Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

27th December
written by Michelle


Dear Mija,

You’re 6 months old and doing fun things like siting up all by yourself, babbling and trying to pull yourself up. We spent a week in California at Nana & Papa’s and you seemed to especially like the lights on the tree and the big closet door mirrors. You weren’t so sure about Santa Claus, but you loved the extra hugs and kisses and I loved that there were extra arms to hold you for your naps. (yes, you still prefer to nap while being held. I have a love hate relationship with this fact)

This year we celebrated Christmas in Guatemala with Mama Hia and Papa Choyo and your tios and primos. In Guatemala Christmas means tamales & chuchitos, warm ponche and plates of grapes and red apples. There are fireworks for sale on every corner and your cousins know all the different types. There are fosforitos and chiltepitos, bombas and pistolitas and my personal favorite, estrellitas. I imagine one day you too will learn all the names for the different types. We went to Christmas Eve service at the church in San Antonio where your daddy grew up. You dressed up as an angel and had your first stage debut. We sang glo-o-o-o-o-O-o-o-o-o-O-o-o-o-o-O-ria (and by “sang” I mean lip-synced because mama’s voice really can’t do too many glorias). And then you slept nicely in my arms through the rest of the service.


Your Daddy and I haven’t really decided what Christmas traditions we want to keep as a family. Will we get a big tree and decorate our house? Maybe we’ll just do 3 gifts each? Most Guatemalan kids just get one gift- if that- and it’s usually something like new shoes or a new outfit. Will we do fire works and stay up till midnight on la nochebuena? I can make ponche, but haven’t yet mastered tamales. I like the idea of having stockings and cinnamon rolls and staying in our pjs on Christmas Day. Daddy likes the idea of giving gifts that are an experience, like going or doing something together as a family.


Mija, what I want you to know is that no matter whether we celebrate Christmas in Guatemala or in California or weather we eat cinnamon rolls or tamales or both, Christmas is really about something so much bigger.

It’s about a little baby. A little baby who came into the world just like you. A little baby boy who was born in a humble stable, probably surrounded by animals and hay and a tired and very sore mama. A baby boy who was Emmanuel, God with us.
It’s about how God sent his son, Jesus.
Sweetie, I won’t tell you I understand how all of this works. But I will tell you, that when you have faith to embrace this mystery you’ll realize that this little baby Jesus, really is the best gift.
Because if you want to know what God is like, you can look at Jesus.
There is a writer I really like. She has written a few books, but this is one of my favorite things she has written. It’s a Christmas Apology for what we have made the Christmas season into. And she writes about the Jesus that I hope you one day know:

“Jesus, who was born as an oppressed minority in an occupied land,

Jesus who was an immigrant,

Jesus, who surrounded himself with the poor, the sick, the marginalized and the “untouchables,”

Jesus who was criticized by the religious for hanging out with sinners,

Jesus who treated women with dignity and respect,

Jesus who taught his disciples to love their enemies,to give without expecting anything in return, to overcome evil with love,

Jesus who suffered,

Jesus who wept,

[and] Jesus who while hanging on a Roman cross said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Elena, I hope and pray that your daddy and I can show you who this Jesus is. And that at Christmas time while we’re eating tamales and cinnamon rolls, we will celebrate his birth.


Merry 1st Christmas, Mija!

With All My Love,










1st January
written by Michelle


Thanks to facebook, instagram and the twitterworld many of you already know that…

come June 2013 we will have a family of THREE.

We are beyond excited and amazed that there is a little one growing inside of me. Sometimes I still can’t believe it. But at our 12 week appointment we indeed saw it- flipping, swimming, and moving about. Our midwife’s first comment: wow, you got an active little one.

So, dear active one, here is your entrance into the blogspshere:


We think he/she is the cutest thing ever, but you can say it looks like a small alien. No offense taken.

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For the past three months we have kept this little one a secret, partly because we wanted to make sure everything was ok. I know miscarriages are common the first 12 weeks and we wanted to be cautious. But also, we wanted to wait and tell my parents and family in person. We shared with G’s family before we left Guatemala, but I wanted to tell my family when we arrived. It’s the first baby on my family’s side and I knew they would be excited. And excited they were.

We told my parents a week before Christmas and made them promise to keep it a secret. That involved convincing my Dad that he could not in fact use it for a sermon illustration at the Christmas Eve services.

mom’s first response: ooohhh, I knew it! congratulations!

dad’s first response: awwww, we’re so happy for you! I wana tell all of my friends.

Then, gathered around the Christmas tree last Tuesday morning my siblings (well, one via facetime) all opened cards with a picture of the ultrasound:

steph: Whhhhaaaattt?!?!

christine: {a huge GASP} oh, my gosh.

andrew: {fist pump} Yeaha!


 {evidence of the gasp }

And because my family shares an affinity for social media the news was shared on facebook, twitter and instagram. This little one is going to have so much love from all these aunts/uncles and grandparents.


We have felt so loved and supported with all the comments and excitement. Sharing baby news definitely earns you popularity points in the land of facebook. It’s all felt exciting, special and so, very 21st century.

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It has been so fun to share, because for the previous 3 months we were pretty silent about the whole baby news (and silent here on the blog, too- partly due to my daily napping requirement : )

So what does one do when you are kept waiting and holding a little secret?


Yep, I joined pinterest.

Thankfully, pinterest announced their secret boards right about when I was excited/overwhelmed with the amount of info out there in this crazy new baby world. So, I’ve been pinning away on these boards:


Baby on the Brain



Bilingual Baby


A New Mama


It can feel like there is so SO much out there for new moms and babies. I can get swept up in reading about the best car-seat or homemade baby food and magical swaddle sacks that promise a well rested baby. But then I remind myself that people have been having healthy babies way before there was the BreastPillow, the Ergo and SwaddleMe Blankets.

So, here’s to a New Year, learning about pregnancy and motherhood and not believing I have to have everything I see on pinterest.

Happy New Years and Merry Christmas!


Me, G and Baby P


21st December
written by Michelle

It is Monday morning and I am not in school. Usually at this time I would be in 2nd period, taking attendance and reminding my ever-so forgetful freshmen to take out their silent reading books, but not today. nope. Today I am sitting in my pajamas with uggs on my feet and a cup of tea in my hands. And it is glorious.

I like many things about my job, but the fact that I am 27 and still get a 2-week Christmas vacation is definitely up there! It’s a rough life, but someone’s gotta do it.

Here’s to Winter Break, 2 week vacations and no bells dictating the structure of my day.

21st December
written by Michelle

For the past 10 days we have not had internet at the house. Something happened with our cable or modem and thus interrupted the usual, continuous flow of wireless signals that keeps me and my computer connected to the outside world. After a few initial days of withdrawals and lamenting frustrations that I could not return emails from home or read my favorite blogs or peruse for book deals, I actually started to like life without internet.

I started to like evenings without my computer. I started to like the freedom that comes from being able to say I’ll do it tomorrow, instead of feeling pressure to get everything done today. I started to like that my main form of communication with friends was not through some virtual wall, but through real life, face-to-face conversations. And I started to notice that during this Christmas season, one that often feels too busy and over scheduled, I have actually had more time to soak it up and enjoy it. Instead of dreading the stress and sometimes loneliness of Christmas, I have felt really, really thankful.

There have been nights with friends over for dinner and too many rounds of speed scrabble. Christmas music and red wine with my roommates. I remembered how much I like writing old fashioned letters and making little crafty projects. I got to enjoy fires in our fireplace. Serving dinner at the Rescue Mission. Christmas parties with friends. Lots of tea drinking and movie watching. I learned how to make tamales and was introduced to pozolé for the first time. And I even managed to crawl into bed a little bit earlier most nights.

Now, internet and computers and any type of life-enhancing-technological device for that matter are obviously not bad, but we’d be naive to dismiss the fact that they do change something. And despite all the hype about making our life easier and more efficient, I actually believe they do quite the opposite. The megabytes of information that are flashed before us and the instant gratification of texting a message in a 140 characters or less affect how we live and think and interact with each other. I am not some fanatic who is going to do away with my cell phone and computer and the convenience of modern technology. No, of course not…like you I enjoy it and use it daily. But I am coming to believe that many of the ways we interact relationally and even how we structure our daily lives is directly related to the technology that we consume.

I am sure scientists somewhere have done fascinating studies about how these things actually and measurably affect out physical, emotional and spiritual health. But I haven’t done a lot of research on the subject yet. All I know is that growing up my dad always used to tell me, “When you say yes to something, you are by default saying no to something else.” And sometimes I wonder what do I or we, say no to because we’ve said yes to this high-speed digital age of convenience?

7th December
written by Michelle

I like gifts. I like getting them and probably equally, I like giving them. In fact I think five of my favorite words to hear are, “I got something for you.” My heart kind of skips a beat and I am almost instantly filled it this giddy, childish excitement. Now, I realize by admitting this I sound like a greedy, gift-obsessed excuse for a human being, but hear me out. It’s not about the gift as much as the thought behind it. Ask my roommates or closest friends-even the simplest of items, albeit a recycled plastic cup, a new pad of post-it notes or a bar of dark chocolate, all constitute a gift in my mind. We are talking small things, with maybe little or no monetary value. Just small, thoughtful gifts, heck even free things and garage-sale things. All are gifts in my mind.

Part of this probably has to do with how I grew up. My mom and dad were superb at bringing home little treasures and “gifts” from weddings they attended or conferences they were at. They’d walk in and say “Michelle, we got something for you.” And that was all it took. With eager eyes and anticipation, I would tear open the little bag to find a collection of hotel containers, filled with shampoo, conditioner and lotion…and even an occasional shower cap! Other times my parents would creatively sneak a few extra wedding favors left over on the tables in order to bring them home for us kids. I cannot tell you how excited I got for those little mesh bags filled with mints tied in purple ribbon. (Parents: don’t under estimate how exciting these little goodies can be for kids).

All this being said, we enter the Christmas season where we’re supposed to buy, buy, buy and then give, give, give. It’s all about gifts, so naturally you would think someone like me would love it, right?

But I don’t.

I mean I do like Christmas, but I don’t like all of the pressure and urgency to buy everyone and their mother gifts. Sometimes I feel like we miss the point of giving gifts when there is the underlining sense of obligation. And in recent years I’ve started to question why and when did Christmas become defined by the marketing and materialistic kings of corporations. Now, before I start to sound like the Scrooge who stole Christmas, know that there is obviously nothing wrong with gifts. I know for most kids, gifts are synonymous with Christmas. But because I don’t have kids yet, maybe I have a little more room to think through what Christmas and gift giving means to me.

A few years ago some pastors from various churches started re-thinking how we celebrate Christmas. They found out that America spends an average of $450 billion a year every Christmas. Wow. They asked what if we chose to do Christmas differently? And out of this, a movement called Advent Conspiracy was born to encourage faith communities, to Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All during this season. My church showed this film last night at our Saturday service (click here to watch it) and I felt simultaneously convicted and inspired. For as cliché as it sounds, the part that stuck out to me the most was the idea of giving the gift of presence, instead of presents. And then using the money we would have spent on that tangible present and in turn, giving it away.

In our fast paced, drive-through-Starbucks-kinda-culture, I am learning that the gift of presence is rare, but so desirable. I think more than anything else this Christmas season I want to be with people. I want to share a meal with friends and linger longer around the table. I want to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and laugh with my sisters. I want to give away money I would have spent on excess gifts and instead spend a leisurely evening walking downtown, sipping hot cocoa and looking at lights.

I want this Christmas to be different.

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17th December
written by Michelle

This made me laugh. If I was the kind of person who sent out Christmas letters I might just put this front and center.

Merry Christmas!