Sunday, December 28, 2014

You knew it was coming-the Christmas recap

It took me longer than usual to get in the spirit. The warm Colorado temperatures, the lack of snow, and missing some of our tried and true MN traditions like caroling with friends, kids' Christmas piano recitals, and the church musical, left December feeling decidedly un-Christmas-like for me. Instead we hiked and the kids and Jim skied and we visited homeschool co-ops to start in January and we worked our tails off to get as much school as possible done.

Then the temperatures dropped a bit and the snow started to fall, we started to make cookies and started some new traditions with my mom and Keith and my cousin and his family. The gifts were wrapped and the excitement built. The bible verses were read, full of waiting and wondering and anticipating the beautiful gift of Jesus that had been prophesied about for ages.

The spirit of Christmas grabbed hold. And it was beautiful. It is beautiful.

I think Christmas Eve might be my favorite day of the year. Although, like picking my favorite child or my favorite season of the year, it is impossible to decide since there are so many good days. At any rate, it is a quiet family day for us, full of our own little traditions that make me so happy and help me focus on the beauty of the season, the coming of my Savior, the little baby who changed the world, the love of my family.

We play games, we read books, we wrap any last minute gifts, we hang out. This year we baked cookies. Some years we play in the snow. It is a day for relaxing and family. I put soup in the crockpot so a steaming hot and delicious smelling meal is waiting for us when we return from church. We go to church in the late afternoon and sing Silent Night, candles held tightly, just as darkness falls. After church we drive around to look at Christmas lights.
making Jim's favorite cookies


This year the three big kids sat and sang all of our favorite songs. Elliot got hot and took off his sweater and sat in church in his tres shirt. Asher stood on my lap and waved his arms to conduct the musicians, said "dance, dance, dance" every time the music stopped, and actually made it through the entire service without having to be escorted to the back by his bouncer mama or dada.

The church service was beautiful. The pastor talked about her Christmas tree as a child. How they would leave it on when they went to church on Christmas Eve and when they came home the glow of the lights would illuminate the living room. How God sent Jesus to do just that, illuminate the dark. How we are called to do just that, be light in a dark world. Then they turned the lights off and we held our candles and sang Silent Night. I looked down the row and saw my husband and three of my kids staring at their lights, singing gently so as not to blow the candles out, and tears streamed down my face at the love felt within that room and the love shown to the world by Jesus and the opportunities to love we are given each day and the love I felt for the little Asher-boy in my lap and the rest of my family as I watched them. Jim smiled at me over the tops of those four little heads because he knows I always cry in moments like that. It was just such a tender, holy, big moment. One of those moments where my heart is so filled with love that my eyes overflow with tears.
In front of the tree at church
Admittedly, light viewing was a bust this year as we weren't sure where to look in our new town and the internet wasn't much help. The kids didn't seem to notice and as it goes with all big days, something has to fall off the tracks. In case we thought things were going according to plan, I forgot the Christmas CDs in the house, the Christmas radio station wasn't playing Christmas songs which we thought was crazy talk, and we are so far out in the sticks that Pandora radio wouldn't work. So, we provided our own Christmas carols and sang loud and proud. No one got carsick and Asher was mostly entertained so yeah, us for the win!
in front of the tree at home

under the stockings lovingly made by Jim's aunt

Choochie Face and his gift, lovingly wrapped by Elliot
We got home to kielbasa soup (for the record, eeewwww) that the rest of the family asked for and I love them so I say yes to soup requests involved processed meat product approximately twice per year. That's true love, folks. We ate and got PJed up and I put Asher to bed. The rest of us snuggled up under cozy blankets with popcorn bowls resting on our laps to watch The Nutcracker Ballet, just like we do every year. We all have our favorite dances and we love the music and Elliot said he could watch it about seven times a year without getting bored. But we watch it just this once because that is what makes it special.
Snuggled in to watch The Nutcracker ballet
We got the rest of the kids to bed after cookies and carrots were left out for Mr. Claus and his helpful little reindeer, made all the more important because of the visit from Santa we had earlier in the week.
Ready for Santa
Jim and I made Christmas morning coffee cake and egg bake, then played the part of the elves and got the house ready for Christmas festivities the next morning before heading to bed ourselves, knowing it would be an early morning for our excited children.
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Ready for kids on Christmas morn
Christmas morning dawned bright and early. Scratch that. . . dark and early. We raced out to the living room to see what was in stockings and to open the gift that Santa brought. Audrey got cowgirl boots and two tickets to Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella in February. Isaac and Elliot got Nuggets t-shirts and tickets to see the Nuggets play the Timberwolves in January. We discovered we are a house divided because Isaac's rooting for the Wolves and Elliot for the Nuggets. Should be fun! Asher got a little table just his size for the school room so he can read his books and play with his little boys just like a big kid. All the kids were very pleased.
checking out their stockings

happy with all those hair binders

So happy sitting at his own little table
We had breakfast and then headed back for more gifts. Jim and I give each child three gifts. Something to wear, something to read, and something to play. Then each child gets one more gift from the siblings. Four gifts, plus one from Santa, for each kid keeps the house from getting crazy with toys, helps us focus on the real reason we celebrate Christmas, and has the added bonus of allowing us to afford groceries for our family. Details, details, right?
Teamwork to bring me my big gift

he's unwrapping his own gift!!!

Broncos/Vikings fan

A happy Anne of Green Gables reader

whispering Christmas secrets 
fierce skier ready to hit the slopes

brothers. love.

happy mama. happy baby

Lego building

Heroes of Olympus
The kids loved the books they received and Audrey, upon opening her Anne of Green Gables series said, "Oh, aren't new books so beautiful?" Isaac and Elliot promptly zoned out with their Heroes of Olympus and Droon books, respectively. Legos were built. Teeth were eventually brushed. At least I think we all got around to that. Pjs were eventually swapped for clothes. We've played many fantastic games of Ticket to Ride together and Audrey is looking forward to cashing in her gift certificate to the pottery paint shop in town. The gifts weren't extravagant by any means, but we try to get things they love. Hopefully we succeeded. The smiles indicate we did.

My mom came over for a nice lunch and the snow started to fall. It was just lovely. Isaac, Audrey, and Elliot drove home with my mom to spend the night and help her shop on the 26th since she was waiting to score some sweet deals as we are celebrating with my grandparents and my brother and his family later this week. That's when we'll have the family-filled, noisy, grand Christmas celebration. We're happy to have that one to look forward to, but there is just something wonderful about our simple, quiet (you know, for six people) Christmas Eve and Christmas at home.

How did you celebrate? What was your favorite gift? 
P.S. Bonus points if you made it all the way to the end of this loooong and picture-filled post. Looks like you're ready to tackle Gone with the Wind now.


  1. I was just looking at my kindle the other day and contemplating re-reading gone with the wind, but I really need 3 days to just read, and there is a lot of new years cleaning that I would like to do. I'm starting to decide that my closet needs a major purge instead of the tshirt here and there that I've been slowly getting rid of.

    Looks like you had a great christmas! On the actual eve and day I was feeling a little blue, but I'm feeling much better now.

    1. I'm sorry Christmas eve and day weren't feeling very jolly for you. It can be such a hard time with such high expectations and so many emotions. Glad to read you're feeling better.