It is December 26 - and another Christmas has come and gone. The cards have been sent, the presents bought, wrapped and unwrapped, menus planned, food bought, meals prepared and enjoyed. The dishes have been washed. And everyone has gone home. Christmas is over - but is it?
The message of Christmas - the gift of Jesus - is a gift we can keep unwrapping and enjoying all year long. At the Christmas Eve service we went to I heard this message- God gave us the gift of everlasting life(John 3:16)... but it's more than that. God gives us the gift of abundant life (John 10:10)... but it's even more than that. It's Christ living in you (Col. 1:27). So God' gift to us is not just for the future, but also for now. It's not only external but internal. We are given the mystery of God, Christ in us. It reminds me of a line from a hymn "Strength for today, bright hope for tomorrow." (Can you name that tune?)
I probably should tell you a little about our Christmas past. We had a great Christmas! It started on Christmas Eve when Craig, Carrie and I went back to Maple Grove Covenant for their family service. This is the church we went to when we lived in Maple Grove, where our kids grew up. It was so good to reconnect with friends there, and to worship the Lord in a familiar place.
After supper Carrie and I had fun baking Melting Moments, my favorite Christmas cookie. Carrie also whipped up a batch of Puppy Chow, and one more Balvin family tradition - pickle wraps. My kids love, love, love pickle wraps. They ask for them at every family gathering. Carrie has become a pickle wrap master.
In case you've never had a pickle wrap, here's the simple recipe. Take a piece of corned beef, pat it dry, and spread it with a thick layer of cream cheese. (Unfortunately, the low fat cream cheese does not work as well.) Add a second layer of corned beef and cream cheese. Dry off a dill pickle, and wrap the corned beef around it tightly. Slice pickle wrap into bite size pieces.
Back to Christmas -
On Christmas Day we visited my dad i his apartment building. Brenton and his family met us there, and my dad really enjoyed seeing his great grandchildren. We came back home for lunch (appetizer type lunch - meat, cheese, pickle wraps, texas caviar and chips, etc.). Aaron arrived a short time after lunch. He had worked all night the night before, and had gone home to sleep for a few hours. Jake, Izzy and Drew could hardly wait to open gifts. We had so much fun taking turns opening gifts. The last gift to everyone was a devotional for 2009. I really thought it would be nice for eahc of us to be reading the same scripture each day - no matter where we are: Guatemala, Northfield, New Brighton, Emily, etc. we will be together as we read God's Word.
Craig shared some thoughts about God's gift to us, and we all recited John 3:16 together - even Jake, Izzy and Drew knew the Bible verse.
The afternoon continued with some games of Boggle and Cribbage. While Brenton and Jeff did beat me in one round of Boggle, I believe I can say that I remain the Boggle champion!
We finished off the day with an Italian supper - homemade Italian stew, lasagna (Simek's though, not homemade), french bread, and a delicious lettuce salad from a recipe in the Simply Delicious magazine.
Christmas was a day full of family - having all our kids and grandkids home together, sharing stories and memories, play and love.