Born @ 27 weeks
2lbs 7oz

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas ‘Presence’

I have been known to finish a good book and leave it purposefully in the back of a cab or in the back pocket of an airplane seat for the next person to find and enjoy. Sometimes I leave a note, sometimes not. My hope is they, too, will pass it on.

We are not fans of saving an expensive bottle of wine for a 'special occasion'. We usually write who or where the bottle is from on the label, then smile and toast the memory, on a random weekday night.

I burn Christmas candles in July, if I like the scent. We sip champagne with cheeseburgers on our fine china. We try to remind ourselves that we have gifts every day, instead of just at Christmas time.

Our goal is to instill this philosophy (among many others) in our children and hoping it will spill into their families one day. There are so many little things we want to teach our boys. But we had no idea just how much they would be teaching us this year…

One of my favorite Christmases was when Michael and I were on the island of Langkawi a few years ago. Malaysia is 90% Muslim, so our attempt to find a Christian Christmas Eve service was beyond challenging. Finally, we found a Hindu/Christian Indian that agreed to host a secret service. Christmas Eve morning, we snuck into a closed bakery, converted into a chapel with folding chairs and a pulpit made of stacked books and celebrated our Christmas. While I could only understand every third word of the sermon, we were present. We sang familiar Christmas hymns and tears welled in our eyes with pride.

That particular Christmas, Michael and I chose to make our Christmas presents for one another. We went in our different directions at a Maylay market and agreed to meet up again later with our supplies. We would spend the remainder of the afternoon ‘building’ our gift to one another. (Those that know us well, know how competitive we are. You can imagine the building banter and anticipation of who could ‘out do’ the other). We each were only allowed to spend seven US dollars. (Sidenote – To this day, Michael swears I cheated by asking the concierge for tape and colored markers, when he purchased all of his supplies. I like to argue I was ‘resourceful’. J)

Christmas Eve, we separated to make our presents and I think I spent more time that day, walking the beach and reflecting on the year and blessings than I have any other year – until this one. We weren’t at the mall, sitting in traffic, saying to one another ‘Do we have enough presents for xxx?’ We made a Christmas tree out of masking tape and random palms found around the resort so we would have a little place to open our presents on Christmas morning.

This year, our boys continuously remind us to be present.

While we are guilty of getting caught up with who and what to give to others, we are still very conscious of our blessings this year – and what a long year it has been. Clearly, the hardest year of our lives to date and miraculously, that same year brought one of the two biggest blessings in our lives.

We are so grateful this year for our boys – our beautiful, perfect, little boys. We are blessed for our friends and family that continue to show us support and have throughout this year. We have good, good friends. Last week, I mentioned to my friend, Keiran, that the boys and I were under the weather and I had been up all night with baby Shaw. The next day, a delicious lasagna appeared. She knew from my voice that I was struggling. Those are blessings. My Mom babysat the boys last week, getting up extra early and squeezing in a few hours for us before she had to work, allowing Michael and I to go to church - a tremendous blessing. Seeing my Grandmother, our parents and watching Nash play with his aunts, uncles and cousins on Christmas Eve – such a blessing. Diane and Ms. Helen driving 2.5 hours (one way) just to meet Baby Shaw (the baby their church has prayed for all year) on Christmas Day – abundant blessings. The book Michael made me for Christmas, entitled SuperMom.J My husband = my favorite blessing.

Thanks to Baby Shaw, we are recognizing the blessings that seem to be all around us – whether it is finding a top-seller in the back of a cab, a warm and needed hug from a sister-in-law, listening to Nash sing “Happy Birthday Jesus” or the 5:30am cooing wake-up from Baby Shaw.

We just have to be present to recognize them.

Not only have we been present, we received three very special presents this year:
1)    You can guess the first – Sweet Avery Shaw Richter.
2)    Baby Shaw has his first (two) teeth
3)    NO MORE MONITOR!!!!! At almost a year old, Shaw has officially graduated!!! YAHOO.

Merry Christmas. Blessings are abundant – just as God intended. 

Our Langkawi Christmas 2009

The only thing Nash asked Santa for Christmas was a hotdog. 
Clearly, enjoying it Christmas morning. Santa traded the dog in for his cookies.

Baby Shaw already into trouble under Nonnie's tree.

Bring it on, Santa! The boy's first Christmas together.

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