Many of you have asked, "How was your first Christmas in Hungary?"
Looking on past Christmases is a tapestry of memories for me. I remember unwrapping certain gifts and being elated with happiness, I remember candlelit services, bouncing around to all the relatives, tables and tables of food, laughter, joking around, Sunday school fellowships, work parties, being overwhelmed with activities on the calendar and loving every busy moment, excitement, that Christmas tree smell, ridiculous Christmas songs and also the sentimental ones that bring tears to your eyes, those great movies like Rudolf, White Christmas, Home Alone and Christmas Story. In our house it was always Little Women, While You Were Sleeping and Muppet Christmas Carol as well. Lots of time with family and friends.
I kinda felt I had to white the slate clean of everything I knew on celebrating Christmas the way I was used too and the way I grew up celebrating.
Leading up to Christmas (all the pre-holiday weeks after Thanksgiving) was really hard. Where we are located (all my suburban friends) we would call the boondocks. :) No chain stores, malls, gas stations, traffic lights, and around the holidays, no people... it seemed everyone left except us. Everyone had family to visit, traditional places and activities to go to and attend. Andy and I had many moments where it literally felt we were mourning Christmases past and traditions. We each spent some time reminiscing and crying on each others shoulders.
In the States we are used to parties, fellowships, shopping, Christmas displays and lights galore, Cantatas, family, musicals, singing Christmas carols in church, Christmas is everywhere and acknowledged by everyone for the whole month of Dec!
I think the 2 biggest things for us was the distance from family and not being part of a church family. We ached for both and how both have always played such a significant part of the holiday season for us. The warmth, fellowship, sharing about our past year and God's provision and grace, the involvement with activities and sharing laughs.
So leading up to Christmas was a struggle for us both. But we grew together as a family and came up with our own traditions and took the plunge into creativity to get through the season.
But... (I always seem to like when 'but' it mentioned in the Bible) :) we had an AMAZING Christmas day! Christmas Day was such an unexpected, much needed, surprise for us! We did what we wanted to and when we wanted too :) Yes, it was wonderful! I loved spending the day at home with my husband and girls playing, watching Christmas movies, baking cookies, reading about the birth of Baby Jesus, coloring and venturing outside. It was such a sweet, calm and relaxing day full of many precious moments, giggles from the girls, excitement, wonder and awe. I had such a blessed day living Christmas and watching Christmas come alive through Novalie and Eden.
The day began with Eden first waking up and immediately screaming with excitement at the lights on the tree and glistening of wrapped gifts! Which of course woke up Novalie who immediaetly ran out to see if Santa came. We all sat down and began reading the story of the coming of Baby Jesus. Now this is when we realized that from now on the Christmas Story will be read on Christmas Eve when the distraction and temptation of gifts is not mocking the girls in the face. We began reading from Daddy's Bible and then switched to a kid's Bible and by the end of the 3 paragraph, 1 page story Novie had her mitts on a present trying to sneakingly unwrap it.
We started with stockings and that was enough from Eden, we could not get her to unwrap another gift the whole morning she was too busy playing with the gifts from her stocking. Andy and I spent the day laughing, playing and experiencing Christmas through our adorable 18mo. and 3 year old. Which makes for the perfect Christmas!
All that to say this and answer your question ...leading up to Christmas was a struggle but Christmas Day was perfect!