This year was our first Christmas living in Rome. Just a few days after Christmas we celebrated living here for a full year, which was really special. The past year has flown by in every way possible. If you pack a year full with moving to another country, learning a new language, learning a new culture, making new friends, and a million other adjustments and new experiences, it’s bound to feel that way! During the Christmas season, we were in between having family visit and we had some nice time to reflect and look back at God’s faithfulness over 2015. There is no way we could have survived all the changes and challenges without Him. He has been our constant sustainer keeping our family together. His lovingkindness never ceases to amaze us!
That lovingkindness is exactly why we celebrate the season. We wanted to be really intentional with the kids this year as they are old enough to understand more of why we have Christmas and what it’s all about. We started with sharing the story of Jesus with Oliver’s class at school. We wanted Oliver to share with his friends. So, he helped us put together gift bags for all the kids full of goodies like candy, toys, and the story of Jesus coming to earth as man (in Italian—good language practice) along with the rest of the story of His purpose of coming to earth—to die on the cross to pay the penalty of sin for all who will believe and confess Him as Lord. Oliver was so excited to pass the bags out to all of his little buddies in class. If only you could have seen his face light up. The kids loved it, too.
We were blessed in so many special ways this Christmas as well. We received a huge package from a preschool class back in Oklahoma and it was packed full of artwork, letters, and pictures for our boys. Oliver and Arthur felt so honored to have little kids on the other side of the world thinking of them. The class even sent the boys school t-shirts. We also received a similar package from some of the kids from our church in Oklahoma. Again, the boys felt so special. A pastor and friend of ours from another church in Oklahoma, along with his sweet family, also blessed our kids with a package full of treats, cards, and Mickey Mouse toys. By this time, our boys were on cloud-9! As parents, it blows you away to know that people don’t forget about your kids even though you are so far away and are taking the time out of their busy holiday season to make them feel special. Thank you sweet family and friends from Oklahoma!
Our new friends here in Rome also showered our kids with gifts and love. We are super blessed to have so many great friendships with such amazing people. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to two of our favorite girls (who are more like family than friends), because they moved back to America. We are so thankful to have had them in our lives and know that they will continue to be a part of our lives even with an ocean between us.
We hosted a Christmas party with some of our Italian friends and they had their first roasted turkey…ever! We ate great food, played Christmas bingo, and had great conversation. So fun.
We celebrated Christmas Eve as a family and kept up with our tradition of eating some “Christmas fettuccine.” Christmas morning, we ate our traditional cinnamon rolls, opened gifts, and played with toys. That afternoon, we watched The Polar Express and ate popcorn. We stayed in our pjs all day long—it was wonderful! Something else that we did with the kids this year was throw a birthday party for Jesus the night of Christmas. We had a birthday cake, candles, and party horns. It was so much fun celebrating the greatest gift this world has ever known. That’s worth celebrating every day!