Monday, December 29, 2008

Our Christmas in Jerusalem

We had a great Christmas this year. On Christmas Eve some friends (the Meyers) invited us over to have all the kids act out the nativity and have some classic holiday treats. They had some awesome Arab head coverings that we used for the shepherds. Joni was an angel and thought she was pretty hot stuff. We also read from the scriptures and sang Christmas carols.

Jackson sporting his shepherd's get-up.

My sweet little angel

We had a great time Christmas morning watching the kids open their presents. They each got three or four toys, which pretty much doubled their toy stash. They were stoked. Mom and dad were happy, too, that the kiddos would have more toys to keep them entertained.
Jackson with his own broom (he LOVES to "clean" with it) and his tractor.

Joni has desperately missed all her dress-up stuff. We only brought one dress-up outfit here and she got sick of it after about a month. So Tom and I searched high and low for some here, but to no avail. We finally decided it was a great chance to deter her from the Disney princess obsession, and we got her some genuine little girl pieces from the Old City. She has a little Muslim dress, along with a head scarf (which she prefers to wear on her neck at this point) and another scarf that's actually for belly dancers, but she doesn't have any clue. She just knows it's all pretty, and that it makes cool noises when she shakes her stuff...and trust me, she can shake it. She shook her tushy so much when she first put it all on, that she got a side-ache.

And I better show off my Christmas present from Tom and the kids. Tom did well. He got me a Bedouin ring I had been eyeing in the Old City. LOVE it.

Me and Jojo just before heading out to our branch Christmas party. Tom had a class in the middle of the day, but in the evening we all gathered at a member's house for more good food and carol singing. We got to eat all the ham we wanted (not always easy to come by here, for obvious reasons) and a bunch of other food we ordered from peoples' favorite restaurants.

This was during the party and I just had to capture it. The kids are playing with a BYU-J service couple, the Squires. Joni and Jackson have adopted a couple of the service couples as their own grandparents. My kids miss their grandparents at home, and the service couples miss their grandkids. Put them together, and everyone is happy.

All of us sitting around after dinner singing Christmas carols. A couple members in the branch have Jewish family members, who also came. I guess they were warned about the Christmas carols and the ham ahead of time, so it worked out okay :-)

After the Christmas carols, the Jewish girl who speaks no English sang an opera song in Italian, then a couple of the Spanish members sang a South American song in Spanish, followed by the Filipino members singing a carol in Tagalog. Doesn't get any better.

We originally wanted to go to Bethlehem for Christmas this year, but because of Tom's school we weren't able to do it. But Christmas was still very special for us. Missing out on all the Christmas hype back in the states was a breath of fresh air. I loved doing two small shopping trips and being done. I loved having simple decorations and being surrounded by other people who were also away from their extended families. It was easier than ever before to concentrate on all of our blessings, especially our sweet Savior, Jesus Christ. Without Him, we would be nothing. He is the source of our joy, this season and throughout the year. Living in the Holy Land has definitely helped turn our hearts towards Him, for more reasons than one. We love Him, and we hope He was proud of the way we celebrated his birth this year.


Jared and Tara said...

i just want to eat those kids up! it looks like you guys had a really nice Christmas. I'm so jealous of that ring!

Crookshanks said...

What a great posting about Christmas. I have been wondering for years how to bring more of the spirit of Christ into the I know....move to Israel! Seriously though, I was quite touched by the pictures and your thoughts and experience. And its interesting to note what our children are happy with (especially when they are young)when they aren't surrounded with the message of "buy, buy, buy" and "Gimme more". Come to think of it, I guess that could go for grownups too!


Megan said...

Speaking of gimme... gimme that ring, girl! Jk. But really, I love it. Tom done good. Dang Jackson is growing like a weed. He's like a toddler now.