Wow, that was a whirlwind Christmas season. I’m not sure why it felt so out of control, it’s hard to see what made it so crazy now that we’re safely into January. But it felt pretty nutty. Maybe it’s that
we I decided that December would be a good time to get some work done in our basement. I mean, we were having guests stay down there, we had to spruce it up a bit. So up until the final moments I was cleaning up after contractors and painting and organizing all while trying to manage all the chaos that Amazon boxes and holiday meals creates. I kept trying to make myself stop to digest the amazing fact that I had Amazon boxes to break down and fancy meals to cook. When I stop to look at my holiday frustrations they all center on the abundance that is my life, and boy am I ever thankful for that abundance that makes life crazy.
Anyway, as crazy as the Christmas season was, and as jam packed as my head felt, it was spotted with moments of that sparkly Christmas magic that really only comes once a year, magic rooted in old traditions and blooming from new snatched up present moments.
Here are some of the highlights.
The weekend after thanksgiving we went to cut down our tree. We’ve done this every year, but this was the first year we’ve had to shake snow off the trees. It was beautiful and felt so Christmassy. Of course we had a little debacle about which tree to choose – it’s tradition --- only now it’s not me doing the persuading, my kids are so particular about trees! I wonder where in the world they learned that one? And can I erase what I’ve engrained in them? Because really, they all look beautiful once they’re all lit up.
As chaotic as it is to bring out all the Christmas stuff, it really does bring in such familiar happy feelings.
This year I didn’t quite get everything up. I had to snatch this picture of my front door….it remained only half way lit for the whole season. Every time I walked in that half way done door I reminded myself that I was just kind of half way doing things this season….and it was ok. Christmas would still come and the kids would still feel the thrill of it all. Liz and Heidi and I crashed the Arlington Ward Wreath making party --- another tradition. As we made wreaths together we decided that our method of creating wreaths (and the outcome) was pretty reflective of our personalities. Heidi always makes hers quick and thoughtfully and well executed but not obsessed over while Liz and I dive in, don’t think much and end up with something big and a little out of control, but beautiful. We had a great time really soaking in the Christmas spirit and laughing and eating good food. That event always helps me remember what I should be feeling, centers all my whirling busy-ness and brings me back to what this is all really about. And then there are the letters to Santa, barely sent off in time for that frantic Santa to get in the orders. Don’t you love how Em asked for such practical things? It cracked me up, and I wanted her to get that down in writing before she realized how perfectly practical they were. She never once second thought her desires, and was so pleased with a new little rolly bag on Christmas morning. She’s such a funny girl, very unpredictable at times. We hosted our monthly dinner group for Christmas. Somehow we always get to host in December and I love it. It’s so great having good friends fill up my house, they make it come alive with Christmas cheer. After dinner we always have a great white elephant exchange. We’ve gotten some super useful gifts from that exchange – a ham dogger? An egg cuber? Saved by the Bell board game? Where would my life be without these gifts? The kids were banished to the construction zone basement while we ate. We always bribe them during dinner group with a treat if our guests see (or hear) no evidence that we have children. Surprisingly this works really well. They step up to the challenge….watch their movie and then sneak up to bed. This is very shocking to me and Jeff. Our kids aren’t usually so fantastic. ^^ Our traditional trip to the dollar store where the little kids buy each other presents. This year we had a particularly exciting trip. We were participating in Multiply Goodness’ 24 Days of Giving Challenge and on this day we were trying to somehow “Pay it Forward.” So, at the dollar store we kept our eyes out for someone who we’d like to pay for as they went through the check out line. It was crowded in there and we had a hard time following people while we shopped, but Hazel picked out a mother and her son and we sneakily gave the cashier a twenty and asked him to tell her that she was all set once he rang out her stuff. We huddled outside to watch her reaction. It was pretty exciting to everyone to see her look baffled/excited. We did it a few times, the last time we told the cute teenage looking cashier to just pick someone he felt might need it and we watched, everyone's eyes glued to what was happening in that busy store. Finally, after checking out a half dozen people he gave us a little wink as he rang up a sweet older woman. We watched as she looked at him confused and then suddenly joyful as the surprise dawned on her. She walked out with a spring in her step and our kids eyes lit up. Especially Emmeline. She explained it all to Peter on the way home since he really couldn’t figure out what was happening. I wish I had a recording of the way she described our little effort to pay some goodness forward. (I’m hoping to post more about our experiences with 24 Days of Giving, I think it kind of saved the Christmas season for us). Heidi, Liz and I also spent a day dipping delicious things in chocolate. This is another of my very favorite days in the season. Good friends and chocolate. Doesn’t get much better than that. We always process everything that’s going on in our lives and our families and our hearts. We eat a fancy lunch and box up our goodies to give to neighbors and teachers and friends. It’s always crazy hectic and we leave exhausted, but this day always comes just when I need to be with old friends who remind me of who I am and what I’m trying to accomplish. We spent lots of time by the fire. We love our now working fireplace. Makes me wonder how Christmas ever felt like Christmas for all those years it was broken. The kids slept by the Christmas tree again (a tradition they came up with last year). The kids get so excited about making their beds up super fancy (why can’t they do that every day?) and sleeping by the glow of the tree lights. It was one of my very favorite nights too….I stopped all the crazy running around I was doing and just sat in a chair by the fire and read some old favorite Christmas stories to the kids and a few new ones that I fell in love with. Peter really got the magic of Santa this year. I also spent a lot of the season making photo books. Wish I could get those done before December, but my photography business always takes over my fall. Next year I’m coming up with a better plan, because as much as I love making those books as gifts, it kind of consumes my life for a few of those precious December days. Hazel hand sewed some pretty cute present ornaments. ^^^ and made that adorable gnome with our friend Stacey.
All in all it was a great Christmas season. It always is great looking back on it. The trick is finding a way to see the beauty in it all as your moving through it. I love this Poem I discovered this season in Tasha Tudor’s book Take Joy. A reminder that Joy and Heaven and Peace is within our reach always. We have to reach out and take it.More to come on our right around Christmas traditions.