Saturday, January 25, 2014

Christmas 2013 in Review

I can't believe that a month has flown by since Christmas. I still don't have my New Year's picture taken, never mind the card ready to be mailed. (A few years ago I took an idea from a friend and decided to take one thing off of the Christmas to-do pile and share it with New Years; hence why they are New Year's cards...but maybe they'll be valentines this year?)

I strive to keep stress out of Christmas and at some moments I'm better than others. It's a work in progress. I think different families have their holidays that they do really well and are relatively stress-free. My parents might disagree with me, but I remember birthdays to be the best "holiday" (with the lowest stress) when I was growing up. We'd sometimes do parties, but it was more about the specialness of the day. They weren't anything elaborate (especially according to today's standards), but we'd have a special cake and at least a few friends over to celebrate. I still love birthdays and celebrating them.
Dreams of sugarplums, or maybe nursing...

I'm a summer baby, so that definitely helped. (My sister's birthday is right before Christmas. I'm sure she sees it differently!) As a teacher, my mom was usually not in the classroom in June, so her overfilled piles were slightly more manageable, and she was able to celebrate my birthday with fewer other responsibilities. She was one of the brave parents in the 80s who worked outside of home (is WOHM an acronym? I'm new to some of the internet lingo). My perfectionism definitely has roots in my parents, and in many respects, I'm in awe of how they did it all. Our house was always picked up (except for maybe my room...); 85-95% (if not all) of dinners were homemade; my dad owned his own business, and from when I was in 4th grade on, my mom worked full-time (prior to that she worked part-time). They had two daughters who took piano lessons, flute/french horn lessons, sang in the church youth choir, were active in sports...You get the idea. I feel overwhelmed just thinking about it! Hence my piles. It's one of the things that I've had to let go of in order to maintain my sanity...

Back to Christmas…
My parents really liked to decorate the house for Christmas. 
Wrapping up the Ornaments
All out. 
The day after Thanksgiving, the decorations came out of their hiding in the attic.
The tree was decorated.
Not just a tree, but most of the decorations around the house were replaced with Christmas-themed items. 
The plates were put away in favor of Christmas plates. 
Lights went up. 
My mom sewed dresses for both my sister and me.
We baked at least a dozen different kinds of cookies (probably more).
We ate a special Christmas Eve dinner (homemade).
We went to a Christmas Eve service (sometimes a Christmas Day service, too).
We ate a special Christmas Day breakfast (homemade).
We ate a special Christmas Day dinner (homemade).
Miss S and Santa
Plus, my mom started a tradition with our little family. Santa brought 13 presents - one to open on each of the 12 days of Christmas (one on Christmas day; one present for each of the days leading to Epiphany). I think it's a wonderful idea (but in concept!). We of course loved it, but as an adult, the idea of having to wrap that many more presents almost pushes me over the edge. My sister is awesome in continuing that tradition.

I'm just exhausted making that list. I can't believe that my parents survived all of those Christmases. 

That's probably why our Christmas decorations make it out, oh maybe by mid-December? I'm planning to get better about it as the kiddos get older, but I don't go all out. We have a few music boxes, a Christmas mouse that my sister and I made as children, stockings, and a Christmas tree. The front door stocking decoration and garland didn't even make it out this year. Oops.

I let the stress pull me in a little more this year than last. But, I'm working on it. 

My highlights this year? It was the little things. The things that I cherish about Christmas and what it represents and means for me - the simplicity of the babe being birthed in a manger. Love coming to the world in a whole new way - through Christ. The part that comes in front of -mas. The true meaning of Christmas (for me as a Christian).

The moments that were truly love-filled this Christmas are what I'm hoping to remember...

Watching Santa fly in by helicopter at a local airport and Miss S's excitement to see him.

Picking out a Christmas tree with my little family of four.

Helping Miss S to make snowmen ornaments out of glue, glitter, and toothpicks.

Miss S making a star with her grandma for our Christmas tree and then watching her face light up when she saw the star at the top of the tree.

Having Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off together with my family.

Getting to attend church with my husband on Christmas Eve (who has to work every Sunday).

Celebrating Mr. C's first Christmas.

The Star
My nephews' excitement about wanting everyone to open the presents that they purchased for others. (I love that they were more excited about giving their gifts than seeing what they received. It was awesome.) 

Watching my kiddos play with my sister's kiddos and enjoying the simple things - running around, looking at books, being children together.

Miss S carefully appreciating each ornament as we wrapped them up for another year.

"Our Lights!"
Hearing Miss S say, “Our lights!!” when she would see our house at nighttime.

Long after the decorations are put away and the Christmas tree has lost its needles, these moments are what I want to capture.

A Present from her Cousin. Talk about Pure Joy...

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