Many family and friends read my blog so I thought I'd focus on a few Christmas moments. For those looking for content on U2 or missional theology, not much in this post, but if you want to know my family a bit better you're welcome to read on.
We try to get together with my parents on Christmas Eve. It seems we always gravitate to Mimi's Cafe for our Christmas Eve dinner. After dinner it's off to the church service at NFC then to my parents' house for presents. Click here for one of those classic "seven year old gets exactly what he wants from grandma and grandpa" moments. We missed my sister Linda and her family who only get to be with us once every second or third year. This Christmas they were all busy throwing up at John's parents' house in Michigan.
The Neufeld's at Mimi's (above)
Michael is seven years old and sang "Silent Night" at our Christmas Eve service at church. I asked him if he wanted to help me lead it the day before. He was adamant that he did not want to do this. I left to run some errands and when I came home there was a note on the door that read: Dear dad, now I want to sing with you. I knew if I backed off he'd probably decide to do it. He's his mother's son. So, as we lit about 250 candles, one-by-one from the Christ candle, Michael sang the first verse in near darkness and then sat down while Jamie and I continued on. Click here if you want to hear a one-minute clip (I'm playing guitar).
On Christmas morning Tracy, Michael, Daniel and I opened presents. Tracy and I counted our Hawaii trip to see U2 as our gift to each other, but it's really getting fun to watch the boys get so excited about even the smallest things. We're pretty simple in our giving but include some of the standard "boy" gifts: Bionicles, K'NEX, the Cars video (no, not the music group, the Pixar movie), art supplies, and bikes (well, Michael got a new bike; Daniel just got Michael's old bike with training wheels added - he was pretty thrilled). The best thing about the boys getting older is that I have fun with their toys too - lots of cool things to put together!
Daniel with his new "art box" (above)
Michael is proud as he can be after finishing his K'NEX roller coaster (above)
We spent Christmas afternoon at Tracy's folks. They live in the middle of a grape vineyard in the heart of central California. Every member of her extended family is a fruit farmer, so we get some of the best peaches, apricots, grapes, oranges, etc, in the world. It's peaceful driving down "grandma's bumpy road," walking along the canal bank, or watching stars at night. It's a simple place that really brings calm to my busy soul. Our Christmas morning tradition at the Brandt house: eating green crepes made by dad Brandt.
The Brandt family (above)
One final highlight. The day after Christmas I let Michael participate in a major rite-of-passage: his first viewing of Star Wars. He has some toys and knows bits and pieces of the story, but has never seen the whole movie. I've been waiting for the right time; this was it. He's a cuddler so we loaded the DVD, turned up the surround sound and crashed together on the couch. It actually took us two nights to watch it. He got completely lost in it. I think that's why I waited this long - I wanted him to experience the fantasy they way I did as a little boy. At one point he said that he could tell Darth Vader was a bad guy by the sound of his breathing/voice. Later he yelled out (I think it was as they were escaping in the Falcon from Tatooine), "Good always wins!" Maybe he can convince me that is really true.... Didn't we all believe that the first time we saw Star Wars?
Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.