Our Christmas celebration began yesterday with a party at the clubhouse.
At least 100 of our closest friends (all SKPs are close friends – even if they've never met!) gathered for some Christmas carol singing, food, and presents. Dale & Phyllis did a great job of leading the singing, with everyone joining in with gusto. Then, we ate, of course. RVers can't gather without food being a part of the agenda. Everyone brought finger foods to share with each other.
Lastly, there was fun present exchange.
Folks who brought presents sat in a huge circle and, as the narrator read a story, shifted presents from left to right and back again until the story was over. It was as much fun to watch as it was to participate, I think!
We expected to video chat with the kids today, but Kevin called on last evening because they were opening gifts then. So, we got Facetime (it's an iPhone thing) going and Randy & I got to watch AubreyLynn and her parents open gifts! Isn't technology phenomenal! Even though we couldn't be with them physically, we were able to see their joyful faces as they celebrated. And oh, that AubreyLynn is just a doll baby! She is a talker, too. Hmmmm . . . where does she get, I wonder??? Kevin & Sam are doing well, too. It was just so good to see them.
This morning we celebrated Christmas in a very unusual way for us, but not for the church we've called home for the past three winters. Our church is a member of the Evangelical Covenant denomination which is Swedish at its roots. And tradition is that we begin Christmas Day with an early morning worship service. And I mean, early – service began at 5:30am! Julotta (YOO luh tuh) was explained this way in the worship bulletin:
An early morning welcome to the Christ Child, the Light of the World, has been a high point of the Christmas celebration in Sweden since the earliest days of Christianity.
After the Christmas Eve supper, the people living farthest from church would start out in their gaily-decorated sleighs or on foot. In the remote country areas, lighted candles placed in farmhouse windows would shine across the paths of the worshippers. With torches burning as they went, they would be joined by ore and more Christian neighbors, until at last, the groups would converge on the church, and then throw their torches into a great bonfire.
The people gathered into the brightly lit and decorated sanctuary to hear the Christmas story and worship the Lord Jesus. They sang their beloved hymns . . . Then Christmas, regarded as a Holy Day, was spent quietly in the homes with family.
During our service, the Scripture account of Jesus' birth was read in Swedish and English.
It was really neat to begin our Christmas day in a way that was so different for us. Since we couldn't be with our “real” family this year, it was wonderful to be with our church family. This body of believers has truly become family to us. And we will miss them when we leave next week. But, we'll be together again some day.
We got home from church a little after 7am and after walking Blackie, we got on the phone and Facetime'd with Reagan and her daddy & mommy. Again, it was just fantastic to watch them open gifts and to see all the goodies Reagan has amassed already. We spent close to an hour video chatting with them. Gosh, it's so hard not to be there, but again I'm grateful for what we were able to do.
After all that excitement, Randy & I settled down to watch some TV and nap. After all, we'd been up since 4:15 this morning! :)
Around 1:30 we had our Christmas dinner of ham, green bean casserole, and yams. It was pretty good. But, very weird with it being just the two of us.
Now we're settled back into our recliners and the mini-series, “Lonesome Dove,” is on. Guess that's how we'll spend the rest of our day.
We truly wish each of you a wonderful Christmas celebration, hoping that you feel the love and peace that comes with the birth of Jesus.
Until the next time . . .