Christmas in Pictures

Well, it’s been busy here and between my family still in town and the baby being sick there hasn’t been much time for posting. I wanted to put up just a few photos from our holiday. Enjoy!

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 It was a beautiful Christmas! How about yours?

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Family at Christmas

I want to say how excited I am to have my family here this Christmas. Staying home is new to Derek and I. We are used to packing up and traveling each Christmas, usually by road, but since we’ve had kids our family has been generous enough to come to us. Traveling at Christmas is time-consuming, stressful, and expensive. We know. So we are really appreciative that they all agreed to come our way for a few years.

I’ve had a lot of fun decorating this year. I only put up the items that are truly meaningful to us. This has helped simplify decorating and made it more sentimental. There’s the “Merry Christmas” garland hanging over the mantle given to me years ago by a patient; the snowman sign from my mom which hangs in the entry; our kiwi and pukeko ornaments from New Zealand. My favorite is the nativity scene given to me by my husband and in-laws when we moved to Idaho. When I look at each item it warms my heart to think of all the family and friends that love and care for us.

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Along with the wonderful aspects of having family for Christmas there’s also the chores. Grocery shopping, errand running, cleaning, and house prep. But it’s all a small task in the end. I agree with those that say a full house is a happy house. I remember my brother and I giving up our rooms and moving to the couch when my grandparents came for Christmas. The kitchen was bustling, conversation was copious, and memories abounded because everyone was in such close quarters. It’s family. And that’s the beauty of it.

So, bring out the cheese trays and antipasto; the See’s candy and the cookies. The children will release our spirit within as we all fondly recall the anticipation of Santa. Everyone will curl up on the couch and watch It’s a Wonderful Life as we join together in being thankful for each other this holiday season.

They arrive tomorrow and I can’t wait.

Sing Along

I love Christmas music. It’s so much more than just a song. The spirit and sentiments that accompany the familiar melodies bring us closer to family, help us forget our worries, and bring a smile to our faces. My husband has a low tolerance level for this part of the holiday. A song here and there, okay, but playing Christmas music all day is a great way to drive him right out of the house. However, he does have one exception. Ahhh, I love this man.

He never tires of John Denver and The Muppets: A Christmas Together. Not only will he listen to it, he will sing along with great gusto. And in all the Muppet voices.

So here’s a toast to Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the rest of the Muppet crew!

Do you have a favorite Christmas album?

Simple Christmas

In recent years we’ve enjoyed celebrating Christmas in a simpler form by focusing less on the gifts and more on making memories. I think gift giving is an important part of Christmas, especially for children, as it teaches them to be thoughtful towards others. However, I prefer it be a “side dish” as opposed to the “main entrée.” The Christmas memories from childhood that made a big impression on me include: 1) a tree lighting when I was about eight, 2) one year when my parents took us to Park City, and 3) watching a Christmas morning sunrise while singing carols and eating cinnamon rolls. These are beautiful memories and all were events rather than specific gifts.

The following is a list of how we plan to celebrate the season this year in Boise, Idaho. All can be found at this website.

1. Festival of Trees

2. Winter Garden Aglow

3. The Christmas Run

4. Christmas Church Walk

5. Family walks with the dog.

6. Donations to: Women’s and Children’s Alliance, Boise Rescue Mission, BabySteps, Toys For Tots, and The Salvation Army. Remember, a donation can be as simple as a $5 toy for a child or tossing the change from your wallet into The Salvation Army bucket.

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For more general ideas, below is a link to a wonderful list of how to simplify Christmas posted by one of my favorite blogs I’ve been following. My personal picks are: The Ultimate Clutter Free Gift Giving Guide, 5 Powerful Ways to Share an Experience This Holiday Season, and The Top of Your Holiday To-Do List: Breathe.

Becoming Minimalist: The Helpful Guide to Simple Christmas Links

What sort of special events are you attending this year? What about following Christmas family traditions or something to keep the holiday simple?

Holiday Sense: a childhood reflection

When I was a child, Christmastime meant that our house transformed from the everyday usual to a festive feast for the senses. My mom loves to decorate and Christmas was the ultimate. The boxes would come down from the shelves in the garage and I was always eager to share in the veiling of the house.

Upon entering, crafty snowmen and Santa Clauses greeted guests at the door. A turn into the living room and the Christmas tree stood tall with all its brilliant lights and sentimental ornaments. An angel topper fondly looked on. Two stockings, hand knit by a great-aunt, hung on the mantle bearing the image of Santa Claus. Knick-knacks flooded the entryway, coffee table, kitchen, and bathrooms. It was as if they guided you through the house welcoming you along your journey.

My dad brought in the firewood and with a little kindling, the warmth wrapped around the room. As we decorated the tree the needles poked my hand and a remnant of sap occasionally remained. Each ornament, carefully placed, reminded us of a past memory.

Christmas songs filled the air and the world seemed a brighter place. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas…O Holy Night…Santa Claus Is Coming To Town…Jingle Bells…Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.

A trip into the kitchen and cider could be found simmering on the stove. A waft of those sweet apples somehow transported me to a calm, peaceful place. Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg. As I dipped the ladle in, the clove studded orange danced around as if happy to see me.

And then, there were all the delicious treats. Each day my mom and I would bake something new. Gingersnaps, sugar cookies, zebra cookies, cream cheese mints, rice pudding, and fresh bread. Our feet would ache and we would fall exhausted onto the couch, satisfied with our bounty of mouth-watering goods.

Yes, it truly was a joy of the senses.

Wonderment

I saw pure wonderment through the eyes of my daughter today. I didn’t grow up around others with children and very few of my friends have kids so I haven’t observed the pure sweetness of innocence until now. The day after Thanksgiving we went and picked out a Christmas tree. Hannah has seen a few around town but doesn’t yet understand what Christmas is all about.

While she was down for her nap on Friday we got the tree put up and the lights on it. When she came down and turned the corner to find a lit up tree she was entirely speechless. Her steps became purposeful and slow as she walked over to that tree. Her eyes were wide and her mouth agape as she stared up. The rest of the day she spent time by that tree making friends.

Since she had so much interest over our tree at home Derek and I decided to take her to the Festival of Trees here in Boise. This is a wonderful event put on by St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center that features dozens of Christmas trees and wreaths decorated by local schools and businesses. The whole event is elaborate and colorful and really gets you into the Christmas spirit. After the festival, the trees are either sold to individuals or donated to local organizations in need.

As we walked in the door to see the trees she was distracted by a ticket they gave her upon entering. She wanted to hold it. I helped her put it in her pocket and then, she looked up. Right in front of her was a tree decorated all in purple, gold, and green. Bright lights, tinsel, and elves. And there was the look again. Wonderment. I picked her up to help her see and the glow of her eyes twinkling in the lights and her face of utter amazement brought tears to my eyes. Such beautiful beautiful innocence.

I wonder when I’ll get to see this face again. I can’t wait. It’s not predictable but that makes it all the more extraordinary.

Hannah’s 1st Christmas, 2 months old