And sparkly leopard print slippers . . .
And lots of lovely-smelling, colorful goodies, in pretty packaging . . .
Here were the 20-somethings' nails . . .
Kind of matched the punch . . .
I didn't want to be left out so I matched the candy canes . . .
We ate a lot. Here is my son whipping up potatoes, butter, sour cream, and cheese to go in the twice-baked potatoes . . .
This peppermint cake was delicious.
The presents and the food were wonderful, but the best part was just being with family.
All my sparkly stuff, all my shelves of books, all my vintage china, every thing I enjoy and appreciate, is just that, a thing. I enjoy the material blessings I have and see them as good gifts, but hopefully I hold onto them loosely. One day they will all be dust. The only thing that will remain in the end will be the love we shared with others.
The best gifts are the ones we give. I had so much fun this year shopping for Operation Shoebox, sponsored by Samaritan's Purse, to fill a shoebox that would be sent to a little girl somewhere in an impoverished part of the world. We picked out a pretty top, some hair bows, toothpaste and brush and soap, markers and crayons and stickers and more. We also sent money to Compassion International to help with relief work after the devastating typhoon in the Philippines in November. We still don't know whether the girl our daughter has been sponsoring is okay. We gave money to our church in support of the Dalit people of India, the so-called "untouchables," who are regarded as outside the caste system, and whose plight surely represents one of the worst human rights tragedies imaginable.
We also gave the gift of prayer. We prayed for friends whose son battles with autism, and prayed that he was well enough to enjoy the Christmas carols they were going to sing to him on Christmas Eve. We prayed for another friend who was hosting Christmas for her family, but is dealing with Type 1 diabetes symptoms, her constant companions. We prayed for another friend whose wife is struggling with breast cancer. And the list goes on . . .
Love and prayer, family and friends . . . these are what truly matter . . .
I am grateful to spend the next few days reading and knitting in front of the fire, eating leftovers. The twelve days of Christmas have just begun! Don't be in a hurry to pack it all up. Soak in the peace and warmth and joy for a little while longer. Hold your loved ones close before they head back out into the world of work and school. Besides, there are still goodies to enjoy . . .
Traditional Puppy Chow (recipe on the Rice Chex box), with red and green M&Ms thrown in for a festive touch . . .