It's hard to believe that Christmas was just 4 days ago. This past Friday, like so many, we passed around the gifts, ripped open the wrapping paper, made a huge debris pile of ribbon, paper, and cardboard, ate way too much food, and enjoyed a day connecting with our family both in house and over Zoom. And by the end of the day, we were spent.
The countdown started on the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend. As is our tradition, that weekend we officially decorated our Christmas tree. I say officially, because we set up the tree a couple weeks earlier. It wasn't decorated, but with 2020 being what it's been, the tree was a reminder that something exciting was coming.
We started our Countdown to Christmas vlogs and began sharing more of our Christmas traditions and activities. 2020 has been a topsy-turvey year, but we hoped that some of the familiar, and most cherished holiday activities would bring a sense of normalcy. And for the most part, Christmas was Christmas! We decorated, shopped, planned, prepared, wrapped, baked, cooked, and readied everything for Christmas Day. Oh, and let's not forget the Christmas movies! We watched a lot of Christmas movies!
Our oldest was able to come home from school. The last time we saw him was mid August when he left for school. It's probably been the longest stretch of time of not seeing him, adding to the reality that he is starting his own life; living on his own, finishing school, and just about ready to formally leave the nest.
All 5 kids were together. We played games, watched more movies, ate more food, and enjoyed spending time together as a family; something that we are taking full advantage of.
Christmas Eve arrived, and as expected, it was a bit different. There was the last minute shopping, gift wrapping, and kitchen prep, but there wasn't the usual Christmas Eve services. But with Covid-19 still making it's mark, our church has postponed all in-person gatherings. It's a smart call, and one we support, however, not being at church on Christmas Eve is a very weird thing, especially when you work for a church. Instead, there were two online services (we talk about them here, Christmas Eve Looks A Little Different This Year) which were both great. And while we watched both, it just wasn't the same.
But we pushed on. The kids exchanged their Secret Santa gifts, we all unwrapped our 2020 Christmas pajamas, which, by the way were a huge hit! In year's past we failed at the Christmas "jammies" tradition, but this year, we found super comfy flannel pants and made our own shirts. Jay created a simple graphic with a Christmas tree, decorated with ornaments that represented the year; toilet paper as the garland, and pictures of some of our 2020 adventures as the ornaments. It was a great way to capture one last time, some of the fun we had as a family in 2020. (Yes, we had fun in 2020!)
And in sticking with tradition, we watched The Nativity Story movie together as a family. The Nativity Story is always a great way for us to remind ourselves of the "Greatest Gift" and his unique arrival. When the movie was finished, it was time to go to bed and to wait for "Santa's" arrival!
Amy and I (Jay) finally sat down around 12:30 a.m. to watch a little bit of the A Christmas Story, another Christmas Eve must! We enjoyed the fireplace, the lights, the mountain of gifts, and the stillness of a house ready for Christmas morning. It was beautiful.
Christmas morning arrived. The kids got up, slowly, and we made our way into the living room. It's quite a bit different; doing Christmas with teenagers and young adults. No longer do the kids stay in their rooms, or upstairs waiting, for the signal that welcomes them into the living room for Christmas. Nonetheless, it was still a sweet morning together. We read the Christmas story from Luke 2, as is our custom, then one by one, we took turns opening gifts. Amy and I, always get a kick out of the surprised smiles and faces as the kids open an unexpected gift or two.
With the gifts opened we moved on to breakfast; our Christmas Skillet and homemade cinnamon rolls. It's not the healthiest of breakfasts, but a holiday favorite that we just can't get away from.
With everyone staying home this year, we scheduled 2 Zoom calls with our families before sitting down at the table for our first, family Christmas dinner. Yes, I sad first. For the last 22 years, Christmas Day has been appetizers and punch. We decided long ago that we wanted to enjoy the day with our kids, and not spend it in the kitchen prepping a meal. And so, every year the kids pick their favorite appetizers that we share on Christmas Day. But this year, we started a new tradition of the Christmas Dinner; ham, potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, the works. We even had our famous sausage stuffing. Since Logan was unable to join us for Thanksgiving, he requested the stuffing, and we were more than happy to say, YES to that!
Oh, and did I mention the snow?! Yes, we had a White Christmas! The snow started falling late in the evening on Christmas Eve. By the time it finished falling on Christmas Day, we had about 5 & 1/2 to 6 inches! It was the perfect exclamation mark on what was truly a perfect Christmas Day!
We've written a lot about fact that our kids are growing up and life is changing. But, it's still weird to think that our kids are no longer kids. We took a family picture, then a picture of just the 5 kids. When we were able to sit down and look at the pictures, I mentioned to Amy, that our kids are almost all grown up.
It's bittersweet. We have worked hard to create moments for our kids, memories that last far longer than materials. We savored the time when as kids, the magic of Christmas filled the house with excitement and anticipation. We've treasured the Christmas Eve pageants, services, and celebrations. And while the thought was always in the back of our minds, back then, Christmas was all about having fun with our kids. But now, our kids are on the verge of adulthood, and that thought in the back of our minds is now an impending reality, our kids have grown up.
Some of our traditions have changed. This is the first year we haven't read Jothem's Journey, an Advent staple in our house for more than 10 years. There were no cookies left for Santa. No reindeer feed on the front lawn. And with Covid, we either skipped or postponed a small handful of traditions that we weren't able to do this year. Life is changing. We've acknowledged it. We knew it was coming. And while we think we might be ready for it, it still hurts a little.
Now we find ourselves saying things like, "when the grandkids come, we can do..." Grandkids?! Really? No, not really.
This Christmas was sweet, one that I'm glad we've captured for the vlog. Having those memories available on video is something we will never regret doing. Frozen in time, precious keepsakes we'll cherish, and be able to look back on and remember.
Christmas 2020. It was a good one; a really good one. But even as I type this, I'm thinking, Christmas isn't really over till January 6th, so...
- the higham family
Watch our 2020 Christmas Special!
For many, this year has been a challenging one. But each time I think back to the events of this year for me and for my family, my heart is filled with joy. Of course the pandemic and political state of our nation have caused great stress for many. I don’t mean to minimize that. For me though it has been a perfect time to truly live out the faith I say I believe. I do not fear the pandemic because I know ultimately that the God I love and serve is on the throne. I know that He is the same God who has walked with his people through countless dark times in the past. As for the election and the state of our country, again I trust the Lord. I serve the same God who in Daniel 2:21 it says, “ He changes times and seasons: he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” Whatever side of the election you are on, rest in this!
For me this year has been a call back to all the things that are really important. We have had amazing family time and adventures. We’ve been able to travel our new state of WV exploring beautiful lakes, boat rides and spectacular views. We’ve played games, watched movies, worked on projects together around our home, swam in our pool, were given a delightful beach vacaton, enjoyed campfires with deep and not so deep conversations, spontaneously played the snow late at night, and shared lots of laughter! It has been a call back to enjoy the time we do have with each other. The simple things. I really love each member of my family! The blessings God has for us right under our roof are good and He wants us to enjoy them. And we have!
I have been able to make more time to spend with Jesus in the quietness of the mornings! What a sweet time to hear His voice through His Word and to be reminded of His love and encouraged to love those around me well.
I have also found my love for ministry again. To be honest the past 8 years have been filled with stress in ministry and personal heartache for me. Quite frankly, there were times I was so angry and frustrated with the church and with God for calling us into ministry, and into leaving a church and community I loved dearly, that it crippled me. I have been freed of that! God has given us a healthy place to learn, grow and to pour into others. He’s given me an amazing ministry to teens with disabilities. I have learned so much about how big His Kingdom really is and it brings me joy to serve and share the Gospel again! I have a renewed passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be known and heard by all.
This morning as I was reading my advent devotional on Joy, I was led to these verses in Psalm 126 that sums up this year for me.
“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter and our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:1-3
Oh sweet friend, wherever you are, The Lord has done great things for you!! May you experience the joy this Christmas that only He can bring amidst a crazy year like 2020!! I’m praying you do!
Christmas Eve is going to look a little different this year. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, many churches are making arrangements to host online Christmas Eve services. At C3, we are planning to host 2 Christmas Eve services. One service will be a traditional, taking place at 4:00 p.m. The second service will be our kids service at 3:00 p.m.
While I (Jay) am a huge fan of the Christmas Eve service, I am really looking forward to our first online Christmas Eve service for kids and families.
This year has brought with it, so many new things. One of the biggest adjustments we have had to make, as a family, is the online church experience. Yes, we have watched online services and various pastors teach on video for years. But watching those videos was in addition to our regular worship experiences at our home church. Now, we're watching our home church on a regular basis.
Worshipping together online is not the same as
Thanks for taking the time to read The Higham Family Blog. Each week we try to share new content about something we are learning, something we love, or something to offer encouragement to the family. We love to hear from our readers, so please share your thought in the comment section of each post.