I love Christmas. So much in fact that I've already started decorating. The garland, the nativity, and the cute "wise-men" tile my mom gave me are already up in the living room. Little by little this place will be a winter wonderland. Dave thinks I'm being ridiculous. He kept reminding me it was November, while I was struggling to get the box out from under the stairs, then unpacking the carefully boxed decorations. I just can't help it. I'm never sure when it will bite, but when it does- the Christmas bug gets me and puts me into delightful Christmas Delirium until January.
Last year my family started what we hoped would become a yearly tradition. We call it (drumroll please...)
the 12 Weeks of Christmas.
It entails a challenge, extended from one of the sub-families, within our extended family, starting with the youngest (that would be me), and working it's way up through the family, week by week.
Dave & Ali --> Jon & Lauren -->Amie & Fraser--> Joel & Laura--> Hugh & Janet--> Repeat!
The challenges are extended in hopes of drawing closer to Christ as families and individuals. They are generally challenges involving Christ-like acts of service to other people, as well as doing things or making changes that will make us better people, more worthy of the spirit, and more capable instruments in the hands of God.
Last year was amazing. It was a beautiful way to prepare for Christmas, and it was an unforgettable experience. I think we felt closer as a family than we've ever felt before, and closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. It was my favorite Christmas of all time. I loved it. Not only did I feel connected to my family, and Savior, but lasting friendships were forged through acts of service- friendships that have ultimately become very important to me personally over the last year.
That all being said - we've started again... well... sort of. I think we are on to week 4, and still working on week 2's challenge... but the Harding family's ability to procrastinate is completely beside the point! The point is we have been extended a challenge, by my dear brother, Jon Ross & his lovely wife, Lauren. And we, as a family, all over this country of ours, are working on it. That's the beauty of it. And eventually we will update each other on how things went - our struggles, our success, our faith, our trials. It's a lovely thing, and I am once again looking forward to Christmas!
You can stop reading here if you'd like. But I suppose you can stop reading ANYWHERE if you'd like. This year the Hardings got together for Thanksgiving, and we started the first of the 12 weeks of Christmas challenges. The Wights extended the challenge to write a letter to Mom. For Christmas all she really wants is a letter summarizing our year. Last year none of us. Not one. Gave her what she asked for. (What an ungrateful group of no-good-hooligan-children she has). So the first challenge, on Thanksgiving Day, was to write mom a letter, outlining what we were grateful for over the past year. Here was ours:
For dear Nana, from the Wight family. Our year: 2011
A letter of Gratitude.
A letter of Gratitude.
We’ve been so blessed this year. We’ve had a challenge or two along the way, but overall it’s been a year of learning lots, growing together, and working hard.
The year started off with Dave’s birthday on January 4th. I made Dave a turkey dinner at his request. It was my first (and possibly last???) turkey. I was grateful for the experience, and Dave- for the turkey. I also made a Nacho Libre cake to celebrate with friends. What better way to honour a man with courage, strength, flexibility & stretchy pants (Dave, that is), than to eat Nachos, watch Nacho Libre & eat a cake that looks like Nacho Libre’s face?
Possibly the turkey experience, and maybe the encouragement from Jon to read the China Study, but somehow along the way we decided to try an animal protein free (ie: Vegan) diet for a month. We chose the month of April, which included Esther’s Birthday dinner of dry ribs, as well as Easter Dinner. Dave exercised some amazing will power, considering he worked at a Mexican Pizzeria every day during that month, as well as went on a scout camp, and didn’t cheat! He lost 19 pounds that month! I cheated more often. I really like chocolate. I lost less weight, but felt great about the experience. We ended the month with gratitude for beans… and meat. Really though, it left us… me atleast… with gratitude for health, the knowledge that we have that helps us to become healthier versions of our selves, as well as the revelation that we can receive, when we seek out knowledge about what is right for us as individuals and families.
|Dave, Roly & some sicko with a stash at the park. This was the first week of April pre-weight loss)|
Near the beginning of the year we were called into Nursery. We both feel a great love for the sweet little souls in the class, and are grateful for the chance to serve there each Sunday. Dave has been in Scouts for a couple years, and he is kept busy throughout the week, and on several weekends with camps. I was called as Secretary in the Stake Young Womens in March, and was thrown into the thick of things with Youth Conference, a Youth production of the play “Esther”, and Young Women’s Camp, all within a few months of receiving the call. I have loved being a part of it all- being able to serve the youth, and get to know the amazing women in our stake. We remain in nursery. They’ve been promising to release us since March. Although there are days where I roll my eyes and wonder why we are still there- we love it. One day as we walked out the door on our way to church Dave put on his shoes and said “I’m wearing moccasins, and I can, because I’m a nursery leader.” Dave has quite a faithful following of 2 year old boys. They think he’s hilarious, and just love him. Some of the kids, the girls especially, loved having Roly in there at first. They would pet him and love him. They were constantly shoving his soother in his mouth, like he needed it every minute of the day. Now that the soother is gone, he’s steady and tall enough to push, and his scream can be heard from a mile away they are less aggressive in their attempts to mother him. We are grateful for the opportunities that we have to serve, within the church. I think the only way we can learn to love people as Christ loves them is to serve them. Stake dances & singing time in Nursery have both taught me that I need to serve more.
This spring Roly & I enjoyed our quality time with you, Nana & Grandpa, going to Edmonton twice, and receiving a visit in Victoria once. We were so grateful for your help in planting the garden. The corn, tomatoes, beans, peas, zucchini & potatoes have brought us lots of nutrients and joy over the summer. It was so exciting to see it all grow. We were also blessed with a large apple & pear harvest. I experienced my first independent canning session, which went fairly well if I do say so myself. It was an amazing experience to be able to pick, process & share the fruit. Such a blessing to have it all at our finger tips.
Dave was busy throughout June & July with baseball. He kept Roly & I entertained on warm summer evenings… and left us home alone on rainy ones. He was happy to be a part of a team, and to be able to make friends and share his example. He’s also added a few more people to his “I know a guy” list.
Roland had his first birthday on August 4th, which we were thrilled to celebrate. We invited a bunch of people over, and had a big pool party and BBQ, with lots of young families from the ward. It was hilarious to watch Roly eat his cake with amazing concentration & determination. We are so grateful for this little boy. He is a light in our lives- so full of smiles and giggles. The dimples on his cheeks could crack the hardest of hearts. He started walking right around his birthday, and he’s been going in fast forward ever since. He’s a good communicator, and has started to say a few words now. He says things like “Mama, Dada, More & Ball.” He gives high fives and fists (he finally caught on to that one this morning), he blows kisses, and LOVES to wave. You’d think he was the queen the way he acts whenever we enter the bank, or a store. He looks people in the eye, and waves at them until they acknowledge him. It’s pretty cute.
Throughout this year we were taught lessons in paying our tithing. As we did it we were blessed. Opportunities for work presented themselves to Dave when we were feeling desperate and stretched passed capacity. The Lord is so willing to help us when we are obedient to his commandments. We’ve truly felt the Holy Ghost in this home, as we’ve dedicated more time to prayer and scripture study. We’ve been blessed with peace and joy as we’ve made effort to attend the temple.
I feel so much gratitude in my heart for the things which the Lord has blessed us with over the past year. I’ve seen his hand, and felt his love.
We love you Mom/Nana/Janet. We hope to see more of you next year.
Ali, Dave & Roly Wight.
Longest Post EVER? I think so. Enough is enough. Peace out.