Christmas has come and gone. How sad! We have two little “countdown to Christmas” decorative items in our home. If we could change them to 362… I’m sure that we would leave them up all year long! Are we Christmas geeks or what?!
The big day has come and gone. We have another week and a half to enjoy our decorations and then they all come down. It’s amazing how quickly this Christmas came and went. We can’t figure out exactly why, but this year just felt less festive. We didn’t feel that same urge to constantly listen to Christmas jingles, and everything felt a little less “Christmas-y”. I think it was due to a combination of reasons. A lot happened this year… our nearest and dearest friends moved away (almost all of them), we worked a lot (too much), and things just didn’t go as we hoped they would. For one, after the miscarriage in August, I definitely thought that we would be pregnant again by Christmas. And then there’s the pollution – it was awful during the week of Christmas. This is what we woke up to on Christmas morning… (picture above). A white Christmas, but not what you’d hope for when you wish for a white Christmas. More of an off-white Christmas!
Wow! What a downer of a post, right??
I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I do know that we have more than enough to be thankful for.
So here, we go… FIVE REASONS it doesn’t matter that this Christmas felt a little “less festive”…
Family. It is true that this year we have a lot less friends around, we are also far away from our families, and we miss them all dearly. But the truth remains that we have each other. The three of us are incredibly blessed, and being together (even just the three of us) is a beautiful blessing in itself. This year we worked, a lot, but we really wanted to fly to both South Africa and the States. It was taxing, but it was worth it. This next year we will see a lot less of family, but we have each other. God has a plan for us, and we are thankful for the fact that no matter what we imagine and hope for, HE has EVEN GREATER plans!
Smiles and laughter. The pollution has been BAD, and I mean really bad, lately. The levels have reached all time highs, and some cities have even hit 1500 in the last week. The World Health Organization recommends a maximum exposure of 25 over the space of 24 hour period. There are provinces experiencing days of over 1000…. That is RIDICULOUS! It is frightening to think that these levels are so high, and it is sad that we spent our Christmas week choking on a cloud of filth. The pollution WILL lift (it never stays bad, especially in the city of Qingdao), and we are blessed to have am apartment equipped with air purifiers. We are also very blessed with a beautiful home that we love very much. Inside that home we enjoy much laughter and many smiles. Sweet Elijah makes us laugh all day long. He spins in circles, bursts into laughter, makes funny faces, and gives the sweetest kisses. So yes, even though the air outside has been yucky, we are so very blessed to have an abundance of love and joy within our home.
Care Packages. It happens every year… And you always see our excitement as our care packages arrive in the mail. A big box, wrapped in red (this year it was wrapped in brown), filled with tons of treats and gifts. Every year the wrapping paper on the gifts inside the package is the same, and it reminds us of Texas, family, and lots of love. This year was no different, but our package got a little delayed. It arrived a couple of days before Christmas though so we still had time to unpack the gifts and put them under the tree before the big day arrived. We had been tracking the box, which entered China (and made it through customs without any delays), but it went slow after that. The postal system in China is reeaaalllly slow and inefficient. In fact, we have recently learned that most Chinese people don’t even use the normal postal system.
With all of our recent online ordering, there have been a few items that needed to be sent back (wrong sizing, and so on). We assumed that we would need to take these things to the post office, but a co-worker informed us that this was not necessary. Apparently you just call someone and they come to your door to pick the parcel up. You then pay them, and the rest is done for you. These private-mailing systems seem to be the way that the Chinese folk do it here.
To the right you can see little man standing over our Christmas package from The Essers in Texas. We have a similar pictures of him hovering over the Christmas Care Package last year. He has his phone in his hand – I think he was trying to call Grams and Gramps to say thank you! So there you have it, even though we are far away from everyone, we are thankful to be blessed with loving packages filled with surprises!
New Beginnings. Christmas comes just before the start of a brand new year. That means that along with Christmas comes a chance to start over. I love fresh starts and new beginnings… (haha, which is probably why I always start diets on a Monday – it just feels right to make the changes at the start of a new week!). We worked a lot, we have picked up a ton of weight, and we didn’t quite get what we had hoped to get this year (another baby), but that’s okay… 2016 is on the way. We will work less, appreciate our time more, get back in shape, and hold onto our blessings, knowing that a new year means another year of love and joy.
The Real reason for the Season. It is easy to get caught up in all of the decorations, the lights, the music, the food, and the Christmas gatherings. Perhaps when one of those is missing, things feel a little less festive. This year, it was the people and gatherings missing, so things felt less festive. I have had to repeatedly remind myself that all of that is NOT the reason for this season. It doesn’t matter where we are, or who we are with around Christmas. All that matters is that we remember the real reason for the season. Jesus!