The Dutch Rush

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Category: Christmas (page 1 of 2)

It feels like they were always here

This is such a special time of year. It’s hard to believe that just a year ago, we were welcoming some very special people into our home. Into our life. It feels like they were always here.

They already “remember” last year, when we got out the baby Jesus, and the books, and the pretty decorations.

They love the thrill of knowing about a little place called Bethlehem.

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Can our traditions handle the “Magic of Tidying”?

Last week I wrote about Marie Kondo and her best-selling “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”.

Her methods actually were a little life-changing…they inspired the courage to finally get rid of things that were wasting my time and energy.

But as I have gone through our home getting rid of things, something has come to my mind over and over again.

That little thing called balance.

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from us…

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You may have noticed that this sort of thing usually gets  mailed to your home.  But I am a huge slacker.  So you get an even better version.  The “tear my hair out because I am leaving in a few hours, but first why don’t I sit down and write a few dumb things  version”.

So here you go.  Top 8 (8 is my favorite number, so I’m ditching the “10” this time) things my family said this year.  Speed round.

(My list this year has been heavily censored and shortened, as our children are now old enough to say some terrifically outrageous things. So this leaves us with the “pastor’s family rated” version.  You’re welcome.)

8.  After a large amount of waiting for her to remember what she was going to say, Alyssa finally remarked “I don’t think I forgot what I was going to say, I don’t think I was going to say anything…”

7. “Mom, you’re like a good marrow in Dad’s bones.” -Joel, after we read Proverbs 12:4         (A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.)

6. Me: “I am happy to provide snacks tonight for small group (it was 5 minutes till small group), but I’d rather have a little advance notice.”   Michael: ” In order to give advance notice, there would have to be advance awareness.”

5. “This ice cream is terrible, it just follows your tongue around” – Alyssa

4. “Oh Mom, making Koek IS worth your while.” – Josh (with a mouthful of Koek)

3. “There are tons of reasons why I’m glad I’m not a lady…but I don’t yet know all of them” – Josh (I had just finished reading part of Little White Horse to Joel that had mentioned the girl had to sit up straight with her knees together because she was a lady. I asked Joel if he was glad he wasn’t a girl, and Josh answered for him.)

2. “I’m cleaning the world one sock at a time” -Michael, when I asked why he was bleaching just ONE of the boys socks.

1. “What’s for breakfast, Mom?  Are we having nice, big, juicy buns?  Cause I just saw some nice, big, juicy buns walk past me”. – Anonymous (to protect the guilty)

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Well, hopefully that makes up for my scandalous lack of mailing cards. Have a wonderful time with your families! Merry Christmas.

Our December Books

midwinter

Every now and then I tell you what we’re reading in school.  I usually mix it up a little in December, and we all enjoy the change.  We still do most of our normal studies, but adding some different reading at Christmas is fun.  Because I say it’s fun.

This year we learned Christina Rossetti’s poem “In the Bleak Midwinter”.  The last verse seems to be the most recognized, but this verse was my personal favorite:

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

This poem was also made into a Christmas carol.  It’s pretty slow, but we’ll just call that peaceful.  We can all use a little of that right about now.

This year we read I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge.  Incidentally, this is also a Christmas carol. Look out, it’s the sort of song that gets stuck in your head. For days.

Since I’ve really been enjoying Elizabeth Goudge lately, I thought her little Christmas book would be a good pick. Unfortunately, no.  It wasn’t awful, just not what I have come to expect from that author.

The very best part of the book was the incessant use of the name “Dorcas”, which apparently my boys had never heard, so it reminded them of “Dork”.  Most of the time reading the book produced massive giggling fits, so it wasn’t a total fail…

My apologies to anyone named Dorcas who might be reading this.  And yes, they have been educated on this name and the fact that it appears in the Bible. Doesn’t help. Still hilarious.

And next, The Christmas Carol. I have never read this book, so it has been quite a surprise to me to find such thought-provoking things in here.  Like this quote where Scrooge is talking about his old boss, Fezziwig.

He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome;  a pleasure or a toil.  Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ’em up:  what then?  The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.

-Dickens,  A Christmas Carol

Naturally, I think of that from the view point of a mother.  I think it applies nicely to our relationship with our families.

And this one I liked, just because it’s so true:

It is always the person not in the predicament who knows what ought to have been done in it, and would unquestionably have done it too…

-Dickens

Next up, we are finishing a really sweet book (actually sweet, not like “Cool” sweet),  The Tanglewoods Secret by Patricia St. John.  This is our second book by this incredible author. Treasures of the Snow is much more well known than this one.  Both have stunned me with the simplicity and truth of the gospel, and how well she communicates it to children.

Another way St. John impresses me is how she is able to show the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a child.  If any of you are looking for books that walk your child through the gospel, and the life-changing work of the Spirit, these are your books.

And lastly…I know, just when you thought I’d talk forever.

We are studying the work of Jean Francois Millet.  I heard about him this fall and did quite a bit of study myself before introducing his art to the kids. Turns out, that’s a much better way to do art study.  When I actually know the back story on the artist and his work, things go along a little more smoothly.  I am hardly ever disappointed with what my kids get out of studying an artist’s work, but I have to say, this artist exceeded my expectations. I have spent some very happy hours learning about this man and his art.

Here is one of my favorites.

farmyard millet

A Christmas Confession

Michael and I have had endless conversations about Christmas. We discuss the fact that anyone can go on and on saying it’s all about Jesus, but what we value and do at Christmas sometimes tells a different story.

We’ve been in talks about Christmas for years now.

This year it broke me.

I was finally able to see clearly something I’d been missing.  How I’ve made Christmas and all of it’s trappings an idol in my life when God is the ONLY safe thing to “idolize”.  It’s been painful to take stock of the ways that I’ve put Christmas in a place it doesn’t belong.

And then to add insult to Jesus, I’ve told myself (and others) that it’s all about Jesus, and that I’m doing this for Him.

How silly.

I don’t excuse massive consumerism, debt, or the spending of my husband’s hard earned money irresponsibly in the name of Jesus during the the rest of the year.  Why this month?

Like it’s going to make Jesus proud that I made 10 kinds of cookies for people I never talk to at other times of the year, because I’m too busy for them.

But now it seems hard to recover from the shock.  How do I look at Christmas now that my eyes have been opened?

Our love and service of Jesus is an all year extravaganza.  It’s not something we should pack away in the Christmas boxes.

Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of Me”, but he wasn’t talking about the celebration of Christmas. 

I suppose a first step is just plain honesty.  It isn’t really all about Jesus.  It’s a lot about us.

It has a lot to do with pride.  Who is the best cook, who has the prettiest house?  Who has the most amazing re-cap of their year in the christmas card?  Christmas is a lot about looking good to everyone else. It’s also a lot about pleasing people.

Sometimes at the expense of pleasing God.

He deserves all of our heart.  The idolatry of Christmas won’t quit.  We have to decide how much we will do for the people we love, and then be done.  We have to be brave in our faith.  God calls us to live very differently from the world.

We ought to once and for all, heartily put our whole trust in God, and make a total surrender of ourselves to Him, secure that He would not deceive us.  We ought not weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.

-Brother Lawrence

Thankfully, loving Jesus isn’t about legalism, so this looks different for each heart and home. We get to choose how best to celebrate His birth.

We can enjoy Christmas, but only worship Jesus.

Dollar Store Christmas

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I’m sorry people.  I really do try to be reverent in my Christmas posts, but my mind trails off to other inane things when I try to get all serious.  There’s so much crazy, I have to comment on the crazy, and then I forget all the other sweet, beautiful things I was going to say about Christmas. This situation reminds me of one of my favorite quotes of all time. Which possibly says a lot about me, that maybe shouldn’t be said…

“There’s a fine line between genius and insanity, but the way that dame keeps swingin’ back and forth is enough to make a nervous wreck out of me!”

-My Friend Irma

A quote comes to my mind when I think of Michael trying to deal with me at this time of year.  (It would also come to Michael’s mind if he had the memory capacity to remember ever hearing this quote.)

“It’s obvious that I’m an emotional whoopee cushion for you to sit on!”

-King Julien in Madagascar 3

So I should just get all the stupidity out before I try to spread some Christmas beauty.

Anyhow.  My point being this: Have you been to the dollar store lately?

I have.

So many things I want to say, but shouldn’t.

I am only picking on the Dollar Store because I am related to a Walmart Associate, the other store that gives me the best stories.

You might also be wondering why I would go to the Dollar Store at this time of year.  And I would say to you, “Duh. Jesus’ birthday”.  Cause it’s somehow related…

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Can’t you see the Dollar Store in there?

The other reason I would go there, is that any self respecting pastor’s wife would not pay three dollars for something that could be had for ONE dollar, just because she found the Dollar Store somehow distasteful.

So. In early November I worked hard to get ahead of the holiday nuttiness.  I sat around for longer than I am proud of to think of how to get ahead for the holidays.  I wound up in the dollar store with half of the county.  The lines were off the HOOK.  The lady behind me in line was just as gerflumped as I was.*  We were both trying to figure out what might be going on.  What could so many people be doing here?

Later that evening while Michael and I were having our before dinner game of “top this stupid thing that happened today”, ** I mentioned the lines at the dollar store.  He brought up the possibility that maybe other people were also getting ready for christmas.  I didn’t really think so.  He asked what I had bought.  Christmas stuff.  What had the lady behind you bought?  uh. Christmas stuff.  Okay.  Point for the smart guy.

So, this week I found myself in that dreaded store again.  I swear it’s the last time before Christmas.  It all went so smoothly till I got to the register.  The lady in front of me had 200 items.  As I stood in line, a guy near by, but NOT in my line started chuckling. At me.

That is a very bad sign.

A few minutes into the transaction the checker stops a minute to dig something out from under her nail.  And then again.  And again. Interesting, I thought.

After much time had elapsed, so much time, that I had a chance to think of every single party I would be attending this month…it was time for the lady in front of me to finally pay.

Goody, this may mean I will get my turn soon.  But halfway through the payment process, everything came to a screeching halt.  As in, “I’m sorry, but I am too busy to take your money right now” sort of halt.

Because my checker had stopped to clip her nails.  Wait.  Clip her nails?

Why yes, that’s what we do during the magical holiday season at the Dollar Store.

It wasn’t all of her nails, don’t worry.  Just a few.

No wonder that man was laughing.

I will now leave you with a holiday masterpiece.  Look out folks, we have a budding photographer in our midst.

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*  Gerflumped is a new word I invented for this situation, you might try it, as it really does pass the time in line, and also makes you smile to yourself like an idiot.

** In other, sweeter homes this is also called “How was your day, Honey?”

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