This weekend ignited the Tiede family for the Advent season. While we celebrated Christmas with my family over Thanksgiving, and the tree has officially been up for 2 weeks already (Yes, I know that’s crazy), this is the weekend that jump started our holiday spirits.

Friday night Mike and the kids went to Rosemount for Kadi’s basketball game. Mike took half the day off to be the parent on duty this time. The Defenders won and everyone had a great time. Mom and I had the privilege of speaking for our local Down Syndrome Parent Support Group. Mom spoke as a parent with 43 years parenting experience with a Down Syndrome son and I spoke as the sibling. it was such a precious time.

Saturday morning I was up at 5, on the road by 6, and in Prior Lake, MN by 8 to speak for a fantastic group of women. What a great time we had celebrating the “star” of the season … Jesus. I came home fully charged, which was lucky for me given the plans for the rest of the day!

I didn’t even pull in the garage when I got home, just picked up Mom and Kadi to run to the shoe store. This daughter of mine is now my height and with that proud achievement on her part, comes the expense of frequently replacing clothes and shoes!! We found some darling flats for her (I’m switching to heals in order to stay a bit taller) and rushed home. At four o’clock, all three kids had their piano recital. This was Caleb’s (6) first recital. All three kids did a tremendous job! Caleb was a bit confused when someone took the stage before him, who hadn’t been on the schedule. He fougth back tears, but when it was his turn, he took the stage like a pro and did a great job! Kadi was magnificent. She played two numbers flawlessly from memory. We were very proud of her and she was pleased as well. Ben was the very last pianist, which is nerve wracking, but he did great! For the grand finale he played a duet of “Silent Night” with Mrs. Driscoll. During the song, the sheet music feel twice. Mrs. D. would retrieve it, and Ben never missed a beat! Another proud moment!

The kids took their bows and we fairly flew home to eat chili that I’d left in the oven at home. Then we opened our traditional gifts that we always open on this weekend … new Christmas jammies. We laid them out on our bed, popped 4 bags of popcorn, filled travel mugs with hot cocoa mix, and put water in the oven. Then we went to church for the weekend service. Typically we don’t have a Saturday night service, but our worship team/ choir/orchestra/etc. were putting on their huge Christmas program. It was extraordinary! As the congregation began singing their final song at 8:15, we slipped out the bag and literally RAN down the hall and out the door to the van. You see, last night was our BIG annual tradition!

Once a year Crossroad Bible College hosts an outdoor, live drive-thru nativity. We’ve gone for years and years. Kadi and I started going before we even met Mike. Do the math! Last night we hurried home, everyone threw off their church clothes, and changed into our new pajamas. We added the hot water to our cocoa, and loaded the van with kids, the dog, lap blankets, huge bowls of popcorn, travel mugs, and “The Ultimate Christmas Music” CD set. We drove 10 minutes to the nativity, singing old favorited in our jammies and robes at the top of our lungs. As we pulled into the college, we turned off the tunes and rolled down the windows to better appriciate the sacrifice the actors and actresses were making, standing in the frigid temps for us! It was wonderful, as always.

At the insistence of the kids, we drove around and looked at lights … singing all the while. I think it was a successful ploy to delay bedtime. Whatever works! Caleb begged to hear the original version of “Santa Baby.”  We weren’t sure why. Just before we were headed home, Mike found it on a CD and we listened to it, however the words are pretty suggestive and I couldn’t imagine why Caleb would even remember, let alone like such a song. When we got home, he sang it for the family … “Santa Baby, slip a stable under the tree … for me!” (If you are familiar with this oldy, it’s “Slip a sable under the tree… for me.) Then Caleb looked at Grandma and Daddy and said, “It’s a Jesus song.” Mom and Mike nearly choked!

This year I encourage all of you to look for Jesus ~ even in unusual and unexpected places. Don’t get caught up in the insanity of the season, but take the time to find joy in the journey. Happy Advent!