A picture says 1167 words

I know the party is over but man, if I don’t record this for my mother and posterity I will hate myself forever.  So here is our Christmas photo recap because sometimes words just don’t cut it. I’m going to break it down for you. My favorite Christmas memories in whatever order they appear.


1. My sister Laura – Laura is number 9 and I’m number 11 in our family. She’s one of my best friends and has had a very big year. The girl needed a getaway so we coaxed her out to Germany for Christmas. She came for just over 2 weeks and we had such a wonderful time together. Strasbourg, Heidelberg, Rothenburg plus various castles and Christmas markets in between. It was awesome to have all that time together and awesome to share our Christmas traditions with her.


2. Bedouin Dinner – On Monday the 23rd we got together with some of our good friends and had a full blown Bedouin dinner Family Home Evening. My friends came over that afternoon and we tented my upstairs and hung lanterns and put candles everywhere, then we made traditional Bedouin dishes like Chicken Tagine and rice and all the other yummy middle eastern foods you eat with your hands when living in a tent. We lit the candles, played some soft Turkish music and ate on the floor in costume. It was A-MAZE-ING. Completely worth the 341 staples I had to pull out of my walls to take it all down. Sorry, no pictures of the event all lit up with costumes because cameras weren’t invented yet. Also I was too busy to take any pictures.






3. Our 12 days of holy-cow-I-forgot-to-finish-the-Shepherd knock and run Nativity for the neighbors. Here’s a picture she sent me of the finished product, it was so much fun even if I was usually burning my fingers with hot glue every night at 9 pm. On Christmas Eve we took Baby Jesus over and did our traditional Mexican Caroling.
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4. Mexican Caroling – Last year, in an attempt to convince my kids to go caroling, I came up with Mexican Caroling to make it sound better. We take maracas and instruments and sing Felize Navidad to our neighbors. This year we took my sister and our good friends the Pethels and the missionaries with us and went around my neighborhood. It was so cool, my German neighbors all got teary, who knew that song was so spiritual? We will do this every year until I die.

5. Our Homemade Christmas Angel gifts – There almost aren’t words for me to describe what a great experience this was. I must tell you, my kids wanted to do WAY more with it than I had scheduled for myself. I thought Rex would just spray a basket and throw a pillow in it but no, he had to MAKE a pillow with cotton balls. And then he had to make a blanket. And then he had to decorate the blanket with 10 hearts. Not one, not two, but ten. This kid did all the work himself, I didn’t tell him what to do (except to beg him to stop adding to his gift so I could finish the wise man due that night). He ran the pedal for all the sewing and wrapped it himself.


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Harrison’s finished bear and June helping Georgia make my gift (thank you Daddy for taking a picture).

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Just shy of 15 years ago I made Jason a quilt. We were dating and I found out he was still sleeping with the ratty old blanket his ex-girlfriend had made him before his mission. This threw me into a quilting frenzy. In my attempt to outdo her tackily tied POC (I hate ex-girlfriends) I kind of overshot. The batting was so thick by the time I was done hand quilting it that we have never been able to use it.

I cut it apart last spring to requilt it and surprise him for his birthday in May. Then I was going to have it ready for Father’s Day in June. Then our anniversary…you see where this is going.

I drew Jason’s name for Christmas and decided to get my act together and hand quilt the darn thing in December if it killed me.

It didn’t kill me. He was pretty impressed with the finished result.


But the best homemade gift came from Jason. Believe me, with two weeks to spare and kids who were working like mad on their gifts he started to have some serious anxiety.

“I’ve got no skills,” he said halfway through December. “I can’t make anything.”

“Wrong,” I said. “You took that framing class on base a few months ago. Print off some pictures of you and June and frame them. Go.” I had no time for whining from big people, he was on his own.

We gathered together in the living room on Christmas Eve with our angel gifts. IMG_1849My kids were so excited. We went youngest to oldest so Georgia gave me my new necklace first. Precious.

Next went June who gave Harrison his old chess set repainted and refurbished. He loved it.

Then Rex gave Georgia her gift. It was a huge hit.

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After that Harrison gave Rex his gift. I don’t know if you happen to have boys and whether or not they get along, but mine aren’t always so patient with each other. As a mommy I like to imagine that they are best buds who do everything together even though the reality is usually morning shouting matches in the bathroom over who’s using the better sink. I think this gift was really special for them. IMG_1859 IMG_1863








I can’t begin to describe in words how much this brought Jason and June together. Jason is hard on June as a rule. She’s a big personality and has really challenged us. But when she was a baby she was his sweetheart and they adored each other. Working with all those old baby pictures definitely reminded him that she was just his little girl, and receiving them touched her six year old heart in an old soul way. See for yourself, the pictures tell it all. We were all ugly crying by the time the night was over.

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It was a wonderful Christmas and I’m trying really hard not to think about this being our last over here in this non-commercialized, Savior centered country where there is no Target to distract me from what really matters. I only hope next year I can take what we’ve learned and build on it.

So here’s to our upcoming goals and changes and plans and dreams. My word this year was going to be skinny but even I can’t bring myself to be that shallow (unless shallow means thin then perhaps it’s a contender as well). Instead I’m going with plucky. This year I want to be brave and happy and open and resiliant and I’ve decided that “plucky” is just the word for me.

Happy New Year, it’s going to be a big one.

Here’s the link to our family singing Feliz Navidad.IMG_1919 IMG_1925 IMG_1923


  1. Tiffany idiart says:

    You are too cool! What a great mom, example and amazing lady you are. Loved reading about your traditions. And I LOVED your christmas card. You rock woman! Maybe one of these days we will reconnect in the Pacific Northwest. love you! xoxo

  2. Well Annie, from #1 to #11, I just want you to know how much I love you and am so proud of the unique, incredible woman you are. You leave your mark wherever you go, Ann, because you see possibilities and not limitations. Thank you for sharing you Christmas with us. I love the idea of a Christ-centered community without the commercialism. Can’t wait to see you later this year. Love ya!!

  3. I wish I lived in a place that was extremely less commercialized at Christmas. I would give anything for that. We saw a glimps of it this year as I yanked my family towards personal homemade gifts etc. like you. It turned out to be only one was homemade, but it was the absolute best present of my whole life. Gifts of the heart really are the best! (Even though thay are the hardest to get prepared.)