The First Christmas Night

Disclosure: I received a copy of The First Christmas Night in exchange for an honest review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

You’re all probably very familiar with the rhyme “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, but have you ever heard a version about the night before the real, first Christmas?

The First Christmas Night
Source: Ideals Children’s Books


Keith Christopher, author of “The First Christmas Night”, has brought us a beautiful poem in the style of this familiar rhyme. A beautiful telling of THE Christmas story (accompanied by illustrations in oil paintings by Christine Kornacki) brought me to tears. I haven’t read this to the kids yet (saving it for Christmas Eve around the tree), but I am sure they are going to love it just as much as I did. Even though we know the conclusion of the story, it’s still a magical, beautiful moment, making me fall deeper in love with all.the.things.

And now, we that know can say with delight, Jesus was born on the first Christmas night!

Suggestions for using this hardback book:

  • Family story time during the holidays
  • Children’s ministers and Sunday school teachers
  • Chirstmas carolers
  • Literacy skills in kids ages 4-8 (rhyming, verbal language, early reading skills)

From the journey through Bethlehem to the visit from the Wise Men, this story is a gorgeous way to celebrate the season. You can get your own copy through Ideals Children’s Books for $16.99.

Mysterious Ways

My parents always reminded me that God works in mysterious ways. They sure were right.

When we took toys to Stuff a Bus in November, we stopped at the Steelers Store first. I found a cute plastic dinosaur that I just knew was going to make some ‘lil kids’ Christmas. See it down there in the bottom left?

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Well, my parents picked one up for ‘lil Man and give it to him with his “McStuffins” costume. By far, it was his favorite toy (especially compared to the lantern, no hard feelings, huh?). It seriously made his Christmas.

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By the way, if anyone knows the lyrics to the never ending song this thing plays, send them my way. We can’t get the tune out of our heads, but it sure is catchy.

How Santa Lost (Sort Of)

If you follow along over on my personal Twitter, you’d know that I was just a little bit beyond irritated last Wednesday evening. The time was set for me to have some ME TIME. I decided that returning one non-working toy would be a simple fix, so I headed to Monroeville to exchange a toy bought on line.

After waiting about 20 minutes in the customer service line, I find out they don’t have the like item in stock (although it said they did online before I left). They decided to put in a call to the Ross Park store and see if they had one in stock (since the computer said yes). The super kind lady behind the counter waited on three other customers while waiting for someone to answer. No one did, so I decided to get my butt in the car and cruise across town and give it a try.

Thirty minutes later, I found the identical toy on the shelf and was upset to find out that the lantern was also broken in that one. Taking both to the (empty!) customer service desk, I tried to work out an alternative with the employee. There may have been another lantern (without the extra items) somewhere in the store. Sadly, it didn’t turn up. I asked if we could test and exchange the batteries. They didn’t have the right screw driver and said I could try to use a smaller one, but if I broke either toy I’d be responsible for damages. I gave it a shot, then they didn’t have batteries to test OR buy. Ticked, I just stood at the counter as the line grew five people deep. I stared, silently. Finally, after about three minutes, I asked, “Do you think it’s an issue that your store sells broken products and doesn’t sell batteries for the toys they sell?”. The response was, “No, a working toy is your responsibility. You shouldnt’ve bought it broken”.

The problem?!?!? I DIDN’T BUY IT BROKEN. It was shipped to me broken. NOT MY CHOICE.

Pushing tears back, out the door I went and dialed customer service. I waited 16 minutes before anyone answered. When they did, I got the same story PLUS a “if you want to return the toy to our distribution center, you can, BUT you are responsible for shipping and this toy isn’t in stock so you’d only get it back IF ANY EVER COME BACK IN”. Really? Yes. You really expect me to cause my two year old to cry? Well then. I asked if they could send me batteries. No go, they don’t sell them. Seriously?!?! I asked, “Do you care that you just lost a loyal customer over a $12 toy and 3 batteries?”. They answered, “No, have a good night”, and the call was done.

Okay, I went crazy mama for sure. But, the toy only was defective because the batteries didn’t work. Greg found some for $12 (the cost of the TOY!) but I was able to score a 10-pack for $6 on Amazon. Guess what? They arrived on Friday and worked. The toy was fixed.

So, you’d think Santa won again, right? I mean, the boy wanted the following…


Okay, so the lantern wasn’t on the list, but he did verbally say he wanted one, like his Pop Pop had. And, he got every thing on that list except for the parrot (another battery fail at a small mall toy store, don’t get me going). Instead, he got this sweet rabbit that does the same thing.

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And you want me to get back to how Santa lost? Alright, alright. (Sorry, this turned into a “Greg Story”–oh, you don’t know what that is? Let me tell you about the time I sat on the dock and listened to him tell the story of the ants sometime.)

Here’s how Santa lost. Go ahead, laugh. He could care less about the damn lantern, thanks to having a multi-tool like Unca’s. Rawr.

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Christmas Spirit

As we fast approach the night of ‘lil sleep (please tell me where the “long winters nap” people are, cause they aren’t here), are you ready? Are you in the Christmas Spirit?

For me, I think it’s going to take a good round of “Silent Night” with faces lit by candles. It gets me every time. Truth be told, this is the first year in a long time (and definitely the first since being a mom) that it’s just been hard for me to get into the spirit. With no idea why, I look forward to church tonight and presents opening tomorrow, both of which should put me right back in the mood.

On Saturday, Greg and I went on a date after I made cookies (two kinds, that’s it, and they included a “these would not make the Christmas Cookie List” cookie, Chocolate Bacon). Those things helped. Having an elf help with wrapping helped a lot, too. (I really cannot wrap gifts—I wrapped one last night and cried the whole time because I am so bad at it.) The magic is definitely fast approaching, but I am just not quite there…yet.

Perhaps it is that traditions are changing. Many people (myself included) have gifts under the tree already…and some have even begun to open! Perhaps it is that I live in a world of get what I want when I want it and then there is “nothing to look forward to”. Perhaps it is that I know there are lots of kids and families out there who won’t have a beautiful Christmas.

Whatever it is, today is the day to get it together, to enjoy the moments before me and begin to enjoy the wonder of this coming day. I must remember the reason we celebrate. It’s not the gifts, the food, the songs. It’s the people brought together by a loving God to celebrate a miraculous birth. For those things, I give thanks and am ready to celebrate.


‘lil Man at Candlelight service and his 2 year Baptism anniversary

We All Have Our Crazy

We all have some version of crazy in us, trust me.

My crazy is my loyalty. I will be loyal to the end, no matter how evil people can be to me. Case in point, my life in 2006-2008. I moved to South Carolina with my then boyfriend and I thought things would be peachy for the rest of my life.

I was wrong.

Six months later, I had an engagement ring on my ring finger…right beside a broken pinky due to the fact I didn’t iron a polo shirt collar. I continued to live a life of lies, hiding bruises under long sleeve shirts in summer weather and standing up for the person who took me down so far.

It was easy to hide, and hide I did. I was hours away from family and surrounded by people who only knew what little I shared. I was not myself, the strong World Ready Woman produced at Chatham.

Finally it went far enough that I called the police, but the only thing that came of that was a long overdue breakup followed by months of repeat offenses until I finally cut the ties for good.

You are probably wondering why I am sharing this, and why tonight in this time of holiday cheer. It is because we all have our crazy.

You see, I was in tears an hour ago…

I was chilling after a busy day and decided it was time to buy some toys to go toward Michelle’s Christmas Crazy efforts. She buys toys each year to go to people in need…specifically women and children in domestic violence shelters. Women who are in (probably worse) situations than I was in.

The tie for me is helping to provide for women who are where I would have been if I had kept on pushing my crazy against someone else’s crazy. And so, I felt it right to pick out some toys and purchase them for the cause.

But let me get back go those tears. As I looked through the toys, I connected. There were toys for all ages. Toys for kids of every race (love! I picked out a Kira Barbie). There was a Princess Tiana costume (Arianna demanded I buy this for the kids). And then, the tears.

A Little People airplane. Mom, are you still reading and crying too? You see, my parents and I got this for Arianna to celebrate her first flight. The flight that moved her to PA after I decided to move home with my ‘ill girl following a year of dealing with pain, pregnancy, and emotional behaviors after my breaking point. In the cart it went.

For the ‘lil ones who are safe from broken homes. For the ‘lil innocent children. For the child who has to deal with painful memories of mom and dad. For me working toward getting over the crazy and healing, learning that everyone is not out to get me.

Any ‘lil bit to do something to help others and to get to a world free of domestic violence, hate, and true crazy…replaced with a world of love and fun. Arianna and I were blessed to get out and move past the crazy. Not everyone is.

If you have a few moments, read up on Christmas Crazy and consider a gift from the wish list for the kids at Center for Victims and Alle-Kiski Hope Center. Michelle will do a good kind of crazy with it, trust me.

Siblings and Patience

Our kiddos were so patient on Christmas morning! We woke them up, got them dressed for church, showed them the present pile and hoped for the best. Our next task was not to let them tear into the gifts, but to travel 50 minutes to surprise my parents at their church then drive back home for snacks and gifts. They were so patient, but weren’t all about holding still for the camera (as you noticed in this post). Although I am partial, I think they are still pretty darn cute.