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I love the season of Christmas, but my favorite day of the entire year is Christmas eve.  It is a very slow and relaxed day and this morning we woke up to a foot of new snow.  There is nothing like fresh snow to make everything look beautiful.  This is the morning that I make calls to friends that live in other states and chat with them over a cup of tea and catch up on life.  But this is the day that we as a family all look forward to as we worship with the body of believers and celebrate the birth of THE one who willingly gave up heaven for a manger and was on a mission his whole life and 30+ years later gave up his life to pay the price for my sin!  It is a precious time.

This day is special as Giovanna will light the advent candle at the Christmas eve service at 4:30.  The Christmas eve service is one that we look forward to all year.  It is a lovely time of celebration with the body and tonight is especially significant as our youngest child Giovanna will lead the procession in as we begin worship and light the last advent candle.  This is the last time anyone from our family will have this priviledge.   Once we get back from that early service, we will have a light supper and then open the gifts in the Christmas Stockings and this year everyone’s stocking is complete and hanging up!  What a joy to watch the kids faces as they dig through their stockings and open up the gifts that have been picked out for them.  Courtney has been reminded of how much she loved last year’s gifts in her stocking – even more than what was under the tree!  Over the years what has gone into the stockings has changed, but the sheer fun of picking out those items has remained.

We will finish dinner and the stockings just in time to leave for the late Christmas eve service and this year Courtney will be one of the readers at this service.  This service starts at 10:45 and ends right around midnight – Christmas morning.  What a way to bring in the day.  I have been bringing in Christmas morning this way since I was a teenager – my dad and I would always go to the 11 PM service and be the first to wish each other Merry Christmas right at midnight.  When Gary and I lived in California, most years he would call me shortly after midnight Pacific time, just to wish me a Merry Christmas.  It has been such fun to be remembered by my dad in this way.  This year, I will be the one calling him after we get home from the service.

Most of the kids are not as eager to get up early as they  know that we won’t the gifts under the tree until after breakfast on Christmas morning.  However that hasn’t dampened their enthusiasm one bit.  I have seen my 18 and 15 year olds checking out the stockings and the boxes under the tree – trying to determine what is in each one!  My 18-year-old has even been caught putting her hand into the stockings – not hers  but others just to see what is in there!  It warms my heart to see their excitement!

May you all have a wonderful Christmas and celebrate the real reason for the season!