Through it all my very favorite moment is Christmas morning. It always has been. When I was young it was waking up way too early with my sisters, sneaking peaks at the fat stockings under the tree, trying to wait patiently for my parents to say we could dig in. Now, still waking early in anticipation of the girls excitement. Teasing them by dragging out the process of heading to the living room to see what Santa left. Seeing their smiles as they read the note left by him, overjoyed that he mentioned they were on the extra-nice list...
Finally letting them start on stockings and gifts. Feeling so proud that they are just as excited to give their handmade gifts to us and each other as they are to open their own. Taking our time moving through each present until the tree is empty and the living room is a mess of paper, ribbons and new toys.
Leading up to this moment are so many traditions that make me happy. A few of my favorites...
Annual Cookie Party
This started many years ago, long before I had the girls. I would get together with my sisters and mom and we would bake cookies and everyone would take home an assortment. Baking during the holidays is the coziest thing and doing it with the ladies in my family adds to this. Now it has grown and the kiddos all get in on the fun. By the end it's a mess of red and green sprinkles, faces covered in frosting and some very bright sugar cookies. The last couple of years, I've added a reindeer food buffet to the cookie party. I found this idea on another blog I read and love it. We set up reindeer food...oats, cocoa, peppermint sprinkles, magic flying powder...and the kids fill bags with an assortment of this to be scattered in the driveway on Christmas Eve.
We used to include glitter to add some sparkle but found that glitter never leaves the driveway. I don't think the reindeer miss it.
Oh, how I love the girls holiday program at their school. There's something so very parenty about it (yep, I totally made that word up. It means doing something that suddenly makes you realize you are a grown up with real children. That you made.) Sitting in the audience with all the other parents proudly watching your child sing. My eyes tearing up every year. Feeling so happy to be one of the parents in the crowd. It's weird, but I get such a feeling of contentment at these things. Like life worked out just exactly as I wanted it to.
New and Old Traditions with all the Family.
Our main Christmas celebration is the morning one with our girls. But, I love extending the celebration with each of our families. Things have evolved into great celebrations with each. Christmas Eve with Matt's parents...choosing to eat out instead of cooking so we can get around to the business of gifts faster. Going downtown and feeling festive as we leave the restaurant and see giant snowflakes swirling above the decorations...
Continuing with old traditions with my family...my mom giving us all PJ's to wear on Christmas and staying in them all day long. The chaos of 9 adults and 10 children filling their living room for dinner and presents. So happy for this one time of the year all the cousins are together...
Driving home afterwards feeling wonderfully exhausted from the past 24 hours. Waking up the next day and trying to sort through everything while the girls jump from one activity to the next, trying to play with all their new things.
I love getting the girls for two full weeks. I try to work a little less and fill our days with Christmas movies, sledding and hot cocoa. Each year during their break we try to squeeze in a day trip to Chico Hot Springs. This year when we ventured over it was a perfectly quiet day and we swam for hours.
Ice skating is always on our winter break list as well. It's generally the first opportunity to hit the rinks and like riding a bike, the girls pick it right back up each year.
Now we settle into the quieter week of the break. There are less obligations. Things will slow down. We will squeeze in more cousin time before everyone gets busy once back into the school year. We will soak up carefree days without schedules or homework. The tree will come down along with the Christmas cards and decorations. I never feel sad about this. The month it is up is just the right amount of time to enjoy it without getting sick of it. We will wrap up 2014 with gratitude of what the year brought us and get ready to welcome a new one. It will be good.
Enjoy the last few days of this year. I hope your Christmas was Merry.