As Christmas draws near, I thought a little "mother-daughter Christmas interview" with Amy and Jonelle might be a fun change of pace. A co-worker asked some questions and got us thinking about our experiences with family and Christmas. Enjoy!
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Christmas?
Me: It's a chance to remember that Jesus willingly left his home in heaven to come live among us. That's pretty astonishing.
Do you have a funny Christmas memory?
Amy: My husband's family would often act out the Christmas story, so one year we tried that with the Holzmann extended family. I was Mary, so I took my 4-month-old son and stuck him under my sweatshirt as I rode on my brother-in-law "donkey" to the stable. There, I popped the baby out: "That's the easiest birth I've ever had." My sister almost fell off her chair, she was laughing so hard. When I'm with my family, we usually laugh pretty hard.
What's one of your favorite Christmas memories?
Jonelle: One of my favorite moments every Christmas Eve is when it's time to get the presents. My mom usually has piled them in the downstairs closets after collecting things all year and we can finally go and retrieve them! What fun to go down and grab a few, or now pass the nephews some light ones to carry up. Everyone is laughing and joking and excited.
Do you go to a candlelight service on Christmas Eve? Do you have other Christmas Eve traditions?
Me: We always attend a candlelight service on Christmas Eve. We eat dinner then send the kids to collect the gifts from downstairs. After multiple trips, we pass out the gifts in order and open them for hours. I give one larger gift per person and four smaller ones. And with the size of our family, that many gifts take a while to open.
Jonelle: It is wonderful to see the reaction for each new gift. I love the slow, methodical, laughing, joyous, loud time together. It is always very, very loud.
Does anything special go into your stockings?
Me: Small gifts wrapped in newspaper.
Amy: Mom SAYS she just puts "little" things in the stockings, but even though they may be little, they are really great. One year as a teen, I thought the stocking was the best part; each little thing was really a considerate teeny gift. We would get an ornament or two, and Mom cross-stitched a new ornament for all of us every year. Also wished-for CDs or books or jewelry, and we got to open all the gifts at our own pace, not waiting for each person.
How are you celebrating this year?
Me: I had John buy me some kid's handbells as one of my gifts. A constant (but not well-worked) dream is to make Christmas music together. This year, because Dave and Jonelle are going to be with his parents on Christmas Day, we plan to meet early in the day on Christmas Eve Day. We'll have the guys go to the movies together while the girls make and decorate sugar cookies. Then we'll eat a big meal, do some sledding (or go to the park, depending on the weather), attend church, eat some more, open gifts and laugh together.
Amy: I'm suppressing the reality that I won't be with my extended family this year. I have a vague desire to hide the children's larger gifts around the farm and send them on a scavenger hunt to find theirs, but that will depend on the weather, and my organization.
And, finally, do you remember a time when Christmas or the Incarnation took on a deeper meaning for you or your family?
Amy: The first year I was a mother, I was really struck that Mary had a child as small as my child, that she had to care for him (feed him, clean him, love him) and that he was God. It's powerful to realize!
I pray that however you would have answered these questions, God shows His care for your family in a special way this season. I'll let you know how the handbell experiment goes!