December is always full of events and love and traditions. And if I'm not careful, I can let all of that translate into stress. But this December I have tried to let the joy and magic in while blocking that persistent stress. Our December started out with a trip to the Smith center - just Brian and me - to listen to the symphony and choir perform the Messiah.
It was absolutely incredible and started off our season with a beautiful dose of the magic only music and Christ can bring.
Shortly after that, a package arrived in the mail, and Daniela opened it to find her very own Nana-made Christmas stocking that we hung on the mantle right smack in the center of the rest of ours.
She felt loved and included and it made my heart smile to have her smile so big. This Christmas has been very difficult for her, as you can imagine, with her family celebrating all of their own family traditions so far away from her.
One night just before we left to travel up to Utah for my brother's wedding, I noticed she was struggling more than usual. And on further investigation I found out that the day was Dia de las Velitas, "day of the little candles" and the start of the Christmas season for her family and culture. She knew her family would be celebrating with song and dance and food and candles all through the night... without her.
I felt the importance of it all, so we paused our preparations in getting out the door, and pulled out all of the little candles we could find.
We lit them all and listened as Dani sang a beautiful tribute to the virgin Mary.
We cried and hugged and I felt so grateful to be able to pause right in the middle of chaos to remember why we are celebrating this season.
We sure love our Dani.
As Christmas got closer, we all made our way to the church for a night of music and celebration at the ward Christmas party. Ethelyn Peterson played a fun and spirited rendition of Sleigh Ride on the organ.
She is one of my favorite people. Always sharing a smile and a kind word. Always remembering names and spreading love straight from her heart. And she is an incredibly accomplished world renowned organist who we are blessed to have in our ward.
Also fun was watching all these men, including Brian, get up and sing Fruitcake with their awkward smiles and funny personalities. How I love our ward!
And when we went up to Utah for my brother's wedding, we all spent a healthy amount of time around Nana and Poppy's beautiful Christmas tree. My mom had the train all set up, and a big carton of mints within reach of everyone.
At one point I thought it would be funny to get a shot of all those mints showering down on everyone, so I told Carson to throw it all up into the air once I had my camera ready. The kids were surprised that I was giving him permission to make a giant mess, but he happily complied. I didn't love the end result of the picture, except for the fact that all five kids are in the frame looking like themselves.
Merry Christmas, everyone!