The Best Gifts

Despite my attempt at unbusyness (there’s a new word for you, Webster), my desire to slow…down…time and to somehow stop the ticking of the clock, Christmas came and went all too quickly.

I always look forward to a full house and the life my children bring with them, some more literally than others this year! Casey, with her very obvious baby bump which houses not one, IMG_0463but three wee babes. She and Noah love when family returns and though tired herself, Casey was busy readying beds, cooking and making carrot cake while I was off collecting Cam and Meg. It was a blessing for Noah to have time off to be home over the
holidays too – time is such a gift. He is a caring husband and wears fatherhood well.

It was late when Carleigh and Rylan walked in the door Monday. They had a full day in Toronto followed by a battle to get out of the city and the long, dark drive here. Despite the hour, we awaited them eagerly and greeted them with open arms. I waited until off came her coat and there…there the life in her was evident. I put my hands to the bump that houses her very own “belly dweller”. Life is a gift.

Declan, Rhys and Tess were counting down the days til Christmas; of course for the children, Christmas is exciting for many reasons, not least of all which are the gifts! But they also love to see their older siblings and they soak up as much time as they are willing to give. I so appreciate them for it! It’s a special time for my wee socialite in particular; more people to talk to, or at. IMG_0498More hugs and cuddles, which our Tess never grows weary of. I watched how Carleigh gave of her time, her affection, her love. She will be a beautiful momma to the child that makes his or her home within her, close to her heart. It was exciting to watch as she and Rylan experienced the flutters of the baby. Rylan is so very attentive to her; that he loves her, there is no doubt and that too is such a gift to this momma.  Love is a gift.

I watched when big sister Meg sat Tess down to teach her how to French knit, patiently IMG_0462dispensing encouragement. Meg is a gracious giver of her time, her talent and her treasure. Grace is a gift. As soon as there was enough snow to pack into a ball, Cam was outside with the munchkins making snowballs, a very large Knight to his princess. His job is to protect, which he accomplished handily, ensuring Tess’ victory against her brothers. As I sit here, I can hear their giggles as Cam rallies them to play. No one giggles like our Declan! Laughter is a gift.

Though Ben and Buhle weren’t with us, the gift of modern technology allowed us to skype with them Christmas day and we eagerly anticipate their visit at Easter. We were so proud of both of them when they struck off last January and headed west. They weren’t in Calgary long before they had found a place to call home and a job for each of them. They have both since moved on to different jobs, better jobs, but they wouldn’t be where they are now without taking that first step. Faith is a gift.  Ben will begin Law school in September, more great news we shared this past fall.

Laughter, food, fun and games; conversation, relaxation and naps for those in need.

Noah, Casey and Nathaniel packed up and headed out Boxing Day to spend time with their family in Kemptville. They left a bit of a hole here; Nathaniel at 16.5 months surely makes his presence known. Lovingly referred to as Bam Bam, he is ALL boy, but such a sweet one who definitely knows how to play to a crowd. Casey and Noah shared exciting news this fall that they were expecting their own addition. It wasn’t long afterward that we were learned that she was carrying triplets! The initial feelings of shock soon gave way to our absolute thankfulness; we deeply believe that children are a gift from God and here we found ourselves on the receiving end of four new grandchildren come spring! We are all thrilled, and that quickly enough gave way to reality and the need for a plan. I think we all came to the understanding around the same time that this was going to require a team effort and so we extended an invitation to them to move in with us. We would relish your prayers for Casey and the babies, but also for Noah, Nathaniel and our family. Prayer is a gift.

The following day, Brad and Cam left to return Meg to the Sault and her responsibilities. Brad and Cam stayed for a couple days to hang cupboard doors and lay flooring. Meg purchased her first home in April and has been living in somewhat of a construction zone since. Despite the disruption, she has opened her home to company and overnight guests. Her friend Ange has also made her home there with her, which seems to be a mutually beneficial relationship! Her brand new kitchen space is moving along, and it won’t be long and she’ll be using that new space. In the meantime, I think that her ability to open her home in its current state says something wonderful about the person that she is. Despite what can sometimes feel like chaos and messiness, she is generous and hospitable. Hospitality is a gift from the heart.

10883055_10155145983370556_111790364_oCarleigh and Rylan left shortly after. There were no tears this time from Tess; soon to be 7, she is growing up, and fast. I don’t have to look too far to be reminded of this fact. Carleigh will be half way through her pregnancy tomorrow. This New Year will bring many sweet, new things for she and Rylan to discover together, in addition to the birth of their first born. It doesn’t seem that long ago Brad and I were eagerly awaiting the arrival of our first and now we anticipate a house full of grandchildren. Family is a gift.

This is the first time we’ve had Cam home since he left last Christmas. Tomorrow Brad and I will IMG_0494head out to return him to Ypsilanti. He’s completed his education, obtained his undergraduate degree, finished his College football career and found his bride. Cam and Brooke were engaged
in October; it was a fall filled with good news and many reasons to celebrate. Brooke is completing her internship and has a two year contract at Grand Valley University where she will be the athletic trainer for the baseball and volleyball teams. On top of that, she’ll also be completing her Masters! Education and learning are gifts.

There were two themes that were repeated throughout the Christmas season for me: the first

was Joy. That little 3 letter word was showing up everywhere – I speak of the joy that isn’t dependent upon circumstances, but flows from a grateful heart. I’m not a resolution maker, but I have determined to make a point to be more mindful of all I have to be grateful for. 10858452_10155090239840556_8880758503005588833_n (2)Gratefulness and Joy are gifts.

“Joy is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a settled state of contentment, confidence and hope.”

The second echo for me came from a song the church choir sang on Christmas Eve “Do you have room”.  I so enjoy being a part of the choir!  As we practiced during the weeks leading up to Christmas, I often found myself humming the tune; little did I know that the question – do you have room? – would bury itself deep within my soul.  Do you have room?

“Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus.” -Neal A. Maxwell

Life and Learning,
Love and Attention,
Laughter and Fun,
Joy that comes from a grateful heart, and
Jesus, the greatest gift.

The best gifts didn’t come wrapped under the tree.  The best gifts are those that I will treasure and continue to lay hold of throughout the coming year.

From our home to yours, Happy New Year!


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