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Having kids has reignited the magic of the holidays for me. As a little girl I would get so excited to go to my grandparents' house, eat a lot of food, play with my cousins, and just enjoy the holidays. As an adult I can so easily start to stress out about the logistics of going from house to house to house (both mine and my husband's families live here in town, which includes celebrating with his parents and both my mom's and dad's families), making food, and making sure the kids stay somewhat on their schedule. Seeing the holiday's through the eyes of my children is so precious and is truly my favorite part.
The thing that bring me the most comfort and the most joy during the holiday season are traditions -those things that we do year after year and anticipate and are so excited about. We do some thing Eric did growing up, some things I did, and have added a few of our own things. When I think of the holidays I don't just think of Thanksgiving day or Christmas day, but of the whole season filled with family traditions.
I LOVE taking the kids to visit Santa! I love the classic Santa picture with a crying and/or upset baby. We've had one every year and I can't wait to see if they all love Santa this year or if we still have a hesitant participant.
I love Advent calendars. There were several years that my aunt would buy me one of the calendars that had a little window you open up and get a piece of chocolate each day (and, now I'm seeing a pattern. I think my favorite traditions are the ones that remind me of my childhood). I've already gotten a Trader Joe's calendar for each of the kids, but my favorite Advent calendar is a gorgeous vintage one from Eric's grandma. It is colorful and fun and total perfection.
Being thankful and giving back is so important to me. We have so, so much to be thankful for. This year we're starting a new tradition and will be walking a 5k together on Thanksgiving morning. This is something I have been wanting to do since the walk started a few years ago, but with the logistics of having babies and the kids' schedule it hasn't worked out. The walk is to raise money for a local food bank that provides meals daily for people who are going through difficult times. This is a new tradition for our family, but it's important to me to teach my children to remember others and to give. We're also participating in Operation Christmas Child and are making boxes to send to children in other countries.
Like I said, much of our holidays are usually spent rushing from house to house. In the last few years we've decided to spend Christmas morning at home. This way we have time to open presents, enjoy one another, and relax before the crazy starts. I cherish this time and I hope the kids look back on their childhood and remember this special quiet time.
At the time we lived in a little apartment (and drove an ugly Ford Taurus) and, for some reason, Eric though this tree would fit in our living room.
One of my favorite traditions is cutting down our Christmas tree. Every year we go the day after Thanksgiving and I love making a whole day of it- getting coffee before, cutting down the tree, and going out to lunch afterwards. Sometimes we go up into the mountains, a lot of times we go to a tree farm, and once, when I was nine months pregnant with Finley we went to the Costco parking lot. It just wasn't the same. This year we plan to get a tree permit and head about 45 minutes up the mountain. This is the same area that I went as a little girl with my mom's entire extended family. We'd bring thermoses of hot chocolate, cut down the trees, play in the snow, and stop at this totally hokey, but endearing mountain restaurant. I'm so excited to take the kids this year!
When we get home, I love turning on the Christmas music and decorating the tree together as a family. So fun!
There are so many other things I love about the holidays- wrapping presents on Christmas Eve, decorating sugar cookies, shopping for family, reading the original Christmas story from the Bible, sharing what we're thankful for after the turkey dinner, going Christmas caroling (although, it's been awhile since I've done that), decorating the house and making crafts with the kids, my grandma's homemade pumpkin and pecan pies.... I must admit, thinking of all of these activities is making me so anxious for the holidays!
What are your favorite things about the holiday season?