One of our gifts this Christmas was the new Mac OS X leopard family pack. We are all enjoying the new features which this new kitty brings to our computers. I especially enjoy 'stacks' - a cool way to keep your desktop clean, yet files and recent downloads a click away. Another feature that I have already used a lot is the new interface between mail and iCal/Address Book. Calvin likes the 'cover flow' feature. We will be discovering new features as time goes on. Mac users, if you haven't upgraded yet, do it. PC users, just hope that someday Microsoft will steal some of these features in a future OS.
We took advantage of a somewhat quiet Christmas Day to help serve a dinner at the Benedict House in Bremerton. Our church, along with many others in the county, take turns providing meals for homeless men who are temporarily housed at the Benedict House. Esther and a couple of others spent the afternoon cooking up a prime rib roast, potatoes and veggies. The boys and I joined in serving and eating the meal. The men were appreciative and friendly. It was an added treat to drive through snow on Christmas Day.
On Sunday evening, the Bulthuis family got together at Aaron and Jen's house. This was after a candlelight service at Bethel Church. It was great to see Karen who came from New York, and Rebekah who came from Michigan. We presented Mom with a digital photo display loaded with family pictures from us all. We hope that the continual visual exposure to her children, grandchildren and great-grand children will keep her memory of us sharper. We will spend a somewhat quiet Christmas Eve. with just the four of us.
It is rare for me to hit the slopes before Christmas, but with all the snow piling up and a prodding son, I began my snowboard season today. We were able to take advantage of some two-for-one ticket coupons that Markus snagged. Oh, it does a dutchman good to see his son pinching pennies! Calvin's friend, Josh deLacy joined us for the Crystal Mountain adventure, albeit on skiis:( It turned out to be a great day. Probably the only non-stormy day of a two-week stretch, with lots of powder and no crowds. Yesterday was a bulthuis-shop-till-you-drop day (downtown Seattle, Universtiy Village, Southcenter, Ikea and the Supermall) Today was a nice contrast to traffic and shopping malls.
The last few days before Christmas break, we allow the students to bring things from home to decorate their table. They like to make it a competition. The winners were obvious this year, with hanging Santas, lights, and pine streamers. The decorations added to the atmosphere of our December party. Today is the beginning of a two week break. It will be a pleasant change of routine for both the students and their teachers!
Every year our church sponsors an Angel Tree Dinner. Children of incarcerated parents are invited to a dinner where gifts are given to the children on behalf of their parent. The incarcerated parent makes the request for their child to take part; and sends a note to be given with the gifts. The church buys the presents and puts on the dinner and then presents the gifts This year Esther and I had the opportunity to host a table. Guests are not assigned to tables but hosts greet families as they enter and then invite them to sit at their table. As families entered, I recognized one of my students in a large group of guests and knew it was my clue! As it turned out, not only my student but one of his cousins who was a former student, sat at our table. I was not aware that either of them had incarcerated parents. It was a special moment when the children opened up the notes from their parents before opening the gift. The church also helps pay for the children to go to summer camp. The custodial parent can sign them up. It looks like both of my students will be able to go this summer. It is humbling to be a small part of something that God is so obviously orchestrating.
At the risk of appearing selfish, I have posted a Christmas wishlist for the use of my loved ones who can't think of what to get me. (See the link in the left column.) I often have ambivalent feelings about the Christmas gift exchange routine. On the one hand, it feels like a burdensome cultural obligation to spend excessive amounts of time in crowded malls, frantically searching for the right gift/s. On the other hand, it feels like a small gesture of kindness in expressing appropriate affections to our well-deserving loved ones. I often wonder if Christ is pleased with all the activity surrounding the celebration of his advent to earth. It does heighten the celebratory nature of the season, and encourages generosity and kindness, reflecting the great generosity and sacrifice of God at Christmas. I guess I'll stick with the program.
A year and a half after installing the window, I finally have the inside trimmed out in sheet rock, plastered, textured and painted. We added it to let more light in the north side of the house. The fact that the rough-in didn't look that bad without trim, and that it was way up high, made it easy to let it go for such a long time. I picked at it this week in the evenings and finished it last night. In addition to my home improvement project, I also hung the exterior christmas lights and we procured a tree from Stocks Tree Farm. It feels like a weekend's worth of work done in one day. Esther has also been busy adorning the interior of the house with seasonal beauty. Markus came home last night as his quarter is over. He will head off to Whistler for a couple of days this week.