So many things come to mind when I think of Christmas and what it means to me. Though I love parties, gift exchanges, ice skating, and watching my favorite Christmas movies, those things aren’t what I love the most about this time of year. Christmas is when I get to celebrate a pivotal time in my faith. In the hustle, I always slow down and re-read each account of Jesus’ birth in the New Testament, and am overwhelmed with wonder and gratitude.
Christmas is also one of the few times my entire family gets to be together. The greatest gift I have is my family and the opportunity to be with them.
Grace is the youngest. Mom had her when I was a senior in high school. With 5 older brother and sisters, she’s wise beyond her years. Grace is the one who asks me about my heart, and grabs my hand as soon as I get home because she wants to show me her room. When she found out about my new tattoo she FaceTimed me immediately and said “that’s interesting… and have you told mom yet?” She’s got an old soul, and she keeps me honest.
My sister Lilly is 15, and she’s almost taller than me. She has always had a tender soul, but she takes after me in that she does not like to be told what to do (I used to prance around the house saying “you’re not the boss of me,” only to find myself grounded). Lilly is an athlete, and a go-getter, and her faith is so sweet. We talk on SnapChat, and I try not to be overprotective, even though a part of me wants to tell her not to date until she’s 25. Some of my favorite moments with her are right before bed when we get to cuddle and talk about anything and everything.
Laura Lee is 22, and she lives and works in Austin, Texas. She starts our phone calls with “Hey Girl…” and always wants to know about my dating adventures and dreams, and she constantly encourages me to play big in my life. Last week I called her after a really hard day. I was so exhausted I was almost in tears, and my body ached like I’d run a marathon. She promptly sent me some money through Venmo so I could get a massage the next day. That’s how Laure Lee is: thoughtful, outward focused, ambitious, and loyal. She will drive to Dallas for a few hours to see Lilly play basketball, or to visit our Gaw-Gaw.
Caroline is 25, and a sweetheart. She finished working for Teach for America last year, and continues to work with at-risk youth. She’s like a mother hen and wherever she goes she has little chick following behind her. Caroline has picked up kids and taken them to school, and she deeply cares about and loves her students. I always tell her she’s doing kingdom work, and the ripple effect of her love impacts so many people. She’s the one who will watch Whitney Houston’s Cinderella with me for the 100th time and sing every song, and then cuddle next to me and talk about life.
My step sister Amanda and my step brother Don are new to the family, along with my wonderful stepmom Sallyanne. Don lives out of state, and I’m looking forward to getting to know him. Amanda is fun, outgoing, and thoughtful, and there isn’t much she can’t do. During our family vacation this summer she said, “I want to learn how to do a handstand,” and 15 minutes later she did it! Amanda has been in the Army for years and done multiple tours overseas. She does it all with ease and she inspires me.
My brother Paul (or Petey as I call him) is a saint for putting up with 4 younger sisters. Paul rarely misses one of Lilly’s games, and spends time with our little sisters by playing board games or taking them to the movies. He is a deep thinker, an avid reader, and listens to really cool indie music. He’s the one that plans all of us to go the Star Wars on opening night, and going to the Dallas Mavericks game together because why not create a new family tradition?
My dad and his wife Sallyanne
Me and my mom
And then there’s my parents: Mom, Danny (note to self: get portrait of Mom + Danny over Christmas…they can’t escape my camera any longer!!), Dad, and Sallyanne. I think my family is what it is today, and we’re close the way we are because of them. We’re not an easy bunch, and I gave my parents lots of trouble and heartache growing up. But I can honestly say that I cannot imagine being in any other family.
I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. Merry Christmas friends. I hope and pray for rest, and joy, and laughter, and peace for each of you! And egg nog! Lots of egg nog!