{Photo 139/365}  I enjoyed an evening connecting with amazing friends.  He enjoyed playing with the other kids, but spent most of his time jumping, doing flips, and tricks.  LOVE nights like this. fun.

It isn't what you get, it is what you become.

This year I was able to attend my home church, Hosanna!, to celebrate Christmas Eve. For the first time ever, they had a live nativity scene. It was simply amazing. The front altar was covered with hay, and roaming about were 2 camels, a donkey, goat, lamb, calf and geese. Throughout the service, the lamb “baa’ed” and made his voice heard. The dust from the hay emcompassed the congregation, my daughter’s eyes began to water, and we both began to sneeze. The Christmas carols sounded sweet as I’ve ever heard, and a part of me felt like I was really there. It was one of those moments where I looked over at my husband and thought to myself, wow. We are so blessed. Sitting between us were our 2 beautiful children. We were among the animals celebrating Jesus’ birth.

Part of our pastor’s message was this. So much of Christmas has become “what did you get for Christmas?” He said something simple, but something that I’d like to remember. “It isn’t what you get, it is what you become.” I like that. A good overall life lesson. It isn’t what you have, what kind of car you drive, how many toys you own, or how nice your house is- in other words: what you get. It is who you are, and who you become. Approaching every new year, I try and take a good hard look at myself. Who would I like to become, and what am I going to do to get there?

I go back to the fruits of the spirit- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control. I can’t think of a better character checklist than that. Now, where do I begin?

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Do You Believe in Santa?

Monday night, my family set out to see Santa. I piled Owen and Gracie into our car, and met my husband at the local mall around 5 PM.

I should first tell you about the ride to the mall. My 6 year old, Owen, began to ask questions. “Is Santa real?” Apparently Anna, also a first grader, has told all her friends at school that Santa isn’t real. (Thanks Anna.) Owen then said: there is no such thing as reindeer that can fly, and how could there possibly be a santa at every mall? I could just see his little mind going. He then asked a very sweet question- “Do I have to believe in santa?” Not really knowing how to answer, I threw it back at him and said, “Why do you say that?” He answered, “I don’t want to hurt his feelings.” He then concluded all on his own, that the santa we were going to see was probably a santa helper who communicates back to the real santa everyone’s wish lists. Gracie just sat and listened to this conversation, not really phased by any of it.

When we got to the mall, much to our surprise, there was a very short line! We live in MN, so once inside, my kids threw off their coats and I found myself quickly holding 3 down coats, a purse and camera bag. A mom thing I guess- we can double as a coat tree. As we got closer, we noticed that Santa wasn’t perched in his chair… Yup. He was having dinner. “Be back at 6:00” sign sat on his chair, instead of his friendly face. Some quick decision making, and we decided to wait it out. The “Be back at 6:00” turned into “Be back at 6:20” – I guess he was having dessert. Doug met us in line, and helped out with the coats and helped keep an eye on the kids as they ran in circles.

About half way through the waiting, Gracie began to start whining. I can’t blame her, waiting in line for over an hour is a lot to expect of a 4 year old, even if it is to see Santa. She was begging me to hold her, and when she put her face next to mine, much to my surprise, her face was burning up. Another mom talent- knowing your child has a fever without the use of a thermometer. “My throat hurts, my tummy hurts, my head hurts…” Seriously? Just like that, she started to fade, and fade quickly. We couldn’t exactly leave at that point. Owen was waiting anxiously, and a bit more patiently than the rest of us. I think he wanted to answer some of his “Is Santa real?” questions. We also saw the long line that had formed behind us, and we suddenly felt a greater sense of urgency for Santa to down his dessert and get on with the show. We had visions of Gracie tossing her cookies all over Santa and the line of parents and children behind us raging at the mishap.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen. We made it through the remainder of our wait, and both Owen and Gracie were able to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas. We made sure Gracie didn’t get too close (she didn’t actually sit on his lap), and we paid our $17 for 2 hokey pictures to capture the moment. After all, it was the real Santa at the Burnsville mall on Monday night!

Yet another Mickschl memory. I sometimes wonder, does every family have these moments? I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Wishing you and yours a very fun, unexpected, joy-filled Christmas.

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Remembering Our Military Families

Just wanted to throw out there a reminder for everyone to remember military families who may be celebrating Christmas this year without a loved one. Whether it be to send a note, make a visit, or even say some prayers… take a minute to thank those who are sacrificing so much to ensure our freedom.

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