5 December 2016

let the lights of christmas shine!

last thursday, moses and i met up with some friends at the lighting of the christmas tree at trafalgar square. it was a beautiful, clear, chilly but not super cold night. it was crowded in the square, but not too dense back by the lions where we were standing. all the air around us was buzzing with that specific, magical type of excitement that can only be attributed to christmastime.

carols were sung (by a lovely choir and also by the crowd!) and speeches were given about the trafalgar square christmas tree. every year since 1947, a tall evergreen is cut down in the forests outside oslo, transported (all fifty or so feet) across the sea and land, and put up in the heart of london as a gift to england - a token of gratitude from the people of norway for british support during world war two.

we weren't sure when exactly the lights on the tree would be switched on - i anticipated there would be some type of countdown or loud announcement. as tiny specks in that big crowd, we waited. we could not see the person speaking into the microphone.

a melodious voice with a norwegian accent was speaking about the history of the gifted tree and took a short pause. then, the voice said - very clearly but not loudly - "let the lights of christmas shine." and BOOM the lights on the tree illuminated.

for some reason, i was so touched by this - by the lack of fanfare and pageantry, by this simple but powerful declaration and the glowing that immediately followed. i thought, as i walked home through the dark bustling night, about the light of christmas. it's jesus's light, and it's real. and it's up to me, to all of us, to let it shine.

and yes, there is great glow and warmth in the glitzy fun of christmastime - in the decorations and the gifts and the parties and the treats. but the real light comes from acts of service and love that are quiet but clear, simple and heartfelt.

have you heard about the #lighttheworld campaign?
our church has encouraged all to let the lights of christmas shine by performing simple acts of service every day in december leading up to christmas. mormon.org has provided inspiration and ideas for each day.

just browsing through the website has me goosebumpy with that real christmas joy, and ian, moses and i are following along and doing our best to contribute to lighting the world throughout the month.

i feel particularly tender about christmas this year, because i gave birth to a baby this year. thinking about mary birthing in that stable is overwhelmingly amazing and beautiful to me, in a new way now. considering god's gift of his son, packaged as a tiny and supremely humble newborn, fills my heart like never before. i really believe that whole story, and all that follows, is real. i see that reality in the light of christmas. and i hope to really let it shine. {trafalgar square image via}

30 November 2016

neuschwanstein castle!

the day after our epic thanksgiving celebration and feast in munich, the ten of us wrights traveled on a tram and then a train and then a bus to get to neuschwanstein castle!

when i went to neuschwanstein last year with my mom and sisters, ian was a bit green with envy because he had always wanted to see that spectacular castle himself. so when we decided to go to munich for thanksgiving, we knew that making the day trip to neuschwanstein was a must!

for weeks before we left for germany, i hoped and hoped that we would have snow at neuschwanstein ... can you imagine how magical that would be?! instead we got a foggy, grey, dry day ... but i'm going to go ahead and call it mystical and enchanting :)

moses and i hung out around the grounds of the castle while the rest of the crew went inside (since i had been inside last year, i didn't want to pay for a ticket again). after ian and hyrum's family finished the tour, we all hiked up to the bridge to take in the famous vista across the gorge to the castle. i was so excited for going on the bridge because it was closed when i went to neuschwanstein last year! the visibility wasn't great but it was still so pretty! i asked ian to take some photos of moses and i in our matching hats on the bridge, and he took about seventy five :)

we all walked back down the hill through the woods together and agreed that our visit was well worth the trip!


^^ our first mystical view of the castle! ^^
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^^ foggy views from the hill ^^

^^ he's always trying to find something to eat :) ^^

^^ i'm going to go ahead and say he is giving me a little kiss here :) ^^
^^ the view under the bridge. spot my shoes? ^^ IMG_7197IMG_7223
^^ and our last mystical view of the castle! ^^
^^ walking back through the woods. between these two photos we can see everyone's face :) love these people! ^^

29 November 2016

thanksgiving (and christmas markets!!!) in munich

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on the evening of thanksgiving day, we flew from london to munich. ian’s brother hyrum is living there with his wife heather and their five kids – and we had been looking forward for months to visiting them and celebrating thanksgiving with them! they were kind enough to observe the holiday and have the feast a day late to accommodate us (ian had to work through thursday but took the day off on friday).

{i couldn’t let the fourth thursday in november go by without some kind of commemoration though, so we ate turkey, cranberry and stuffing sandwiches before boarding our flight :)}

we got in late thursday night and were so excited to see the kids in the morning! after breakfast, heather and i – with lots of help from the kids! - buzzed about the kitchen making pies and chopping vegetables. hyrum took the three of us, along with his three boys, down to the city center to see the famous glockenspiel at marienplatz. at the stroke of eleven, we stood, along with lots of other tourists!, with craned necks watching the figurines play drums, dance and joust! it was pretty cool. then ian (with sleeping moses on his chest) and i climbed with jonathan and spencer to the top of the church tower, and then we all mulled around the christmas markets for a bit before heading home to work on and enjoy our thanksgiving feast!

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^^ an eight year old took this photo :) ^^
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^^ a pretty scene on the way back to hyrum and heather's place! ^^
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^^ i gotta say, our thanksgiving feast was pretty epic. it's no small feat to make that traditional meal, especially in a foreign country! heather was so amazing to find almost everything we needed at different stores and markets around munich, and i brought a few things from england. the turkey and all the trimmings turned out gloriously delicious! ^^
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^^ this weirdly-lit picture is the best family thanksgiving photo we got. also taken by an eight year old :) // aren't the napkin holders / place cards that hannah and charlotte made so cute?! ^^
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^^ big cheers for thanksgiving dinner! ^^
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^^ look at that plate of goodness! // moses makes a pretty cute turkey, we think! :) ^^
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^^ moses cuddling with cousin charlotte ... and hooray for the pumpkin (and apple, and vanilla creme) pie! ^^

it was so wonderful to celebrate thanksgiving with family. and to reflect on all, all, all we have to be thankful for. i snapped this photo of our thankful tree (on our fridge, which we've been adding to throughout the month of november) before we left for the airport:

our life is so bounteous and beautiful, and i am so so so thankful! 
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