Christmas 2014 was a contrast of clamor and quiet, joy and sickness, light-hearted banter and a glimpse of the sublime. This was our year to make the long journey to Ontario to visit and celebrate with my husband’s family. The four children are old enough and have traveled enough through the years to be fairly content riders. Despite many contacts, we were unable to find someone to keep our dog; so she made the trip also. Several hours of the Boxcar Children and recorded sermons kept everyone occupied.
My husband has seven siblings, and there are twenty-four grandchildren. We were grateful and blessed to see all of them at least once while we were in Ontario. My husband’s parents hosted a pancake lunch for all the grandchildren. A Dutch tradition is to give each child a chocolate letter of their first initial. A sweet sight was all twenty-four cousins, ages two through fourteen, gathered around Oma and Pake and waiting eagerly for their letter to be called. You can imagine the joyful clamor of young voices as they interacted throughout the day. Our children were a little disappointed that it was a “green” Christmas. After all, isn’t Canada supposed to have snow?! But the warmer weather allowed for a different kind of play. Most of the boys played hockey in the street, and the girls walked back and forth to the park.
Christmas eve, the candles were lit and we listened to records of a Dutch men’s choir singing traditional Christmas carols. That was the glimpse of sublime for me: experiencing the beautiful harmonies in the company of loved ones on a quiet Christmas evening.
Unfortunately sickness struck. It seems every year, when we are traveling during the winter months, we manage to contract a stomach virus. I blame it on extra sugar, but who knows? Early Christmas morning, three of our children were sick. My husband came down with it later in the day. Several of the extended family were sick as well. Thankfully, the symptoms moved on pretty quickly. The three sick ones and I stayed home from church. I was disappointed to miss it, but it could not be helped.
For lunch, many of the family gathered for turkey, ham, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, and more. The atmosphere was once again full of light-hearted banter.
Before we left Canada, we made a brief stop at Niagara Falls. The children had not been there previously. The majesty and power of the Falls speak of the glory of our Creator God.
After our view of the Falls, we drove down to Pennsylvania to visit with my family for a few days. The highlight for the children and their two cousins seemed to be running to the back field of the farm multiple times to gather ears of field corn that had been left behind by the combine. They found an old-fashioned grinder and proceeded to fill several buckets with corn meal. It was interesting to observe how much effort they put into the task when it was their idea! They suggested I bring some corn meal home to make cornbread. The meal is a little course, but one of these days, I will have to try it.
I am thankful for the lovely time we had reconnecting with family over the Christmas holiday time. Some day we will look back with fond memories of time spent together.