And Life Goes On! (January 3rd)

My last day of work was the Wednesday before Christmas, perfect timing as the busy season was over for Wreaths Across America, and the busy season on the Michalski homesite was in full-swing, lol!

It was nice to be home full-time, and Thursday morning, we went straight to work gathering wood. Unfortunately, by Thursday afternoon, I was starting to feel a little under the weather…

I can only assume that it was something I had caught at work, where nearly everyone had an illness of one sort or another. It began with a little extra fatigue, a little congestion and tightness in the chest, and coughing and fever at bedtime. On Friday morning, it was a splitting headache and fever – I could barely open my eyes all day! I stayed snuggled up in bed as the day unfolded around me, and passed Friday night with a very uncomfortable fever. On Saturday morning, I began to feel better, well enough to get up and wrap some Christmas presents! Saturday night was full of coughing…

But Sunday morning, that wonderful, beautiful Christmas morning, on which we celebrate the miracle of our Savior’s birth, marking the miraculous occasion with gifts as the wise men did, was much-improved! 

Christmas was a simple affair, in which Googley-Eyed Santa made his annual appearance, along with a few Christmas lights…

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Googley-Eyed Santa has been part of my Christmases for as long as I can remember, and it’s amazing how one simple decoration can quite definitively make it Christmas in a home!

On Christmas morning, a lovely mountain of colorful presents were systematically unveiled, with much delight! There were stockings filled with candy (that were also actual stockings – new wool long winter socks, lol!), and there were new clothes, and warm slippers, and a Bible for Genevieve, and engraved pens for the boys, and snow boots!

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Delightfully, there were hand-made gifts from Asher and Spencer. While they had worked with Joe on various plumbing and wiring activities, they were inspired to create things out of the scraps. There were wire bracelets and rings and swords…And Asher created this small playset for Genevieve, where the washers traveled along the wires, and made a ringing sound as they passed each other!

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Asher also surprised me with a copper-wire sculpture – the Tree of Life, complete with an aluminum-wire serpent and red wire-snip fruit!

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It reminded me that, next year, I hope and plan that all of our Christmas gifts will be hand-made from lovely things that we encounter and make throughout the year!

Here, the kids are unwrapping a present for all three of them – a set of Magna Tiles, a type of building toy that they have greatly-enjoyed at libraries and children’s museums over the years…

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The Magna Tiles were a great hit, and led to some of the most creative architecture!

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It was super-fun to see and hear all that their little brains imagined, as they described greenhouses and play rooms and rooms to watch the stars, and houses where each person had their own floor in the tower…

And now, with proper footwear, they were ready to stomp through snowy fields, and laugh in the face of frozen puddles that might crack and crumble underfoot!

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I never gave a thought to having a Christmas tree in the house this year, but one day Asher burst in the back door to let me know that he had made a Christmas tree for us! He had taken the top of a sapling that we had cut down during some of our clearing activities, and had then found a hollow section of log to hold it upright. He buried it in the ground, and there we had a very sturdy little Christmas tree outside the back window! 

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It was small and simple, but full of memories, as it was strung with a few lights, and decorated with a handful of ornaments, from our travels on the Blue Ridge Parkway…

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…or from our family collection that comes out year-after-year…

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…many of them passed down from my mother (and even some passed down from my grandmother!), like Asher’s favorite, “the Bethlehem Star”…

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Or Vivi’s favorite, the cupcake!

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It was a very special Christmas, a strange Christmas, a Christmas that wasn’t as settled-in as I had thought it might be, that was simple, that was quiet…I looked around at our snug home, at the smiling faces, at the calm and the peace, at the flushing toilet, and the unfinished walls, at the bottles of water for washing and drinking, and I realized why there are not many that might choose this life. I look at my life, and I am amazed and astounded by the comfort and ease that I feel. But I don’t think that this would look like, would feel like, comfort and ease to everyone. And so, as I feel the comfort and ease, and as I see the comfort and ease in my kids, I’m extra-grateful to be able to experience it!

It takes a long time for an illness to circumnavigate the Michalski family :), and after Christmas, my cold began to make it’s way rounds…we weren’t all well again until after the New Year! But, the colds were less severe, and the great thing was that we could just take our time! There were no outside demands on our days, so we could slow down, and take care of each other, and wait for it to pass. We could work when we felt like working and rest when we felt like resting and enjoy the outdoors when we felt like enjoying the outdoors!

A short walk from our house, along our property line to the ATV trail, was nothing short of a winter wonderland, and I look forward to all of the beauty that will continue to unfold in this little neck of the woods…

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Dappled sunlight…

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Snowy branches…

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Snowy pathways…

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Freezing puddles…

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Enormous lichens!

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And turkeys!

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And deer and coyotes and snowshoe hares and squirrels and meadow jumping mouses and grouse and partridge and porcupines…And maples and firs and hemlocks and cedars and spruces and pines and birches and larches…And who knows what else we’ve yet to discover?

What an abundant land! A new year, a new home, a new path…Thank you, Lord!

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