Christmas was bittersweet this year. It was the first Christmas without my dad and the anniversary of his passing came within the Christmas season. It was ironic that after at least two years of my dad openly wondering when we were coming home and why we would even want to be overseas, we are finally here...and he isn't.
Yet, there was so much joy at spending Christmas with my family for the first time in four years. We used to drive down to Southern California a day or two after Christmas, but this year Christmas fell on Saturday and it just made sense to drive down on Saturday, Christmas Day. It meant that getting all the siblings together would be easier and getting to Mass for both Christmas and Sunday would be more convenient.
|It looks like we have upholstered furniture on the ceiling. We don't. |
I just needed to take the picture from an odd angle.
And don't be fooled by the dates on the pictures. Our camera is having time issues.
So those last days leading up to Christmas were a whirlwind of baking, packing, wrapping, etc. We went to the first Mass on Christmas Eve. The down side was that it felt really early...like we were cheating Christmas. The up side? We were there for the procession down the aisle with the Baby Jesus which was placed in the large nativity scene that was right in front of us! The kids were thrilled and it really brought our Advent preparation to a fitting conclusion.
|"Wow! He is here!!"|
|Though she isn't always this serious about her devotion to the Child Jesus she has really impressed us with her desire to live the story of the nativity.|
We spent a whirlwind two nights and three days at my Mom's with a family Christmas celebration on Sunday, which was not only the Feast of the Holy Family, but also my dad's name day and the anniversary of our engagement. We have two anniversaries for our engagement, one liturgical (the Feast of the Holy Family) and one by the calendar (December 31st).
|Just a little taste of the craziness at Grandma's house.|
In addition to the joy of being together for Christmas was the brand new pleasure of the presence of my youngest brother's fiance and her son at our Christmas table. We are very happy for them and look forward to the news about plans for the future. Keep them in your prayers!
We came home on Monday and spent Tuesday unwinding. The kids also finally got their Christmas stockings on that day.
|The stockings we |
Wednesday was our traditional (for the first time since 2006 when we lost our camera and have no pictures to show for it) trip to Our Lady of Peace shrine in Santa Clara, followed by lunch at Half Moon Bay. This was the itinerary the day we were engaged.
|Our Lady of Peace Shrine. It really is THAT big, right along side a major highway.|
|Half Moon Bay 2010|
|Half Moon Bay 2005|
New Year's Day brought my sister and her family for a little over-nighter. As always, it was great to get together with the K Family, and especially with my eldest niece (also my God-daughter) who is in her freshman year at University of Dallas.
The Solemnity of the Epiphany took us by surprise and I didn't have my act together enough to give the planned gifts for that day. So, we celebrated Epiphany twice, Sunday and Thursday January, 6.
Wednesday January 5th, was the first anniversary of my dad's death. The kids and I were able to make it to morning Mass and pray for Grandpa. My mom and brothers were also at our home parish where the Mass was said for Dad. It is hard to believe it has been a whole year. It seems like yesterday. We miss him so much.
For the remainder of the Christmas season we enjoyed the lights, the decorations, the lighted candles, the stories and all the nativity scenes. It took a few days of warnings to get the kids ready for the change of liturgical season, but they came through like champs....well except for the crying and whining....no really, they did great! Everyone helped take down the tree this morning and pack away all the Advent and Christmas decor. I miss it, but....
...it is nice to have a cleared out house. Simplicity is the theme of this season.