Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lots of Christmas

Our past few days have been FULL of Christmas fun.

It started Saturday night at Grandma and Grandpa's: lots of music, laughing, cousins, and noise. Of course there was also a wonderful turkey dinner and--the best Christmas dessert ever invented--eggnog trifle.


Even though we act out the nativity story every year, we never manage to plan ahead with costumes, parts, etc. So . . . this year's costumes were a little . . . unconventional.

(Amanda was an angel and Ben was a wise man.)


We also had two Marys, because one little person just wouldn't back down.


Later, Santa arrived, wearing a red disco jacket and a . . . bib?


It's always so much fun to see what the kids come up with :)

Grandma sent us home with presents,


which we opened before bed. Christmas Eve with new PJ's . . . there is nothing like it!


Alaina woke up early the next morning, and we got the others out of bed to see that Santa really had come.


And after that it was toys,






and--yes--more toys.


We had a great time building, playing, reading, and--my favorite--introducing the new Ariel Barbie to the other princess Barbies :)


After church, we headed out to Grandma and Grandpa J's house for another delicious turkey dinner, another cousin, and more toys.

Ben and his cousin Jack both got very realistic light sabers, and Grandpa was adventurous enough to take them outside in the dark to play with them.

From the living room window, it seemed as though I was actually watching a scene from Star Wars. The boys were pretty happy. (Don't worry, Janae and Alaina had a turn with them later!).


With all that Christmas, you might think we've had enough . . . but you know, we can't wait to do it all again next year :)

And Alaina does keep saying, "Only two more days 'till Christmas!!!!"

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Tradition "More Honored in the Breach"

Our family has a few traditions. We like to make waffles on Sunday mornings and go to the library on Thursdays for story time. We make a chocolate ghost pie every Halloween and always visit the pumpkin patch at the first sign of fall.

When it gets closer to Christmas, we have even more traditions. We decorate cookies and make other treats,


drive around to look at lights,


and watch favorite shows like The Muppet Christmas Carol, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

We have pictures with Santa,


and . . . you’ve heard about the elf.

These are fun family traditions.

Some traditions, though, are "more honored in the breach than the observance," as Hamlet would say--or, simply put, "better broken than kept."

(Ben and Janae trading PJs, for example . . . we just can't have that happen again!)


Anyway, I must confess that I have a little Christmas tradition of my own that does nothing to enhance the holidays.

It always starts early in the season. . . .

My children write their Christmas lists and I can’t help but buy some of the items. I find them on sale or see that there are only a couple left at the store, and I think it would be wise to “pick one up” before the opportunity is lost.

As the weeks pass, my closet becomes packed with gifts, and I feel happy with what I have accomplished. I think about how close I am to being finished my Christmas shopping and about how much time I will be able to spend just enjoying the holidays and focusing on the true meaning of Christmas.

This sounds like a great tradition—and you might be thinking I am a smart, well-organized mom.

But no.

More time passes, and my children start to mention—as children do—other items they would like to receive on Christmas morning. We visit Santa, and I happen to overhear my children whisper quite different lists than the ones I’d seen . . . and made come true.


I start to wonder about those toys hidden away in the closet. Should I take them back? Should I buy more? Am I being too thrifty? Am I being too extravagant? Will they be excited to see these gifts? Will this Christmas have enough magic?

I lie awake at night, thinking about each child and what he or she wants or needs. I get another this or that from the store and then wonder if I’ve bought too many gifts . . . or not enough.


Today is the 23rd, and even though I thought I was pretty much ready for Christmas on December 1, I found myself slipping out to get something I felt we NEEDED to have sticking out from the tops of the stockings (because Janae and Ben were talking about how much fun it was to see last year!).


As I was driving home, I realized that the problem is this: as long as I have time, I will think and re-think about the Christmas presents, and I will not be done until it is impossible to make any changes.

I feel like the student who is adding one last comma to my assignment, even as I am walking up to hand it in to the teacher.

I always found those students slightly annoying, even when I was one of them.

But this seems to be my life’s tradition.

Do you think it can be broken?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Elves on the Shelf


As many of you know, an elf arrived at our house this year, early in the Christmas season.

This little guy--my kids named him James--is the topic of A LOT of conversation amongst my children and their friends and cousins, and he is also now pretty much the central figure in our household.

When the kids wake up in the morning, the first thing they do is look for the elf (who moves at nighttime). If people come to visit, they are led to wherever James is sitting.

Ben, Janae, and Alaina show the elf their toys and tell him what they want for Christmas. Benjamin even gave James his Christmas list, trusting the elf--rather than the postal system--to get it to Santa.


This morning Janae asked me to "look for the elf." Since I knew he was on the counter, I made my way into the kitchen--only to find two more elves also sitting very still on the (very messy) shelf.


I think Janae might have a future in this industry.

Anyway, I guess all we can do now is wait and see what kind of report James makes for these three . . .


naughty or nice?