I think the entire month of December is *almost* better than Christmas Day itself. The anticipation of Christmas and all of the excitement surrounding the big event is what I really love, because there are so many fun moments and traditions to be had. Christmas Day is great and all but I'm a sucker for the entire month of December. Except for when our temperatures drop into the single digits, but let's not go there right now. (So cold all of a sudden).
Christmas pajamas help.
We even got about 4 inches of snow one day this month, but it's been gradually melting ever since. I forgot how pretty snow can be and how much I like it....in December, at least. (Not in April).
We've gotten a real tree for the past three years or so, since both Nate and I grew up with the real deal and we wanted to do the same for our kiddos (and also the smell is unbeatable). This was the first year we went to an actual tree farm, complete with the experience of Nate chopping down our chosen tree and dragging it to the van. It was the cutest little place and had free hot cocoa, hot cider, cookies, face painting, and a craft for the kids. ALSO, Santa made an appearance so between all of that madness we had some very pleased children hopped up on sugar.
The Friday after Thanksgiving, I pulled down our three large Christmas containers from the attic. The kids helped me decorate the inside of the house that morning while Nate was at work. Then Saturday we got our tree and decorated that same day. Sunday Nate hung the outside lights. We were on FIRE with Christmas decorations. We aren't always this on top of things but the kids are at perfect ages for Christmas magic. They were giddy as they pulled out all of the decorations and ornaments. They helped me make a paper link chain countdown calendar. We've been hanging the Christmas cards we receive in the mail. And of course, our Elf on the Shelf came back on St. Nick's Day, so the kids are going nuts for Candy Cane Jane. I almost forgot to move her on the second night she was here, so that's a great start.
Not all of the ornaments, we have SO many and love them all.
Truman took these next pictures and is seriously learning about manual mode on my camera! And Nate is just being Nate.
Regarding St. Nick's Day---does anyone else do this besides Catholics (current, or recovering) in Wisconsin? After posting a picture on Instagram, many people were confused by this 'holiday' and asked if St. Nick is the same as Santa. He is not, in fact, the same guy. My cliff notes version, as someone who had never even heard of this holiday before living in Wisconsin and moving into a semi-Catholic family, is that St. Nick was a pretty generous guy. He is big in Europe and kids will put their shoes out at night, hoping St. Nick will bring candy and treats and small toys. In the US, it's specifically most German Catholics that live in the supper midwest that seem to celebrate St. Nick. Highly technical research proves this is the group that participates, a.k.a. Instagram. Nate grew up getting some candy and a small toy in his stocking on the morning of December 6th. We've been doing the same thing for our kids, except I also like to include their yearly ornament, some window clings, Christmas pajamas, a new winter hat and gloves, and anything really Christmas-y that needs to be used before the big day to get the most effect out of these weeks.
This year we admittedly went a little overboard. Cecelia has been begging for a 'blow up like on Candy Cane Lane,' and Nate found a seven foot Santa for $34. We knew it would be a mega hit so we set him up after the kids went to bed on December 5th. I also got several things from Target and jammed them into the stockings.
The kids slept like crap the night before St. Nick came. Porter didn't know why he was amped up, but he sure was amped. He woke at 3:00am, 3:30am, and 4:00am asking if he could get up yet. He also told me at bedtime the night before, 'Mommy, tomorrow you all come and get me from my crib. Then I get cookies, candy, tootsie rolls, apple cider, a Thomas set, and cake.' Seriously this kid!
The big kids were also awake super early, I heard them talking at 5am in their room. Nate had declared they could come downstairs at 6am, since he was leaving for work at 6:30am and he wanted to see their reactions. At 6:00 on the dot, I heard Truman tell Cecelia it was time. So we all went to get Porter, and came downstairs. They saw our Elf right away and also the blow up Santa outside. I tried to get a video of their reactions but I was too tired to keep recording for long. ;) Needless to say, their minds were blown. They were extremely happy with their stocking loot, and only asked to have candy about a million times before the 8:00 hour. St. Nick's coming made for an extremely long day for me and the kids, but hey----it's all in the Christmas spirit, yes?
Some other happenings: the big kids had their annual Holiday Sing at school this week, and it was unbelievably adorable.
They both dressed up for their concert and Nate and I both rushed home after seeing a few patients in the morning, to arrive at the 10am concert. Tony and Lois came with Porter, too, and saved us seats (thankfully!). Cecelia's class was crazy-good for a bunch of four year olds and Truman's class was super intense and focused on their message about not eating Poinsettias, and how they were going to be nice not naughty. I find it so interesting that all of these songs rarely even mention the word 'Christmas'. I mean, I know it's a public school and Christ is out, 'Holidays' are in, since everyone's beliefs need to be included. It's just such a sharp contrast to how I grew up singing about baby Jesus in the manger, although I did go to a Lutheran grade school. One song Cecelia sang was 'We Wish you a Merry Christmas' and that might have been it for the 'C' word. It was every bit worth it too, with awesome hand gestures.
We have our annual neighborhood 'house crawl' tomorrow night, which is always a fantastic time (adults only, obvi). Next week I am chairing the Teacher's Cookie Exchange at school, which is a lot of work on the front end but hopefully not too awful on the day itself. We encourage the families to bake and send in cookies, so that the teachers can fill tins with a few dozen cookies with lots of variety. This way each family doesn't have to feel the need to bake cookies for the teachers individually and those that can do it seem to enjoy it. Then the following week I am volunteering and helping to plan both Cecelia's and Truman's class party. Again, I freaking love this stuff but am starting to realize that there is just a LOT going on right now. I still need to buy plenty of presents for people, although we might be mostly set for the kids' gifts. My mom and dad, probably my brother, and Nate's brother and his wife are all coming to visit us the week after Christmas. It's going to be a grand old time!
Truman's Christmas list:
Paper chain link:
We also decorated a gingerbread house as a family, it was hilarious and then Porter couldn't take it anymore and had to eat a bunch of the candy. The end.
This time of year is busy and hectic, and overwhelming if I let it become so, and yet? I just love it. Especially with kids, Christmas is just the best!