One of our oldest and most cherished Christmas traditions is watching the movie Claymations together. It is an animated Christmas special that my dad taped years ago. We love watching the commercials for Ninja Turtles and other "90s" things inbetween the actual show--I still can't believe mullets were in STYLE....!
Another tradition we celebrate St. Lucia day. St.Lucia Day is a Swedish holiday where the oldest girl in the household (that would be me) dresses up in a white dress with a red sash, wears a wreath of candles on her head and delivers rolls and hot chocolate to family members in bed. The legend says that St. Lucia wore a wreath of candles so she was able to see when delivering food to the poor. Lacy loves this holiday so much and is always very excited. This year she had a sign on her door that said "Welcome Kelsey" and when I woke her up in the morning she said "I've been waiting for you!!" (this coming from the girl who is next to impossible to wake up for school). She even slept in her own white dress, and jumped out of bed to help me deliver.
. We have a special calender to help us countdown the days until Christmas. It has 24 pockets filled with angels, and each day someone gets to take an angel out of the pocket and stick into the "sky". The angels represent different countries around the globe and their dresses are decorated as the flag of each country. We love when we pull out an Ethiopian, American, or Swedish angel! '
/ And of course...COOKIES! We make peanut butter, chocolate chip, and sugar cookies with my mom and Swedish cookies called Rosettes with my dad. My mom has a rule where we can only eat the broken ones while we're baking, so Lacy and I have a tradition of "accidentally" smashing cookies, and then grudgingly agreeing to eat them ;)
. The things we do on Christmas Eve and Christmas day vary from year to year. This year was the first time we spent Christmas Eve at home with just our family, but it was very fun. We went to church in the morning, and than again at 5:00. Aaron was so funny...the pastor was concluding the service and he wished everyone a Merry Christmas, and Aaron yelled back "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!". Apparantly we did get the message across to him that today was Jesus' birthday!
. After the service we came home and had a big dinner, and then opened our presents from eachother. As you can imagine, it would be a little much to buy presents for all of my brothers and sisters, so instead we draw names each year and just buy for one sibling (we all give our parents gifts though).
My dad and I went to the candlelight service late at night, and it was sooo beautiful!
. The younger kids made sure to wake me up bright and early to see what Santa brought today...as tired as I was, it's was fun to see how excited they were. The best thing that Santa brought was an air hockey table for everyone!
This afternoon we went to our grandparents house to celebrate Christmas day. I think I ate almost a whole pan of my grandma's butterscotch cookies! They are my absolute favorite Christmas food. My grandpa shared a lot about his experiences in WWII and his journey with Christ today, and it was very moving. He has a way of really putting things into perspective.
I LOVE Christmas!
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Tekle is our brother forever and always, always and forever!!
Wednesday was Tekle's American finalization day. We almost missed it though! We parked in the wrong ramp and ended up frantically speed-walking around downtown until we found the justice building. The hearing was very short and sweet. The judge took pictures with everyone afterwards, and even let Tekle hit the gavel to adjourn the court.
He's stuck with us now! (Not that he wasn't before, but its exciting to be official)
A family who is waiting to bring their son and daughter home from Ethiopia is organizing a really cool project called "Yesus in the Streets". They are encouraging both adults and children to fill one gallon bags with things for people their age living on the streets of Ethiopia. They suggest that you include fun things from your own collection (toys, candy, hair stuff) and practical things (toothbrush, soap, lotion). They are also asking those who participate to include a picture of themselves holding their bag. When they deliver the bags they are going to try and get a picture of the recipient to send back to you. In each bag the family will include a card that says "Jesus cares about the orphans, the widows, and the poor. Jesus cares about you. Jesus sees you. Jesus loves you." in Amharic.
The number of homeless people living in complete poverty in Ethiopia is heartbreaking. This project gives us the opportunity to let people know that despite their circumstances, they are immeasurably valuable to God. Our family has had a lot of fun putting bags together, and I would encourage anyone who can to participate!
To read more details and see a cool video promoting the project, visit Heather's blog: http://burakaeyae.blogspot.com/
As of yesterday you have been home one full year! In some ways it seems to have gone by fast, but at the same time it's hard to imagine life before you came home. I remember the day I met you and you leaped fearlessly into my arms. I couldn't believe I was finally holding you and hugging you. It felt perfect.
Some of the best days of my life were during the week we spent in Addis Ababa together. You looked a little scared the first night you were with mom and I. You just lied in your little bed staring at the ceiling. When we asked you if you would like to come sleep in our bed, your eyes lit up and you jumped right in between us!
Do you remember how whenever I used to hug you and say "My Teketel", you would hug me right back and say "My K-ahl-see" with your sweet Amharic accent? Or the way you would have to tell me over and over again how to say the colors of the Ethiopian flag (aronguaday, bicha, kiy)?
I remember looking at all the kids at the care center and thinking to myself that God couldn't have picked a more perfect fit for our family. You are most definitely a child of destiny. It was more than a coincidence that you showed up at the care center the exact day mom was leaving to bring Aaron home from Ethiopia. She only played with you for a little bit, but your special little spirit touched her so much that she wasn't satisfied until you were safe in her arms seven months later.
This year has been full of discovery. Seeing the joy on your face as you experienced new things made me feel as though I was seeing something for the first time too. The first time you rode a bike was a day to remember. It was the middle of winter, but you insisted on going out and riding on the shoveled side walk. Months later, your precious bike fell off the rack on the back of the van. You were pretty devastated. Lucky for you, mom and dad bought you a new one only a few weeks later. Now, most little boys would immediately hop on their new bike and ride off into the sunset, but not you. Instead, you ran up to thank mom and give her a big hug (and THEN you rode off into the sunset). What an example of your pure heart.
. As you put the angel on the Christmas tree last week. I thought of how awesome it was to have you here to participate in all our Christmas traditions. It was a little hectic at this time last year with all the adjustments, so it will be fun to just relax and enjoy the season this December. .
You are amazingly intelligent, loving, and wise beyond your years. You do something to make me smile everyday. You are sweet, kind, funny, and brave (especially for sitting on Santa's lap last Friday). You are "MY Teketel". I love you sweetie!
There has been some intense debate going on in our house regarding the Christmas tree. My dad has been pushing for an artificial tree this year. He thinks it would be easier (no pine needles on the floor), and that it would be a smart one-time investment.
I on the other hand think an artificial tree would ruin Christmas.
But I am adamantly opposed to having a fake tree. It would break tradition--we have always had real trees! I love the smell of pine...it is such a classic Christmas scent. Plus I have very fond memories of crawling under the tree to water it when I was little. How could my dad even consider taking that experience away from Tekle and Aaron??