Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Festivities

At our house, the Christmas season is our favorite time of the year.  There are so many traditions and festivals surrounding this time of year and anyone who knows me knows I am all about the festivals!  My parents came to visit us last weekend and we decided to take advantage of some of the festivities in the area.   We did a little shopping at the San Marcos outlets (I think it is considered the largest outlet shopping center in the US) on Saturday, and then headed to nearby Gruene for their Christmas market days.  Gruene is a cute little German town with a lot of charm.  You may know Gruene from its famous, Gruene Hall, Texas's oldest continually running dance hall (built in 1878) and the birthplace to many great country songwiters and musicians (George Strait & Ace in the Hole, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, and many more).  We were blessed with rain this day though, so we didn't get to spend as much time shopping in the outdoor market days as we had hoped.   We did get to enjoy a great meal at the Gristmill though.  This old cotton gin converted into a restaurant serves some yummy food, including these huge onion rings that Luke decided he loved!

Also on Saturday, we headed to Georgetown, which is a cute nearby town to ours, to participate in their "Christmas Stroll".  It is a fun festival with delicious food vendors, fun entertainment, and even a Bethleham Village.  The Bethleham village allowed us to step back in time to experience the village as it was when Jesus was born.  They had many different "shops" that were interactive for the children.    There was a local toy shop, grain mill, bakery, perfumery, dye shop, coin shop and stable.  Luke ABSOLUTELY loved this as it made all of the stories about Jesus that we have been sharing with him this Christmas season so real.   A lady even made him a "baby Jesus" doll at the Bethleham toy shop that he just didn't want to put down.    At the back of the village there was a live nativity, with actors/singers who shared the Christmas story.   Luke wanted to stay the entire time to watch it.

Luke takes a break with Grandma and Grandpa at the Georgetown Christmas Stroll.
It has been SO MUCH fun this year, as Luke really begins to understand what Christmas is all about.  Children are flooded with all sorts of stories about Christmas, so we are really learning as parents how difficult it is to help the kids focus on the true meaning of Christmas.  We do not want Luke to think it is all about receiving material gifts, but rather that we have already received the most amazing gift possible--the Gift of Jesus and Salvation.  This gift is available to everyone who asks and does not require special Black Friday shopping in order to attain.  That said, Luke still also LOVES all of the "other celebrations" of the Christmas season; this includes the Christmas lights, Christmas trees, Santa and what Luke calls the "Ho Ho Ho Deer".   Although difficult, we just try to tie it all back to the gift of Jesus and God's love. 
A Family Picture in front of our tree.
This weekend, we participated in more Christmas festivities.  On Saturday morning, we celebrated with a Christmas brunch at our house with our Church Community Group.  We had so much fun with our annual "white elephant gift exchange" and eating some delicious food.  Also, the kids got to see Santa come by on the fire truck through our neighborhood.  Santa does this every year in our neighborhood, and the firemen assist him by throwing candy to all of the kids waiting along the streets.

Luke and his friends, Dylan, Ford and Krystal, waiting with excitement for the firetruck.

Luke is excited about the sucker that he will not get to eat.

Bye Bye firetruck and Santa!
We also saw the Biscuit Brothers perform on Saturday night at a local church's festival and tonight we plan on visiting the Zilker tree of lights/HEB Holiday festival.  We love Christmas and look for every possible opportunity to celebrate!

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