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A question we’ve fielded repeatedly this winter is if we’d be going home to Oregon for Christmas. We prayerfully determined that we would NOT travel for the holidays, nor for the first six months of having moved to our new home.

In addition to a thirst for a new adventure and a desire for a change of scenery, much of our reasoning for moving to Montana comes from the Bible. We are taking God’s command to His people from Genesis 2:24 literally, “A husband shall leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.”

I have always believed this to be sound advice, marking the new family unit as distinct and set apart- too bad it took us eleven years of marriage to put it into practice.

Growing up with divorced (and remarried) parents and a vast extended family within a 15 mile radius, my childhood and early adulthood holidays consisted largely of rushing from function to function for the entire month of December: Christmas with mom, Christmas with Dad, Christmas with Dad’s family, Christmas with Dad’s extended family, Christmas with Grandma (mom’s mom), Christmas with mom’s extended family, Christmas with step-families (some years), Christmas with my clients, Christmas with co-workers, Christmas with our church family, Christmas class parties, Christmas school programs… rinse and repeat- you get the picture. Compound that with marrying into another family (Christmas with the in-laws, Christmas with Husband’s colleagues) and it makes for a stressful, hectic holiday season that, in truth, has little to do with the birth of our Savior.

By definition, Holiday means “Holy Day”, and scholars agree the original Hebrew word for Holy in the Bible is better translated as “set apart”. Even after having our own children and determining to set apart the Christmas holiday as a holy time, we struggled to assert ourselves and our values against a demanding social calendar and competing obligations. Most years we missed Christmas Eve service at church, hurriedly opened our stockings and presents and snarfed down a quick slice of Jesus’ birthday cake before rushing out the door. WHERE did Jesus go?

We realize that family is a tremendous blessing, and we are thankful for an abundance of loved ones eager to spend time with us. Still, I can’t help reminding myself that I’m an adult now. A wife now. A mom now. My “family” consists of the persons God has chosen to place under my roof.

Husband and I are hoping to instill God’s values into the hearts of our children and establish our own traditions, making certain to set apart this season in particular: Making memories that will remind them of the faithfulness of a loving God who fulfilled His promise to provide us with a Savior from our inevitable self-destruction.

Anticipating the upcoming expansion of our family in the next year or so, we have taken a step back from many obligations, and moving out of our home-state has aided in this endeavor. Most professionals advocate for an extended period of “Cocooning” after bringing an adopted child into your home. Cocooning is a suggested period of 6 weeks to 3 months of acclimating your child to their new surroundings and fostering attachment with the family by limiting outside interaction/stimuli. Many adopted children come from tough circumstances and have suffered deep losses. Developing trust with new caregivers takes time and adoptive parents are encouraged to pull back from much of the outside world. It seems that God has already brought us to a season of cocooning, preparing us for the new addition to our family.

How was our Christmas this year? It was different. It was quiet, restful, and reflective. Our small family enjoyed each other’s company and made Jesus the focal point of our festivities. My prayer is that this would be the case each and every year we are blessed with these precious children under our roof.

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