Monday, December 19, 2011

All things bright and beautiful

This holiday season didn't start out like we thought it would.  Dean and I were both sick.  In fact, we still sort of are.  Three weeks of this, and it is tough to shake.  We didn't get the Christmas lights up on the house.  It was too cold and snowy the first two weekends of the month, and well, we were sick.  I did get one, lonely little wreath up by the front door.  We did get most of the inside decorations up, though, in record time for us.  I unloaded all of the bookshelves that hold our school stuff, and I filled them in with my Santa collection (26)  and my Nativity collection (5).  We placed our small tree up in the front window, on a little table.  It is the designated Santa tree - it has all of the Santa ornaments.  Then we put up the main tree in our open living room/kitchen, which is a new thing for us this year.  We usually put it up in the big picture window in the play room (which I suppose would really be considered a dining room).  But that always encouraged kids to mess with it, drape it with toys and Jordan would suspend his marble track from it.  So we moved it this year, and I just love the new location.  We can see it at all times, I can chase kitty out of it before she strangles herself on a light string, and I can chase down Colin each time he runs away with an ornament.  It may not be visible to the street anymore, but our little tree is, and that is enough.

I swore a long time ago that this was to be the month of 'No'.  I only wanted to do things that really meant something special to us.  I was not going to pressure myself to do every little thing that came along.  We made up a wish list of Holiday Must-have's during our trip to OKC over Thanksgiving.

  • Get the Christmas lights up on the house (next year - BEFORE Thanksgiving)
  • Put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving
  • Do the advent calendars
  • Drive around and look at Christmas Light displays - sometime the week before Christmas
  • Go to the Nutcracker
  • Attend the Christmas Eve Candlelight service
  • Plan several different nights of popcorn and Holiday movie
  • Putting together the Christmas -themed puzzles
  • Make cookies.  Lots of them.  Deliver them to friends.
  • Put up the Santa Collection/Nativity scenes
  • Make a tree ornament/do crafts
  • Visit Santa
  • Write out Christmas lists/complete a letter to Santa
  • Go to the Hall of Trees at the Lincoln Center
  • Build a gingerbread house
  • Read multiple Christmas books, every day (we have about 60...)
  • Take a family picture
This year brought a few surprises when attempting to stick to the list.  Most of the items involve just us or close family.  I love that.  No programs, group events, gift exchanges... all of those events incur a lot of stress - principally on me.  This has been the least- stressful holiday season on record.

  • We didn't get the lights up.  Being sick and bad weather were the principal reason.  I feel bad about that, but on the bright side, there will be no stress of take-down, and no boost to the electric bill either.
  • We did get the tree up.  It took an extra week to get the lights on it because it was hard to get Dean motivated. ;)
  • We are doing the advent calendars, and I even made a new one.
  • We will be driving around looking at lights with my mom tomorrow night.
  • Rylan and I went to the Nutcracker last weekend with mom.  It was wonderful!
  • We will be going to the Christmas Eve service with my Dad, brother, SIL and nephews, and listen as my mom plays the organ.  Should be very nice.   Owen and Colin will most likely be in the nursery - which they just love after spending so much time in there all during the fall while we were in Financial Peace University.
  • We did the bulk of the holiday movies the first few days of December, in order to allow Jordan as much popcorn as humanly possible before he got braces on the 6th.
  • Puzzles are going out today - per Jordan's request.
  • So far we have made one batch of Christmas cookies- plenty more to come this week.
  • Put up Santas and Nativities.  Accomplished by Dec 4th  Yay me.
  • Make a tree ornament.  Sometime this week.
  • Visit Santa.  We did this last night.  We went to our local community garden/education center, and it was just beautiful - I loved every minute of it.  The light displays were all garden-themed.  Plants, insects... there was even an imaginary Koi pond with lighted fish moving across.  Santa sat under an outdoor shelter and visited a long time with each and every kiddo that came along.  There wasn't a very long line (it was cold), and the kids thought it was just amazing and magical.  Santa even visited with Jordan, who stood at a respectful distance.  Jordan's magic was abruptly cut short a couple years ago.  Santa was very cool with it all, and gave Jordan some wise words of wisdom: Keep the magic alive in your heart.  Amen.
  • Each kid wrote out wish lists by cutting out pictures and pasting.  Rylan managed to write out a letter to Santa last week - it will go in the Christmas scrapbook.
  • The Hall of Trees was something of a mystery.  The performance hall was closed last year for renovation, so we were eagerly anticipating it this year.  In the years past (mom and I have made this our tradition for over ten years), thirty to forty merchants would decorate a tree with a theme and create an entire display with gifts, decorations, etc...  It took a half an hour to stroll past all of the displays that ran the length of the entire complex.  This year the kids and I met mom on the first day of the tree display (it was advertised in the paper and on the web) and there were no trees.  At least not like we were expecting.  There were 15-20 'mini-trees' on display in the art gallery room.  They were decorated rather simply, and were part of a silent auction.  That was it.  We were there 10 minutes.  What a huge disappointment.  We weren't the only ones baffled - there were a lot of confused patrons wandering around as well.  I hope they get back in the game next year.
  • Build a gingerbread house.  The kids and I did this this past Friday.  A lot of work but it was pretty fun, actually.  I've never made one before, so I am adding it to my list of 40 Things (this will be #2) I suck at frosting anything but Jordan swore I did a really good job.  The cat, of all things, has been nibbling away at the roof all weekend.
  • We have been reading Christmas stories all month.  We still have more than half of the books to go... I think I need to pare down our collection.
  • Take a family picture.  We tried this yesterday.  The kids cooperated, but we were outside, looking partially into the sun and at least one family member in every picture is doing something they shouldn't be doing.  We are going to try again tonight... with a picture of all of us in our Christmas pj's....we'll see.
  • There was a cookie-exchange party that I was invited to just this past weekend.  I really really wanted to go, but we already had family plans and then the chicken pox fiasco just wrenched everything.  I feel that it is important to avoid anyone and everyone until 14 days have passed,  which is, thankfully, Dec. 23rd.  Otherwise we would miss the family Christmas Eve brunch and I would be mad as hell.
  • There was also my bookclub ornament exchange/party this past Saturday, but I already knew I was going to be missing that weeks ago because Jordan and Dean were going to be snowshoeing in RMNP with the scout troop and my mom couldn't watch the kids.
  • We went to see White Christmas at our local dinner theater last Sunday with my brother and SIL.  My mom graciously gave the four of us tickets to the matinee and $20 each couple to spend on any extras like drinks or dessert.  She said to think of it as a gift from my late grandma Betty.. which makes me want to cry and smile at the same time.  Mom also offered to babysit all seven grand kids (at our house) while we were at the show.  My 15 yr old nephew manned the first hour on his own, until my mom arrived at our house after finishing up the last service at church.  He did a terrific job.  He even rocked Colin to sleep and placed him in his bed.  We had an awesome time at the show.  I can't remember the last time the four of us went out... it's literally been years.  The show was very good (I've never seen it before) and it makes me want to learn how to tap dance.
Each weekend has been a true delight.  Not too busy, but with just enough activities to keep things special and magical in their own right.  Having a slow month meant that I could schedule a focus weekend to get potty training underway which is my Christmas present to myself.  It's a little chilly for Owen to be running around in just a shirt and underwear, but it's working.  The two times that we left the house (for pictures and to see Santa) he wore pants as well, and each time by the end of the event he was wet, but we were prepared with extra underwear and pants in the car.  At least he didn't pee on Santa.  :)  We did that first thing.

Here is a picture diary...

Happy Holidays!

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