People either love Christmas letters or they hate them. Mine started years ago, mostly as an outlet for my writing at a time in my life when I was rarely writing anything anyone would actually read. It became a fun personal tradition, something I did for me more than for anyone else. Now, several years later, when around the first of December I start getting questions about my yearly Christmas letter, when it will be out and what it’ll be about, I’m delighted to find that others seem to enjoy reading my letter as much as I enjoy writing it.
I mail out letters and hand them out to my church family, but, unfortunately, sometimes I miss people. I’m notorious for tossing my Christmas card list every year and having to start from scratch again the following year and someone always ends up being left out. My sincerest apologies.
But that’s why I post my Christmas letter here, so anyone I may have missed can still read what I have to say and know that, whether it arrived in their mailbox or not, my letter is written with love and with wonderful wishes for every reader for Christmas and for the year to come.
important tradition in our home, just like listening to our A Very Merry Christmas record collection,
covering the tree in those silvery shredded plastic icicles that looked nothing like icicles, and being forced
on Christmas morning to wait until Mom and Dad had brewed a full pot of coffee before we could open a
single present. They had the slowest
coffee maker in the world…
like “Hershey Kiss Thumbprints” and “Pecan-Rolo Pretzel Bites” would never have qualified as legitimate
Christmas cookies where my mother was concerned. Honestly, I don’t know that refrigerated
cookie dough was ever allowed inside
our home, but it certainly was not permitted at Christmastime! Mom’s Christmas cookies were the old-fashioned,
time-consuming, made-entirely-from-scratch variety. And when the dough was thoroughly mixed and
rolled into a thin sheet on the kitchen table, my brother and I would use the Twelve Days of Christmas cookie cutter
set that was reserved just for this special occasion. Most moms would likely have scooped up the
Partridges in Pear Trees and the French Hens and the Maids ‘a Milking, popped
them in the oven, and called it a day, having done their motherly duty. But not my mom! No, after the cookies had been baked and
cooled, we also painted them in a
dozen shades of powdered sugar and water “paints” Mom meticulously stirred
prevail from those days spent baking cookies together. Laughter.
Glorious smells. The cozy warmth
of the oven while a cold world lay just outside the kitchen window.
a mom myself now. I bake Christmas
cookies with my children, too, and every year I think I remember a bit more clearly
what those cookie-baking days with Mom were really
and I fought over who got to dump in the flour, who got to break the eggs,
whose fault it was the eggs fell off the counter. We somehow flung dough into strange and
distant corners of the kitchen and we dusted flour all over the floor. Mom would have a brief reprieve while the
cookies were baked and cooled, but then we came to a newspaper-draped table and
whipped out some little brushes that came with our paint books, (ones that may or
may not have been properly washed after use with a paint tray,) then we’d fight
over who had the green and who accidentally mixed red in with the yellow and then
I’d cry when the leg broke off of my Piper Piping, just like it did every single year.
be told, I can see how some might say that baking cookies with small children
is something akin to Chinese water torture, yet I had a mom who was determined
to do it. Every year.
get to the significance of that in just a minute, but allow me to steer away
from the subject long enough to say how thankful I am for such a beautiful,
remarkable year. Alika and I celebrated
15 years of marriage in 2012! They say
time flies when you’re having fun, so if the speed of the past 15 years is any
indication, and I think it is, then our
lives have been cram-packed with good times!
amazing munchkins add to all the joy, of course. Alika and I are enjoying our final few months
without a teenager in the home because, if I added correctly, we may not be
without one again until 2028! Obviously
we’re trusting God for grace sufficient.
note, we continue to be the nerdy, slightly-kooky homeschooling family I never
dreamed we’d be, but I’m embracing the kookiness with all the joy of a mom who
has found incredible direction and purpose.
Next year we’ll somehow add a Kindergartener to the mix and somehow
we’ll make it work and somehow I’ll survive it all and in the process we’ll
continue to grow closer and wiser and happier as a family. It’s an amazing thing. Such is the nature of the grace sufficient God promises us.
back to the cookies. Why on earth did
Mom put herself through unbelievable stress to bake Christmas cookies with us,
cookies that were more work than hanging wallpaper one-handed and, by the time
we were done with them, were uglier than homemade soap?
she was addicted to made-from-scratch butter cookies? Hardly.
She did it because she realized traditions are important. They provide a foundation on which beautiful
memories and lasting influence can be built. She recognized that investing time
in her children, in people, was worth
the chaos and the mess and the inconvenience.
Every Christmas she had the opportunity to leave flour-dusted fingerprints
on every inch of a little girl’s heart and mind and memory. And I’m so glad she took advantage of the
opportunity to do so!
twice the kids Mom had, so when we make Christmas cookies at our house, it’s double the fun! I have the same recipe and the same cookie
cutters and the kids make the same mess.
I stir together “paints” with powdered sugar and more artificial dye
than I care to admit. My kids fight over
the green paint and yell at Peanut when he mixes the red in the yellow and
somebody gets upset when the leg breaks off their Piper Piping, just like it
has happened every year for as long as I can remember.
the midst of the chaos I can press my eyes closed and be thankful for a mom who
taught me to cherish those crazy family traditions; to never be too busy or too
scheduled or too organized to provide my children with memories; to set aside,
as often as possible, my own silly, self-centered desires in order to leave as
many fingerprints on their little lives as humanly possible.
you love the story of Jesus and how He did the same? He was the Son of God come to earth on the
most vital mission in history, yet he never bypassed an opportunity to touch a
life. He was never too busy, too driven,
too important to reach out, even to take the smallest child into his lap and
bless them. He left fingerprints on the
hearts of everyone He encountered and He continues to do the same today.
and your family enjoy a very Merry Christmas and be richly blessed in the New