Two Christmas’

Two Christmas’.
I’m not sure how long Greg and I will be able to do two Christmas’,
but so far we’ve enjoyed this little newfound Christmas of ours.
You see for the past 5 years of Christmas’ together, we’ve done:
Christmas Eve Candlelight service at the church I grew up in,
followed by ” traditional” Christmas Eve dinner at my mães house,
(I say “traditional” because tradition is relative.
Bacalhau, Paella, Frango Galinhada, e o óbvio Arroz.)
followed by singing happy birthday to Jesus,
followed by a birthday cake + champagne toast to the King,
followed by a countdown to midnight tearing all the previously gorgeous time consuming gift wrapping to pieces,
followed by a coconut flan,
followed by a 1am departure to PA in order to Christmas morning at Greg’s parents,
pit stopping at Dunkin Donuts for some cafezinho get us to PA.
Christmas Day we’d wake up around what we night owls  would usually deem atrociously early,
but not on Christmas morning.
Even we night owls wake up  as giddy as kids on Christmas morning,
because of two words: CHRISTMAS morning.
The good in that first word far outweighs the bad in the second.
Then we would consume all the fresh out of the oven monkey bread,
hear Greg’s dad read the Christmas story – the Jesus one not to be confused with the santa one I thought he was gonna read- after breakfast..
Then, slowly but lovingly, opening  gifts from one another.
It was such a contrast to the fast paced  high-energy gift opening from the night before,
but it was such a sweet balance.
Later that day we would have Christmas dinner at Grandma’s & Grandpa’s, where I laughed more than I ate , which if you know me is saying a lot.
THIS YEAR, we switched things up a tad by spending the night at Glenia’s,
then making an 8am Dunkin Donuts stop,
followed by Christmas brunch with Mom, Dad,Alexa,Josh, and Grandma,
exchanging gifts all the while missing Ashley + Grant,
& hitting the road to have a little Christmas at our house.
Our little 801.
Chinese Christmas Chicken for Dinner ( a new & DELICIOUS tradition).
Life changes.
The traditions change.
Insider tip for ya, it’s not the traditions that matter,
it’s the people you’re sharing them with.
These Christmas traditions are such a blast,
but it’s inevitable that with the help of
life happening
adapting + adjusting these traditions will become essential to preserve the only tradition that matters,
GATHERING with the ones we love.
Make the tradition of GATHERING with the ones you love you’re favorite Christmas tradition.
So that no matter what life throws our way,
no matter what inescapable life changes take place,
you could ground yourself in the truth that
The best tradition
The best gift
is to be with those we love.








































Christmas Eve

Do you remember your favorite Christmas?
Was there a year, or a gift that stood out among the rest?
I can’t say that I have one. 
I will say that every Christmas Eve, I remember what I feel.
I feel incomprehensible joy,
unparalleled peace,
and no matter what happened during the year, 
I feel wrapped in the gift of love.
My family has always done an impeccable job of driving me crazy,
but they did an even better job of assuring me I was loved.
Every Christmas season, when the time comes to celebrate the birth of Christ, 
I am thrilled to spend time with family.
Though there is pain there is joy.
Though we experience arguing we also experience peace.
Though we experience making mistakes we experience forgiveness.
Family is the first place where I learned about love.
Where I learned grace .
What it is to love no matter what.
Whether your brothers ruin your Barbie tapes
or whether you’re calling your brothers mean names
or whether you have to make amends with your mom for the hundredth time
 because your attitude is out of control.
And to always be met with love
To always be held.
Amidst the noise and chaos in this world,
where darkness, despair, and hopeless come ruthlessly after you
there is a place,
there is a people
where we are first introduced to being wanted
where we are first afforded the luxury to be ambassadors of
peace, strength,love, hope, unity, and joy.
Each year when Christmas rolls around I think about family
My utterly flawed & utterly fabulous family.
How the hardships and miracles refined us, and brought us together.
I think about His family.
How God used the utterly flawed and utterly fabulous,
in the very lineage of Christ.
I wonder how baby Jesus felt that night so many years ago,
 that first night in that cave in Bethlehem, 
Incomprehensible joy? Unparalleled peace?
Mary was most definitely in pain,
and I can only imagine Joseph was stressing out!
But oh the love
to be wrapped in love.
Once the chaos stilled, and the Savior was born, and they all took a deep breath,
and they cried tears of joy,
the Savior was born!
As they wrapped themselves in each-others arms
and held the Savior
who holds us 
and stills us
and laughs with us
and wraps us in His loving arms,
they became family.
Cheers to the gift of Jesus & the brilliant gift of family.
Go do yourself and wrap a family member in your arms today and say
” I know I probably drive you crazy, 
but more than anything 
I hope you remember this embrace
on the suckiest and best of days
rest assured I LOVE YOU. “


Christmas Card 2016 : JOY

Every year growing up, immediately following the Thanksgiving church service, my family would take our Christmas picture for our annual Da Silva Christmas Card.
I’m an Irving now so you best believe I carried the Christmas Card tradition over to Greg and I.
Only difference being instead of using a picture taken on Thanksgiving,
Greg and I decided to use our favorite picture from that year.
In 2014 our Christmas card was a picture of us on our wedding day, that said Married & Bright.
In 2015 our Christmas card was our first family photo;Greg, Me, & our pup Lady. Happy Pawlidays.
In 2016 our Christmas card features a photo of Greg & I sans pup and sans pun, but full of JOY.
Yes, primarily because we were in a beautiful secluded island in the Bahamas called Bimini.
But also because that picture depicts pure JOY.
Shouldn’t our JOY on Christmas, and every day 
look a little more like Greg and I in that Christmas card ?
May God’s Greatest Gift be our greatest JOY.
No pun. Just truth. Pure Joy.

 Jesus is our JOY.
In the words of Ann Voskamp,
 ” We are most prepared for Christmas when we revel in His presence as our greatest gift”
Revel in His presence dearest reader.
He is our greatest gift.
HE is our greatest JOY.

                                                             “You’re the JOY

The song in my heart

The hope of my soul
In the shadows
In the sorrows
In the desert
When the pain hits
You are constant
You’re the song of my heart


You’re the joy joy joy lighting my soul
The joy joy joy making me whole
Though I’m broken, I am running
Into Your arms of love
Into Your arms”

~801 Christmas Ready~

‘Twas three nights before Christmas and my house was a HOT MESS.
Not a thing was in place,but there was no need to stress.

We cleaned and we swept and we mopped, washed, and dried.
Until the condition of our house would leave Adrian Monk satisfied.
.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

That’s as far as I’ll go in my rendition of  Clement Clarke Moore’s ‘Twas the Night before Christmas.
It’s honestly such a blast to team up with Greg and clean our home.
Where I lack -dish washing and vacuuming – he shows up, and throws down.
And vice versa.

If you’re ever looking for a great team building activity, two words, CLEAN. TOGETHER.

There’s always something so refreshing about teaming up to clean up.
Not to mention the instant gratification of everything being as clean as it looks and smells.
Oh how I love the way the natural fragrance of  lemon and lavender infuse the air.

    Tangent Time: As you may or may not know we have the most simultaneously always turnt
                            up/cuddle-bug of a dog in the world, a high-maintenance kitten , a one and only
                            Greg with allergy induced asthma, and a very little pro-keeping my animals,my  
                            husband, and myself  away from exposure to harmful chemicals me!
                           Which is why, if you’re ever looking for chemical free + go green cleaning products
                            that smell heavenly and get the job done, method is the way to go ! )

Not to mention a clean house leaves room for focusing on other things going on in the house,such as:

  • Ornaments on the tree.
    •  Greg has ornaments  from when was a baby, me not so much. The year we got married we decided to get an ornament together every year, and this year – in addition to our yearly golden Lancaster City Collectible – we got each other Darth Vader & Wonder Woman ornaments.
  • Lady lounging on my gift from Greg.
    • Self control my friends, that’s what it takes to have your gift glaring at you all month under the tree, and slowly wait till December 25th rolls around to open it.
  • Little touches of Christmas flare here and there.
    • I married a history major, and lucky for him I love history. I love the stories behind both people and things . Take our M&M dispenser for example, it was handcrafted years ago by Greg’s Pap-Pap. Our Christmas stockings were knit with love by his grandma Mary Lou, and his great aunt DeeDee. Our fridge full of Christmas cards of people in our lives whom we love dearly and whom we are so thankful to be able to do life with them. Our Liz Hess – a local artist in Lancaster City – giclee painting of Water Street Mission will tell the story to future guests of our home of the years we spent living in Lancaster serving Jesus by serving others through our work at Water Street Mission.

Enjoy a few snapshots of our first house as homeowners, our beloved 801.
Clean as can be.
Decked out for the holidays.
But most of all, completely ready to be filled with the ones we love.