Sunday, January 2, 2011

My First Christmas as a Phillips

I'll be the first to admit, I was a bit homesick while in Utah for Christmas this year. It was my first ever Christmas as Andy's wife as a Phillips, and though I was excited to be with his family (now MY family too!), I was shocked when I felt a longing for my Chou family one night. To my disappointment, when I called my parents and brother to wish them a Merry Christmas, I found out my brother's Christmas dinner was provided by Jack in the Box and my parents were spending the night dancing with friends (they got into ballroom dancing after my stint in college). I knew of my parents' plans but I didn't expect my brother to eat dinner alone. I know that didn't bother him as a few years back, the two of us spent Christmas in the Cheesecake Factory, but still it bothered me now.

As I sat and pondered, unable to reconcile the wonderful Christmas I was having with Andy's family in Utah and my brother's fast food Christmas in California, I started thinking back to when we had our last family Christmas celebration. The recent years were a blur but the memories that stuck out most of Christmas time with the family dated back to years of my youth. When we were all kids, Christmas was more special and family oriented but as we grew older, it seemed to lose meaning. No longer did we have Christmas lights, wrapped presents under a decorated Christmas tree or even the fire roasting chestnuts in the background... and gone was the magic of Christmas that came with our own family traditions.

This year, as I became more aware of a Christ centered Christmas and what it really means to celebrate the birth of our Savior, I also realized that for my Chou family, the only time we seemed to truly celebrate as a family was when we were younger. The intermission through adult life leaves a gap that I am excited to try to help fill when Christmas will be spent with my family and the first grandchild or wai-sun once Baby Phillips is born. I can only hope that our example will bring the Spirit to my family and help build a foundation of faith, patience and diligence as we will need all of the aforementioned to persevere when the family only expects to eat together and then go off on their separate ways.

This year, I contrasted more the differences between a family raised in the Gospel and a family not. We read the Christmas stories from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, opened gifts, had a feast of food, and played games. Unlike memories from family gatherings before in which adults rarely played with us (except for the one year we got Uncle Andy and Aunt Jessica who was still the new girl he just met to play three games of Monopoly with us), the whole family gathered together. If anything, the teens were the ones hesitantly refusing to partake but begrudgingly participating.... while the adults, myself included, reveled with joy and laughter.

A common thanks we often give is for the gospel in our lives. My first Christmas as a Phillips helped me grow in my love for that gift as it will now be a part of my life as we raise our child and formulate our own family traditions. How grateful I am for that and how drastic of a difference I already am able to witness of life with and without the gospel. How did I get so lucky? How was I in the right place at the right time, with all the balls falling into place when I decided to investigate the Church and check out I'm not quite sure, but I'm thankful for it and humbled by the experience and the gift of truth that I will now be able to pass on to my posterity and share with my family.

BYU shirt for our son!

My first stocking... I am 28 and this is my first stocking... EVER!

My cute nieces!  

I hope my kids are as cute and sweet!

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