advent calendar, awana, baby beach, beach, birthday party, celebrate, celebrate with a twist, christian, Christmas, christmas 2017, festive, festivities, finding baby jesus hunt, games, gifts, holidays, Jesus, jesus birthday, jesus birthday party, ohana, piñata, thanksgiving, the nativity story
So this Christmas, much like every Christmas, my goal was to get the family focused more on celebrating the birth of Jesus rather than the excitement of receiving gifts or spending the most on an extravagant gift. It’s a challenge only because in my mind I envision the actual day being a nonstop celebration. Much like how the holiday season leading up to Christmas is with all of the parties to attend and activities to participate in. The only problem with my vision is, who celebrates their birthday for a nonstop 24 hours?
Needless to say, I am always a little disappointed. Feeling like I didn’t do enough. This year was no exception. My big Jesus birthday celebrations agenda included: a birthday party, complete with fish tacos, (because He was a fisher of men) a piñata, (because what’s a party without a piñata) games, a hunt (not sure if scavenger is a good term because there were no clues but this link has a great option to try) cake, gifts because we’d open stockings and a movie to end it all about His birth. I mean in theory, on paper, while being brainstormed, the party was going to be the Goosby event of the season, and it should be. It’s the only holiday I look forward to with so much enthusiasm. I know Easter should be the same, but it doesn’t seem to last as long as Christmas and that’s a big part of the holiday for me. I put up my decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving and take them down the day after New Years. It’s part of my holiday activities to check the water in the tree daily and tell the kids how our tree is STILL drinking water so technically it’s still alive. I feel it’s important to note that I am working on my gardening skills so we can grow a little tree because I feel somewhat conflicted about killing a tree each year, but that’s for another post.
The reality was not quite as festive filled as I planned; well, not in my mind. Breakfast started the day, prepared by my husband, thankfully. His father flew in the night before and he attended the candlelight service with us at our church. I was still sleepy and slightly intimidated to cook for him; his ex-wife had been from Bahia, Brazil and baked like a master chef winner. I don’t feel like I can cook as well as she does and I am sure his memory of her meals makes my cooking even further from desirable. So, his son made breakfast… and dinner. Well, we prepared dinner together but his son started it. After breakfast, we relaxed a while, allowing the teenage girls time to wake up naturally and join the rest of us. If you know teenagers, they can sleep until noon easily and waking them before then for anything other than school and sports is mind-numbing.
Once everyone was awake, the hunt began because no one can open stockings until baby Jesus has been born. For this to happen, I woke up at 3 am and stuffed the stockings (<– this is a great link to some awesome tips for stocking stuffing) hid baby Jesus then, of course, attempted to straighten up a little. Once Jesus has been “born” the stockings were opened. In my true fashion I accidentally put one kid’s gift in the wrong stocking and had to do an “oh wait, that’s not yours, that’s hers.” No one seemed to mind though because there were enough “good gifts” being opened. After stockings, Grandpa wanted to use some of his gifts so we were off. Our little outing took an hour or so and upon our return home, we proceeded to rest again. Well, kinda. We basically got ready for the beach but because getting our small family together has been likened to herding cats, you know it took several minutes.
Beach trips are a family normalcy which is why I almost didn’t consider it a part of the celebration but my dear husband reminded me that it was a great time because all the kids (who live at home) were there and we had sunny beach weather. It was a little chilly for me, but it is winter and I feel the temperature change – even in Hawaii. The kids played football, swam and of course, ate everything we brought in the cooler.
As sunset approached, we made our trek back to our sweet little hale (Hawaiian for home.) After showers, it was piñata time! Well, that’s what my youngest set of twins were hoping for but instead, I insisted upon dinner first.
Fish tacos were the goal but the designated meal changed to baked cod and basil pasta because I bought 2 whole cod that neither my husband nor I actually know how to filet. He massacred the first fish and basically just cut cubes out of the second. What I do know is that neither of us will be hired as a sous chef anytime soon.
Can I break right here and say that cod is a very forgiving fish full of its own buttery flavor. We barely seasoned it with the basics and a little honey, my husband remembered how I put honey on salmon and swears it is a fish tenderizer; I don’t know if I believe it’s a tenderizer, but a small amount did not throw off the flavor at all so, another win for the not sous chefs.
Dinner was yummy and the piñata was hilarious. Since my son bought the piñata at the Awana store I had to stuff it myself. I used all the different holiday treats that I have been receiving as well as some store-bought candy. I also stuffed homemade confetti in there to make it… basically messier but it was a little bit of extra festive fun.
Ideally at some point games were supposed to be introduced, but since I had to work the next morning at 7, I decided a movie of Jesus birth would be the last event of the evening. Of course, my husband and I fell asleep before the movie ended, not sure if Grandpa made it through to the end but the kids did. They always make it to the end of the movie when the parents don’t.
Having a large ohana (Hawaiian for family) is a very great blessing and I feel fortunate to have the ability to be a part of such a blessing. I also feel a great responsibility. I challenge myself to find creative and fun ways to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with the family because I believe it is essential to teach the REAL meaning of Christmas. I am sure you already know Christmas this, but “This season is crucial for the economy because around 30 percent of annual retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas” according to thebalance.com. There’s Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday… all so that you can “save” on stuff. Stuff to keep, some to give away. It can be maddening and in this culture, it’s so easy to lose focus.
I have 7 trees. I lost focus. I mean, I got distracted easily and often, but hidden in the flexibility of my attitude, God allowed my entire family to enjoy Christ’s birth day celebrated which is what my focus really was about. We spent the entire time together doing things together. Most of them were not as I planned. The advent calendar was turned over maybe only three times. Once to read the bible together, once to make gifts together and once to go caroling. We did read Matthews account of the Lords birth together, my husband helped me bake cookies and my teenage daughters and I packaged over 30 gifts of those cookies for the teachers and staff at the kid’s schools and we went caroling with the youth group at church. I will admit that some of the activities were planned knowing what was already on the schedule for the month. I mean, I plan to win you guys. I also get caught up easily. Several years ago my husband and I decided to open gifts on New Year’s Day instead of Christmas Day to support focusing on Jesus rather than material things. One of the largest material benefits has been the freedom to shop before, during and after holiday sales. There have been boxes arriving every day since Christmas; it’s so fun to have presents to wrap. Of course, some won’t arrive until the 4th so of course, nothing is perfect. Distractions…
This Christmas season is teaching me to appreciate the way things flow more and recognize how God is stretching and growing me into a more mature, patient and loving person.
With that in mind, New Year’s Day is days away. The kids will be so excited to see all the new things they have. Gifts to make the new year fun, to be stylish and practice some skills they’ve been learning. I still want to play some of the games we didn’t play on Christmas because we didn’t really have the birthday party… I mean, you notice I didn’t mention cake. We did have ice cream though not on Christmas Day… I also want us to write down our 2018 gift for Jesus. So there’s a bit more celebrating to do. It’s a harmony that I am trying to create. I want my kids to be excited for Christmas and to participate in whatever makes the season fun and festive for them and their loved ones while keeping their focus on the reason for all the fun and festivities. We are celebrating the birth of the one who took upon Himself all the iniquities of the world so that we might be able to enter into a right standing relationship with the Father. I mean, really what better gift is there than His birth? If I am thankful for anything, it’s that. Perhaps I should begin celebrating Thanksgiving the day AFTER Christmas. Now there’s a thought!
Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!
(Hawaiian for Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year)