed I am in our current circumstances, I would still rather be home for the holidays than here in Eastern Europe miles away from our family and closest friends. But this season is an important one for our family, a time of transition and growth that isn’t easy for any of us but that will shape us into the tight-knit family unit we hope to become. God is doing an incredible work in our lives. I am so happy to have celebrated a “Christmas of Four.”