I spent most of December reflecting on “What was I doing this day last year?” and thinking back on our trip to Ethiopia – meeting the kids at Hope for the Hopeless, falling in love with sweet Mary (whom we now sponsor), and bringing Wen & Beza home. In fact last Friday night I sat in the Denver airport and realized that the last time I was there I had two very tired and very overwhelmed children with me.
This year we had so much to be thankful for.
It was so wonderful to celebrate Christmas with the whole family together this year and have Beza and Wen experience all the Gumm family traditions – decorating the tree, making sugar cookies, opening gifts and eating Cornish pasties (they got a thumbs up from Beza, a so-so from Wen). We tried to spend some time in the weeks leading up to Christmas preparing them for what the day would be like – who would be there, what order we do stuff in etc. We also had to explain the whole concept of gift equality (one child might get one more expensive gift while others get 2 or 3 smaller gifts). I think it was really helpful and we survived the day without any major meltdowns.
I was especially thrilled to get to spend some time with our new niece Julia – brought home from China by my brother and his wife in October. It warmed my heart when I heard that precious little girl call my big brother “Papa”- something he has waited a long, long time to be. He and Trish are amazing parents and Julia, well, she is just a hoot and a half. She’s the most darling little thing – you could just eat her up. I had her calling me Auntie by the end of Christmas day and made sure to reinforce it the rest of the week. I’m sure she probably thought I was completely daft because I kept asking her “What’s my name?” a gazillion times. But hearing her say “Auntie” was just too irresistible.
My other brother Brad and his family were here too and stayed at our house for part of the trip. Grace is just 6 weeks younger than Natalie and they have a fantastic time together. We had one or two “third wheel” issues which is almost inevitable when you have an odd number of girls but in all they did great together.
I stopped to remember also that this time last year my mom was nearly bedridden with crippling back pain and muscle spasms and spent her Christmas in a care facility. She missed out on so many celebrations that year – Thanksgiving, Christmas, the kids homecoming, birthdays. We are so grateful to God that her surgery last May was successful and she has come so far in her recovery. She’s now walking without any assistance and was able to participate Noah and Natalie’s birthday this fall as well as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The day after Christmas we took advantage of the fact that all my siblings were here to get some family pictures done. I have to give props to Kim who came out the day after Christmas, 8 months pregnant, and got soaking wet in the fountain to get some great family shots of our crazy crowd of 14.