Saturday, December 28, 2013

Changing Traditions and a Borrowed Christmas Tree

When I was growing up, I was the kid who was big on tradition.  My sisters and I always went to my grandparents house the week before Christmas.  We decorated their tree, went Christmas shopping for our parents, and enjoyed our (usually) warm Florida Christmas.  My parents came driving in on Christmas Eve and the festivities began.  I loved traditions!  Little did I know all those years ago that my adult life would be focused around constantly changing traditions. In our early years of married life, we managed to form some family traditions, but then things changed a few years ago when God called us to a different life in a different place.

Christmas 2010 - Our last Christmas in our home in South Carolina
Christmas 2011- Our last Christmas (for a while) in the USA
Last year was our first Christmas in Mexico.  Christmas in Puebla, Mexico was beautiful...the lights, the music, the firecrackers (okay, maybe not the firecrackers).  We knew we were going to be moving many times that year and didn't want to invest in a tree and decorations that we'd have to pack up and carry around with us.  I decided to get crafty and make a felt tree that we could decorate and then roll up and take with us!  It worked for the first year (everything was still new and exciting to the kids).

Our felt tree and homemade Christmas PJ's 2012! 
Fast forward a year...after a long year of moving around, the kids are ready to have a home (which will actually become a reality in the next few months).  We decided to spend Christmas at our training center in Oaxaca since other families with kids would be here as well.  After digging around our storage room and finally finding our small bag of decorations, we set up our felt tree again.  The kids were happy to have it up, but every now and then one would ask, "When can we have a real tree with lights and decorations?"   There is just something about having a tree.

Our first Christmas tree sighting of the season in Metepec 2013.
After posting something about our decorations on Facebook, a sweet friend offered to lend us her tree since she and her husband would be spending Christmas in the States with their children.  It was such a thoughtful offer, and we decided to surprise the kids.  They were very surprised.  They both kept saying over and over again that this was going to be the best Christmas ever!  Who knew a tree could be such a big blessing!

Decorating "our" tree
I think Kieran could have decorated it all night.
We even printed off a star for the top!
The other night when I was putting Kieran to bed, he told me that the best thing about Christmas was making sweet memories together.  I think that is a great perspective.  We have managed to keep a few traditions going, but most importantly, we have focused on making sweet memories together no matter where we are or what we are doing on Christmas Day! 
Elyse hosted her first Christmas tea for her friends.
Christmas morning! 
We have no idea where we will be next Christmas or what Christmas will look like at the Toler house.  We do know one thing for sure; we can celebrate His birth in a small cinder block house in the village or in a large city with a fancy tree.  Either way, the Hope that was born over 2000 years ago is worth celebrating. 

May God bless you and your family this Christmas season and into the New Year!  Enjoy your traditions, old and new, but most of all, have fun making sweet memories together and remember the reason we celebrate!

¡Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año!
The Toler Family