We spent Wednesday night at our church with Heather and her three kids, Nathan, Christa and Jenna. There was a Little Town of Bethlehem set up, pretty much taking up the whole church and grounds. There was a living nativity, with angels, shepherds, the best behaved donkey I've ever seen, sheep and at least one goat. The wise men were there, of course. Snow was on the ground. I kept thinking the angels should be flapping their wings to stay warm. Everyone stood around the manger singing together as the story was read.
Then we went back inside and continued to visit little shops where the children made different little things to take home with them. Our last stop was in the dining hall for a wonderful beef stew and bread dinner together. It was a wonderful night, made all the more special by the presence of the children. Also, I guess, knowing that I wasn't rushing anywhere for shopping, wrapping and mailing helped. That was all taken care of already.
I guess living far enough away that everything has to be mailed does have its advantages. The secular part has to get done early. Now all I've been doing is listening to the Christmas music, putting up a few decorations, and thinking about Christmas dinner now and then, so it'll be special.
One funny little thing that was special. The kids' dad, Matt, couldn't come with them that night because of a weekly obligation at their own church. Christa, 6, was sitting next to me eating, and I said to her, "So, what's your dad doing tonight?" She said, "He's at Mutual." I asked, being funny, "Oh, Mutual of Omaha?" and she said, "Yes." I think Matt would have been really tickled.