Olivia was given the Laura Ingalls Wilder collection last year from family to make sure she cultivates an appreciation of her humble American ancestry. I remember being slightly bored by the stories as a child, so tossed my yellowed childhood paperbacks when we moved to Europe before she could grow into them. But reading them now, just as she is growing in independence, she is connecting better with that pioneer family better than I ever did. She starts most of our weekend conversations in the kitchen with "Mother, guess what Laura had to live through this week!" And we gasp together.
Christmas looks more like their 1880 version for us this year: My lack of school involvement means Christmas programs, decorating the chateau and teacher banquets has ended. Our village mayor asked us to decorate our front windows each year, but our newly elected mayor seems to have dropped the initiative. Two Sozo weekends this month also put a damper on my time and energy for other activities. But the good news is that the problem neighbor backed down and okayed 6 glass blocks, so we cut back on gift-giving in order to get the job done before Christmas. Here’s how we are living out the Christmas chapter:
- "The days were short and cold, the wind whistled sharply, but there was no snow." Olivia is currently living this out, being on foot in Strasbourg this year. But the city holds the most popular Christmas market in Europe and and she is basking in the ambiance this month!
- "They pressed their noses against the squares of glass in the windows that Pa had made, and they were glad they could see out." The glass blocks and water heater replacement have resembled a giant DIY advent calendar this month, as every few days our handyman opens the door and makes a big mess while inching forward with the work a few hours at a time. A clean house for company, natural light and hot water will be our big gifts this year. (But you’ll have to wait till next month to see the finished result!)
- "They plunged their hands into the stockings again, pulling out 2 long sticks of peppermint candy, striped red and white." Noah is actually packing US candy canes for Olivia, as they only come in fruity flavors in our corner of the world.
- "And in the very toe of each stocking was a shining bright, new penny!" Olivia got news this week that her scholarship money had cleared the administrative hurdles and is finally on its way.
- "That was a happy Christmas." I’ve always been pretty disappointed in our church’s Christmas decor, thanks to the poverty spirit behind it. So I jumped at the chance when asked to do it this year. David had misgivings and didn’t want me to do it with my traveling, but with no Thanksgiving and unable to decorate the house properly during renovation, I needed at least one creative holiday project! So I used the tithe of my Sozo earnings to buy and light a 7 ft tree for the sanctuary to grace the youth group’s winter ball, the December tabernacle and the Christmas fete. Ahhhh… I got my fix and honored David by not overdoing it, spreading it out over 3 days.
Of course the greatest satisfaction came from bringing inner healing to 20 different people during this advent season. The Wonderful Counselor protected me and my amazing teammates well during our marathon weekends.
Christmas blessings from our Little House to yours, Angela