As a young child, our family celebrated advent in various ways. The tradition that stuck out to me the most, however, was the years we had a felt advent tree. Every day we would read a scripture and put an ornament on the tree that served as a symbol of Christ's coming. Since having children I have been anticipating being able to celebrate advent with them, and this was the first year that Eliana was at an age to really begin to understand the meaning behind the Christmas season. After doing some research I found a blog that had written out some advent reflections for young children (http://partofthemain.wordpress.com/advent-readings-2011/) which we used as a guide. It was such a fun experience! Eliana would ask all day long when she could open up the next piece of her nativity. She eagerly waited for baby Jesus, knowing that he would be coming. She also would ask us to tell her the Christmas story each day (multiple times a day) and eventually she got to the point where she told the story to her brother! You can check out her version of the story on Leah's Facebook page. Her version has some interesting twists.
In Mexico Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Eve. Families get together for a dinner together around 10 pm, and then open gifts at midnight. Here is a picture of us on Christmas Eve:
Owen didn't quite make it for the celebration, he fell asleep around 8:30 pm and slept soundly the whole time! Here is a picture from earlier in the evening:
We finally went to bed around 2 am. Our hopes were high that Eliana would sleep in, but she was up at seven! Kevin made a special breakfast and Eliana opened presents then we prepared to head to the airport to fly to the States. Our plan had been to stay in Mexico over the holidays, but because Kevin was needed to represent LAM at the Urbana Missions Conference, Leah and the kids headed to California to be with her family. We flew all together to Phoenix and from there parted ways, Kevin to St. Louis and Leah, Eliana and Owen to California. Leah's family waited to celebrate Christmas until the morning of the 26th. All of her sisters were able to come home to be together on the 26th. Here is a picture of Christmas breakfast:
We took advantage of the opportunity to get a picture with all the siblings!
It was sad to be apart during this time, but Kevin had a great time connecting with students at Urbana and also spending more time with the members of the recruiting team from LAM's Miami office.
By January 3rd we were all back together in Mexico. All in all it was a really special season as we were reminded again through the eyes of a child the anticipation of waiting for our Savior, and the blessing it is to be with family and friends.