O ye beneath life’s crushing load

I remember those holidays when I was single.  I remember the acute sense of loneliness when I showed up at a family gathering by myself and those pangs of longing as I left the festivities bursting with family and drove home. Alone.

I remember when I wept sitting under the lighted tree one Christmas Eve because I had been infertile for many years. There were no children to share the joy of the day. My arms and my heart felt empty.

I remember the Christmas when my Grandpa, who was so very dear to me, passed away a few days before the holiday. It was a consuming time with the funeral, visitation and dealing with grief. I barely noticed it was Christmas that year.

I also remember sensing God’s presence in those lonely times. When I cried out to Him, I was reminded:

For unto us a Child is born! Unto us a Son is given!

I pray those who might feel lonely today will know that Christ is born for them. You always have a family and you always have a baby to love if you have Jesus. He is our baby, our brother, our dearest One, and He is with us always. God made flesh.

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, verse 2

The Scripture quote comes from Isaiah 9:6

The image is verse two from the Christmas carol “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” written by Edmond Hamilton Sears in 1849.

Our (Frugal) Christmas Traditions

This week for The Loft we are linking up to share some of our Christmas traditions!

My husband and I have enjoyed celebrating Advent season with our children. The past couple of years we’ve wrapped up our manger scene with wrapping paper in individual pieces. The kids were allowed to unwrap one piece per night as we shared each part of the Christmas story, culminating in the cradle with baby Jesus.

Manger Scene

This December we are reading through Ann Voskamp’s book “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift”. We printed out the free printable ornaments that are on her website and carefully colored them. After each story we hang the ornaments on our Jesse tree, (in our case, it’s a tree drawn on our chalkboard wall). The kids look forward to it every night, as do the adults.  The readings are helping us keep our focus on the the love that God has for us through His son, Jesus Christ.

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

My husband’s family loves playing board games, so we started a tradition of buying a game that our family can play.  This is the only gift that our children receive from us.  (They get plenty of gifts from their grandparents, aunts and uncles!) In 2013 we purchased Enchanted Forest. It is interesting and challenging enough for children and parents alike—we are all on equal footing! Our family has played it many times over the past year, and you never know who will win. 🙂

Playing Enchanted Forest

Playing Enchanted Forest

Last week, my mom and I made a large batch of banket, a Dutch almond pastry, and not only did we have the fun of baking together, but we gave them as gifts for my husband’s bosses, co-workers and others. In other years we have made babbelaars a Dutch candy.

Making Banket with my Mom

Making Banket with my Mom

Our Christmas tree  was purchased at Wal-Mart after Christmas for less than $4.00 nine or ten years ago—when I was still single! Yes, it’s a half-sized pitiful sort of Charlie Brown artificial tree, but my kids know nothing else, and they ooh and ahh over it every year, and have great fun putting on the ornaments.

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

I hope you enjoyed reading about a few of our (frugal) Christmas traditions.  What is one of  your favorite holiday traditions?  Feel free to comment below!