Our Competetive Side Crashes Into the Season

Well, it’s that time again. I have to be honest- with everything going on-much like My Christmas decorating, chocolate making, and shopping before Black Friday- I was going to let our Gingerbread Faceoff pass peacefully and quietly away this year. That is- until I caught a glimpse of Rain’s paper for school. In it she expressed how she looked forward to our silly Gingerbread tradition! So- we just had to FIT it in to the already overpacked schedule!!!!
So without further ado- our houses up for your vote!!!







So this is how it works! Comment on this post with which one you like best, Hunger Games Tribute OR 70’s Bungalow.
The winners get bragging rights all year.

Thanks all!!!


Mele Kelekemaka Tornado Style

A little something for the grandparents!!

Where Are You Christmas?

I have been working on a post for a while now-it’s been written, and re-written more than a few times because-to be quite honest with you- it’s quite inflammatory. So I am going to re-blog the following post as a pre-cursor to my weigh in on the subject.


When I was in sixth grade, I received two Christmas presents I distinctly remember:

1. A coveted “Forenza” tag on a pair of black leggings with a corresponding purple-and-black plaid shirt. (The outfit could’ve been anything, as long as it was from The Limited.)
2. A red football jersey-type sweatshirt.

I loved them both. Loved, loved, loved. I was certain these gifts were my ticket out of Dorkville. My feathered haircut and Bargain Selection glasses would become moot in light of my new stylish garb. The popular kids would wonder what they had previously missed in me. The cute boys I pined for would fight over inviting me to homecoming. I would probably start winning awards.

Until one unfortunate eavesdropping session.

I was supposed to be in bed but was actually creeping in the hall when I heard my mom say to my dad: “Her red sweatshirt? I found it at Walmart for $3.”

Oh. No. She. Didn’t.

And just like that, the sweatshirt lost all its charm. It became something a girl would wear because she couldn’t afford Esprit and her mother refused to buy her Guess jeans. It communicated: I’m poor. (I was in sixth grade, people. It was a very dramatic time.)

And that’s the only thing I remember from Christmas 1985. Not Jesus. Not reverence. Not generosity. Not gratitude. Just a selfish, materialistic reaction because every single gift I received wasn’t from an overpriced store with a name brand I could casually brag about. What a brat.

This sort of nonsense still happens every year. What happened to Christmas? When did it transform from something simple and beautiful to this? How did the enemy hijack Jesus’ birth and serve it on a silver platter to Big Marketing, tricking His own followers into financing the transfer?

Every year we bear this tension. But in the absence of a better plan or – let’s just say it – courage, we feed the machine yet again, giving Jesus lip service while teaching our kids to ask Santa for whatever they want because, you know, that’s really what Christmas boils down to.

I can’t take it anymore. What if a bunch of us pulled out of the system? What if we made a radical decision like: “Our family is going to celebrate Jesus this year in a manner worthy of a humble Savior who was born to two poor kids in a barn and yet still managed to rescue humanity”?

I’m going to throw out some ideas for what I hope is a more meaningful Christmas; you may take some and leave some. Maybe you’ll tweak an idea to fit your family. Good reader, you may take none. Here goes.

Ditch Santa

Because I’m anxious to isolate myself from your goodwill, let me start with a biggie: Last year our family pulled the plug on Santa. Our newly adopted kids were then 5 and 8, preparing for their first Christmas in America, and Brandon and I were just done, y’all. We had spent four years unraveling the tale we presented to our other kids, and we wanted to start this round differently. We gave Christmas back to Jesus. Not a corner of it; all of it.

There’s no longer a fake benefactor my kids can petition to get more stuff. Because honestly, for a 5-year-old, how can Jesus compete with Santa? Will kids choose a baby in a manger or a twinkling, flying character who showers them with presents? Believe me, I’m not here to judge. We did Santa for years! You don’t need to defend your position to me or anyone. For our family, Christmas has gone through several years of reconstruction, and each year progressively becomes more simplified. God is doing different things with different families at different times. Everybody, be cool.

My friend Andrew, a non-believer, explained the conundrum this way: “I always thought it was strange how Christians will tell me they have this giant, awesome truth deep in their soul [that they] want to share with me, but when December 25 comes around, they lie to their own progeny because, apparently, that liberating and awesomely simple truth is somehow just not enough. It may be a good story, but it needs a little something to give it some panache.”

Another drawback to the Santa scenario is that it sets a “be good and you’ll get stuff” tone for Christmas, which becomes so deeply seeded that undoing it is almost impossible. When our children then hear at age 9, “Never mind! It’s all fake! Oh, and stop being so selfish because Christmas is about Jesus,” don’t be surprised if they ask to move in with Grandma. It’s so much easier to make Christmas about Jesus from the start rather than undo it later.

Frugalize Spending

Let’s tackle this one: spending. Brandon and I recently watched a video from Christmas 2004 when our kids were 6, 4, and 2. When we saw the mountains of presents in front of our preschoolers and watched them rip through boxes so fast that they barely registered what they received, I caught Brandon’s eye and mouthed, “We were freaks!” Not to mention our home was burgeoning with loot already, so we had to purge a bunch of toys just to shoehorn in the new stuff.

Five years ago, Brandon and I started this gift-giving policy for each kid: Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. (We’ve since added something to give. See sidebar “Give Instead of Get.”)

We can find alternative rhythms to show love to one another. My mother-in-law gives gifts of new memories together. She takes the kids to plays and museums and on day trips. She invites them over individually and spends precious time with them, and they gobble up her focused attention.

How about trying out some gifts of time, experiences, creative talents, and words this year? These will last long after the electric griddle has been forgotten.

Anticipate Advent

Finally, instead of just rejecting old habits, let’s replace American practices with – and I mean this so sincerely – Christian practices. As much as possible, let’s mute the competing chatter invading our spaces. Let’s talk about Jesus’ birth like it’s the thrilling, miraculous moment that it is.

Can we risk difficult conversations with grandparents, friends, and our own children, understanding that Jesus called it the narrow way for a reason, and He wasn’t kidding when He said few would find it?

I’m not trying to ruin Christmas. On the contrary. I’m dying to rediscover what is simple and magnificent about the Savior of the world coming to earth, putting on flesh, and saving my life. I want my kids to marvel that Jesus came, just like God said He would, forever transforming the concepts of hope and peace and salvation. When I create a season revolving around wish lists, frenzy, and mythological characters, I make it difficult for my kids to understand this.

We have the opportunity to show a watching world something truly hopeful this Christmas. We can show them something better than stress, spending, tension, and exhaustion. We can raise children who understand exactly why the songwriter wrote, “O come, let us adore Him.” We can bring good news to the nations yet again, fighting injustice and carrying hope through something as simple as sharing our money. Most importantly, we can render to Jesus the reverence He is owed, pushing all substitutions to the side and making our homes holy ground. This is why:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

The weary world rejoices, indeed. Thank You, Jesus! Joy to the world.


Gingerbread Faceoff 2011

I know, ok.  I’m late.  Get over it.

I won’t bore you with all the Christmas jolly lala.  This will be a quick post.  What started out as a boredom buster a few Christmases ago has turned into an annual event.  We split into teams and decorate gingerbread houses, then post them on FaceBook and let our family and friends vote on the houses.  McDaddy and boys have won EVERY year.  So this year when he suggested a friendly wager, I told him no freakin way I was betting with him.  The odds are against me.

We did our face-off, but then we didn’t post it to FaceBook.  Is it too late to post ya think?  Regardless, I wanted to get it on the blog.

Rain and my interpretation of the UP! house.

The Boys' house

Because McD is SOOOOOOOOO humble, he named their house the “House of Champions”  Please someone help me take him down this year!!

I’d love to hear your votes!  Post your comments!

Until next brag!


Book Recommendation and a Name Change

I’ll admit…the first bit of real Christmas Shopping I’ve done this year was Sunday with DH.  I’m the girl that stays up all  night and does Black Friday because it’s fun.  I’ll admit I didn’t even look at the ads this year.  There was just nothing that really stood out to me this year.  Perhaps it’s because I really tried to be resourceful this year.  Or maybe it was because there was just nothing that great.  Whatever the case…we went out on Sunday.

We headed to Target for stocking stuffers and other random items.  I usually like to get the kids each a book and then a Christmas book for the family to read on the 24th.  AS I’m perusing the books, I stumble across this:

I had to screenshot it b/c Amazon wouldn’t let me copy paste.  But anyway the book is called If I Could Keep You Little.  Sniffle sniffle BBBBBAAAAAWWWWWLLLLLL right there in the middle of Target.  DH is staring at me in unadultured horror mixed with a wee bit of pity and a shot of amusement. “WE HAVE TO GET THIS BOOK FOR GOLDEN BOY.”  I whisper as I’m trying to compose myself lest the lady next to me burst into a fit of giggles.
Its a book about the age old wish all parents have when their kids are being angels; I wish I could just keep you little.  But then it says all the things we would miss if our wish was granted.
ie… “If I could keep you little, I’d keep you close to me but then I’d miss you growing into who you were meant to be.”
Are your eyes moist yet?
Needless to say this treasure is under the tree to be opened Christmas morning by my darling little Golden Boy.  aka Ocean.
On another note….
I was reviewing my posts the other day.  Everybody has a nickname.  EVERYONE.  Everyone, that is except my husband.  Now, I’m sure he doesn’t even think about it, but I do.  It’s like when someone names their dog DOG or cat CAT.  It’s like the child in the family that doesn’t get a middle name when everyone else has one….you always wonder why you weren’t important enough to elicit two names.  Which is a whole other therapy session.  But anyway….poor DH has never been anything on here but DH.  so I decided to rename him:  from here on out DH will be known as…drum roll please….McDaddy!!  (not to be confused with Mack Daddy giggle giggle)
So there you have it…new reads to cry at and new names to laugh at!
Have a great day!
Until next brag…