As a kid, I remember thinking of Christmas as a mile-marker. I would look back over how much had changed from one year to the next. In high school, I’m sure I wondered if the next Christmas I would have a boyfriend. (Spoiler alert: I did not.) Or the year I went from not being able to drive (legally) to driving on my own. Then a couple of years later, I went from living at home to my first year in college. There were sad reflections too. The Christmas we spent with my aunt, knowing it would be her last. A couple of years before that, we gathered around my grandpa’s bed for his final Christmas—he passed away a couple of months after the new year. The following Christmases felt different. It wasn’t that it just felt like something was missing. Someone really was.
As an adult, I see Christmas mainly through the eyes of my kids. Last year, Rhett and Allie were 5 and 3 and they were both old enough to be excited about Christmas. Their eyes sparkled with the magic and lights, the wonder of what would be under the tree on Christmas morning. I never even brought up Santa, they remembered from the past year. Last Christmas, my belly had the hint of a baby bump—and we didn’t know if the growing baby was a boy or a girl. The overwhelming feeling of adding a third baby to the family was slowly wearing off, and finally, my appetite was back to normal—my days of nausea behind me. We celebrated with my family in Wyoming, with yet another empty space on Christmas Day—my cousin had passed away two months before Christmas.
This year, I know many people around the world will have empty places around their Christmas trees and tables. Maybe because someone passed away since last December, or maybe because they aren’t gathering together this year.
As I sit here writing this, I can’t help but wonder what Christmas 2021 will look like. Will masks be something we are talking about in the present tense or a thing of the past? (Let’s hope.) Will Rhett and Allie still believe in Santa? How many words will Nora be able to speak? I pray my family will still have the same people around the tree, even if we aren’t celebrating together.
Even though this Christmas won’t look like year’s past, I know from experience that no Christmas looks the same as the year before. There is always good and hard. But I believe both can exist together.
These are the good things I want to remember about 2020.
In January we remodeled our kitchen that was stuck in 1955—and it’s beautiful. I’m grateful for it every day, and haven’t once missed the orange carpet.
Nora was born on May 21st in an exciting roadside delivery. Adding a new baby to our family is at the top of my “Good List” for 2020. I don’t take it for granted what a blessing a new baby is—one wished and prayed for by many.
Rich turned 40! I don’t know if he would consider it a part of the “good list.” But I’m reminded every year that growing older is a gift that’s not afforded to everyone.
A few weeks before his birthday, we celebrated with friends. We rented a cabin on the river and the guys fished and the girls got pedicures. We ate good food, watched The Office, had cake, and relaxed.
We had another successful and safe harvest. I also survived my first summer and harvest season as a mom of three. I spent most of harvest cooking meals, with one half day spent driving a combine (with a three-month old in tow).
I kept the flowers in my garden boxes alive all summer—which is truly a miracle.
Rhett started kindergarten in August and can go in-person. We’re thankful for his teachers and the school for making it possible in this crazy year.
This year I was especially thankful to live in a rural area. With hundreds of acres surrounding us, the kids were able to run, play, and farm with dad, and life went on (mostly) as normal for them.
Rhett is learning to read and write and wrote me this note last week.
Allie started taking dance class once a week this fall and loves it. Since Rhett started school, there is a lot of talk at home about his teacher and class and learning, and Allie loves having her own teacher and class. She taught herself to write her name and is excited to be in school next year.
In October, Nora was baptized in the church I grew up in. When the pastor was pouring the water on her head (in the silent church) she had a huge blowout in her diaper. Rich remained calm under pressure and held onto her bottom to keep everything in place. He held it together long enough to finish the baptism and get a few family photos. Afterward, my mom admitted that at first she thought it was my sister passing gas and was worried she was getting sick. My sister was slightly offended.
Rich and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary in September. We spent the weekend before with the kids (on our first trip as a family of five) in Glacier National Park. We ate Chinese take-out and enjoyed the absolute beauty that is Glacier. On our actual anniversary, I baked a cake. Mostly because I like to eat cake.
Nora cannot wait to be on the move to keep up with her siblings. She thinks their crazy antics are hilarious. She just turned seven months old and her two bottom teeth came in at the same time. She is so happy and always has a smile on her face. Allie and I often say how much “we want to eat her!” Rich still finds this disturbing, but has come to terms with it three babies in.
Above all else, one thing remains the same—the true meaning of Christmas. We will be celebrating the birth of our Savior—and that is something great.