The plethora of photos and videos are to make up for my lack of actual words written lately. But we are finally digging ourselves out from under the pile of Christmas presents, cookies, and decorations, so here we go!
Christmas seemed to come so fast this year. Shawn and I made a pact to sit back, relax, and enjoy the holiday season. I try to get the majority of my shopping done before Thanksgiving, so I do not have to face the mall, traffic, or the hordes of people in December. I am proud to say that goal was accomplished at least. But there are still always the zillion last-minute runs to Target and the grocery store. And, after bemoaning the fact that Walgreens was actually advertising it would be open on Christmas Day (my words: "Isn't Christmas sacred anymore? Who needs to be at Walgreens on Christmas Day. The tin foil can wait."), I had to eat my words with a run to Walgreens on, yes, Christmas Day for the batteries and baby food that Santa forgot to bring.
This year, I had to remind myself over and over to SIMPLIFY. That was my Christmas theme. And we did. We cut back on the amount of gift exchanges we were involved in. We went to one less Christmas party. We decided not to put out all the Christmas decorations this year, but just a select few. Shawn and I even instituted a 2-gift rule for each other. I admit that at times I was still overwhelmed by everything that needed to get done before Christmas (or I felt needed to get done) and had a couple of Christmas panics. But, on the whole, I feel like we did very well in keeping the chaos to a minimum, the consumerism at bay, and the true meaning of Christmas in abundance. Several nights, we packed the kids in the car after dinner and drove around admiring Christmas lights. I baked more cookies this year than I ever have. And not by buying the mix at the store that you add water and an egg to, which I did last year in a feeble attempt to make some cookies. Everything was from scratch - lemon squares, M&M cookies, special Christmas brownies, sugar cookies, you name it. We faithfully lit the candles of our Advent wreath every night, reading Bible passages and singing songs as we prepared ourselves for the birth of Jesus. Jamie and Clare did extra good deeds throughout Advent, and we wrote them down nightly on little slips of paper to put them in a special Jesus stocking we hung on the tree. They then bought baby Jesus a birthday present (this year he received a stuffed pony), which was carefully wrapped. Both the stocking and present were left under the tree on Christmas Eve. This was the first year Jamie started singing Christmas carols and learned "Jingle Bells," "Silent Night," "The Twelve Days of Christmas," and "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" by heart. Instead of her normal "hi," Clare greeted everyone with "ho ho ho." Simon was the only child who was all smiles sitting on Santa's lap. Now we are counting down the twelve days of Christmas until January 6, the Epiphany of the Lord, the Feast of the Three Kings, when the wisemen came to pay homage to Jesus. (Which also happens to be Shawn's birthday!) That will be when our Christmas season truly ends.
I want my children to remember the traditions we have in our family surrounding Christmas. They may not remember that this was the year that Santa brought Jamie the ninja turtle van or Clare her baby doll stroller or Simon his train, but I hope they remember the joy, fun, laughter, and wonder we had getting ready for Christmas. I know I will.