The calendar may say that Christmas is over...but not for the Sullivans! We've actually been celebrating Christmas for nearly two weeks now. We had our Persenaire family gathering in Mountain Home the weekend before Christmas, enjoyed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with just our little family at home, and will be heading to Van Buren to celebrate with the Sullivans this weekend. We're going to be ready to go back to work and school Monday, just to get a break from all this merry-making! (Not really.)
Emotionally, this Christmas has been far better than last year. We've enjoyed reminiscing and talking about good memories of our Christmases with Hannah. Back in early December, I mentioned in one of my posts that we were going to start collecting JOY items to place on our Christmas tree and also to put in Hannah's room. Oh. My. Word! Since that post, I have received so many fun and JOY-filled surprises from some very sweet friends. I certainly wasn't expecting that! And I can't tell you what an encouragement that has been to me over these last couple of weeks. And as I carefully put them all away this week, I actually felt a sense of excitement and anticipation about getting them out (and adding to the collection) next Christmas. I haven't been excited about Christmas for the past three years...so that's a big deal! What a great reminder of the JOY that only Jesus can bring!
There's something else I'm looking forward to this weekend. Last year, after we finished opening all the presents with the Sullivan side of the family and things had quieted down a bit, we asked each one of our extended family members to do something special for someone in 2010 in Hannah's memory. We requested that they write it down in a card, put it in an envelope, and put it under the Christmas tree this year. So on Saturday night, after all the presents have been opened and the chaos is over, we'll open all of those cards and read what everybody did in memory of Hannah. In a way, these will be like their gifts to Hannah...although they will actually be gifts to God. And how sweet is that?