Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye Christmas, Hello 2016

We are one week post Christmas Eve.  Things are settling down.  Tomorrow all the decorations will go back in the crawl space (not gonna lie I would have taken the tree down days ago but am making myself wait until New Years Day for the kids).  Our Christmas was happy.  Our Christmas was sad.  A beautiful blend of magic and traditions along with loss and a funeral.  On Christmas Eve my lovely grandma passed away.  She was my favorite grandma.  The one whose house we loved going to when we were little because it was full of toys and trinkets.  She was a die hard thrift store shopper so there were always treasures to be found at her house.  She was the one who was at all the birthday parties of my childhood,  at the hospital to welcome my babies and could always make you smile. She was an amazing woman and I am so proud to be her granddaughter.  As we gathered with cousins, aunts, uncles and friends to say goodbye and share memories you could see how many lives she touched.  She was the one who always brought us all together and this Christmas she finally got us in the same place again.  She would have been so happy to see this and I know in a way, she did.  After all the tears we sat around in a cheesy pizza joint laughing and sharing in the common love of family.  A beautiful celebration of her wonderful life.  

Even with loss, life goes on as usual.  Christmas was my grandma's favorite time of year so she wouldn't have wanted us to be sad throughout it.  She would want us to live it up so we made sure to do that.  In our house things begin on Christmas Eve with Matt's parents. A full Lebanese dinner and then gifts...

Feeling extra sentimental about grandparents this year and happy that the girls are fortunate to have four wonderful ones.  

Later that evening before going to bed, we spread reindeer food in the driveway and put cookies out in anticipation of Santa's arrival...

Oh, how I remember the excitement of going to bed on Christmas Eve...knowing something magical was about to happen.  Waking the next morning unable to even contain my excitement to see what Santa brought.  We are right on the edge of the girls still believing and each year I am grateful for their innocence.  Their energy is contagious and makes Christmas morning such fun.
Santa brought the girls an avocado plant from Mexico.  They were pretty excited since they have been trying unsuccessfully to grow one.  Silly guy even put big avocados in the bottom of their stockings.  

My favorite part of the day was how the girls were just as excited, if not more, to give us our gifts.  I love that we have instilled the importance of giving in them.  To see the thoughtfulness and time they put into making these gifts.  

Ava made me prayer flags for my mediation area.  Seriously.  Best gift I got.  She is the coolest chick.

The celebrating continued as we made our way over the river and through the woods to my parents house.  To gather with all the cousins and my sisters.  To sit under the tree where I have spent every Christmas and watch my dad play Santa Claus and hand out gifts to everyone there.

Not a Christmas has gone by that my sisters and I haven't all been at my parents house exchanging gifts.  It has changed and the family has grown over the years, but we are always there.  This year with one sister traveling from out of town and the other getting ready to leave town it was a quick hour we were all there.  What a wonderful hour it was.  

We went home Christmas evening exhausted from the days festivities.  I crawled into bed feeling happy and content from a beautiful holiday.

Now it is New Year's Eve.  The last day of 2015.  I love a new year, a fresh start.  I don't think about it as making resolutions that will only last a couple weeks.  I like to think of it as an opportunity to reflect on the past year and to set intentions for the new one.  I like the idea of intentions rather than resolutions.  I will write all of mine down in my journal because I don't think they need to be shared here.  By writing them down I feel like I will be more committed to them.  They will help start 2016 to be the best year.  I love the feelings a new year brings.  As the Christmas decorations come down tomorrow, life will calm and settle into a slow winter routine.  A time to reflect on the intentions made.  I love January for this.  

And, because it means a brand new day planner needs to be bought.  Matt reminded me I could just use the planner on my phone, but I'm old school.  I get all nerdy about day planners and can't wait to pick out the perfect one for 2016.

Happy New Year friends.  I hope it's the best yet.  

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tis the Season.

We are settling quite nicely into one of my favorite times of the year.  The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, the halls have been decked with boughs and holly and Jack Frost has been nipping at my nose.  Well, not really that last one, it's actually been quite mild for December.  But, the rest?  The rest is all true...we are in the middle of the most wonderful time of the year.

There are so many things I love about the holidays.  I'm a traditions girl and this time of year is all about that.  Traditions we've created over the years for our family that we look forward to each year.  Making memories I hold close to my heart.  For me it is about these special moments we have together.  Some people get frantic this time of year.  It certainly is easy to get caught up in the chaos...you can feel it in the stores, you can sense it from those around you trying to cram it all in, buy all the gifts, get to all the parties.  When I feel myself getting lost in it, I take a breath and focus on my holiday mantra...keep it simple and remember what it really means to us.  The memory making, the traditions....

Getting our Christmas Tree

Except for a few years here and there we've always headed to the mountains to chop down our tree.  There were the years we didn't live in Montana so it simply wasn't possible, the years when the babies were too little to trek out to the mountains and the one year we decided it would be easier to go to a local farm and pay to cut one of their trees.  After that $75 mistake we vowed we  would only go to the mountains and pay the five dollar permit to get our trees.  Hyalite Canyon is generally our choice and this year the day was perfect.  Bright blue skies, warm sun, fresh snow and numerous perfect-for-a-mountain-tree trees.  Throw in some sledding and hot cocoa and what we have here is a perfect tradition for the memory bank.
Once we have our tree we put it up in the garage for a week and let it thaw out a bit.  This is because I like to spread the traditions out throughout the season.  We can't get the tree and decorate it on the same day.  No, no, no.  We add to the anticipation by waiting until the next weekend.  Then it's time to deck the halls.

Decorations
The Christmas station on Pandora gets worn out the day we decorate the tree.  There really are only a handful of songs that are played over and over by various artists in various versions.  Some find that annoying, I find it part of the charm.  And the best because then you totally know all the words for singing.  Anyways...the tubs of decorations come out and the girls and I get busy while Matt observes and throws on the occasional ornament.  The girls start putting things in crazy places and I try to stay calm and remember having it look like Christmas threw up all over my living room is part of the fun. Years from now I can have all the decorations be in what I consider the right place and I can cut out half of the snowmen that need to be put on the mantle.  For now I want to see it from their carefree eyes.

Festivities
From the Christmas Stroll to the Nutcracker to school holiday programs to office parties.  December is full, but it is the good kind.  The kind that is perfectly balanced with lazy weekends.  It means one night we get dressed up, leave the girls with grandma and drink wine late into the night with friends and the next we stay in pajamas and all snuggle on the couch watching Miracle on 34th Street.  It means rather than going to every event that goes on this month, we pick the ones we love the most and say no thanks to the rest.  The ones we never miss are watching Santa light the downtown decorations and hot cocoa at the Stroll. 

Cookies
Baking and decorating cookies has been a tradition I've done with my mom and sisters long before we had kids.  It is one I treasure even more now that I get to have them be a part of it.  Cousins, sprinkles, frosting, sugar, laughter, more sprinkles pretty much sums it up.
This year the kids made gingerbread houses.  They worked on them for hours.  Each kid had dreamed up such a different idea and I was  impressed with how they turned out.  This crew is something else.  

There is more to come.  A couple more weeks to squeeze in more memories.  Driving around to check out Christmas lights, making reindeer food, wrapping presents and more holiday movies to be watched.  There is family to be with and old friends coming to town.  There are cookies and notes to be left for Santa and as Ava says "the magic feeling of waking up on Christmas morning".  These are the things I want them to take from the holidays...the magical feeling of the season.  The family time, the love, the traditions.