Thursday, December 5, 2013

It Will Be Christmas

We're decking the halls...bringing out the lights and wreathes, the handmade elf (on it's way to becoming a family heirloom) the snow globes and the ornaments of all shapes and sizes and glittery color - but more importantly we are preparing our hearts for the birth of our Precious Savior and what the gift of His life truly means for us....

Last year my Grandma Grace sent us her lovely nativity scene so it is our new tradition to first unwrap all of the delicate pieces...each one like a present all their own...and then we talk about what it would have been like that dark night so long ago...was it windy and cold or warm and balmy? Was the sky sparkling with diamond like stars or was it calm and quiet and dark .... if you listened closely could anyone hear the angels singing to the shepherds or was the choir song only for their ears? 
Christmas ... what a beautiful nostalgic time of the year. 

 “Christmas can be celebrated in the school room with pine trees, tinsel and reindeers, but there must be no mention of the man whose birthday is being celebrated. One wonders how a teacher would answer if a student asked why it was called Christmas.” 
― Ronald Reagan

We made the decision last year, when funds were quite tight, that we would use an artificial tree for the first time. I do miss going to the Christmas tree farm and finding the oh-so-perfect fir for our house, the cold noses and the mitten hands and the smell of earth in our house. But...thinking on the positives...this year I didn't have to pay for a tree at all, there is no mess to clean up...I don't have to try and wrangle 8 gloves on  8 little hands (that's a task in itself)... and the tree is still "tree like" in spirit although deep inside, I'm sure he knows he's a fake. 
The kids drank their customary cup of hot cocoa while the daddy figure twisted on the lights :)

Such a good man. This year we have been so blessed with extra work for Zac. He has worked a couple of side jobs stringing lights on rather large houses...with rather high roofs...risking life and limb ...for a rather pretty penny. We are blessed - the extra work has made it possible to give Brady a pretty special birthday gift in the next couple of weeks, paid for our Christmas and someone else's...God always shows His love for our family in such unexpected ways.

I gave each child their ornament for the year - they were elated and I was pleased with myself. I write the date and their names on the bottom of each ornament in hopes that when they are older they can take their own box of ornaments with them to their own homes. It's a sweet tradition and it's always fun picking out an ornament that represents their year or their personality. 

 “Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.” 
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

Since Trinity got to top the tree last year...Brady called "dibs" on the honor a few weeks ago ... he didn't forget. He said it would be Tristan's turn next year, then Finn's...and around and around we go until his turn again in the year 2017. 

I love trees that have themes or are color coordinated - but the more time that passes my favorite trees have become the ones that my kids decorate...the bunched up ornaments, the felt dinosaurs and the soccer balls and teddy bears, the bells and snow balls and all of the "baby's first Christmas" I have been given. After the kids are in bed at night and it's just me and the sparkling tree and a cup of tea, I look at the ornaments and smile and think of their little chubby hands running to the tree and almost throwing on all of the sparkle..hurrying to find out what the next ornament coming out of the box will be. I love the joy and delight and just thinking of it in the evenings makes me EVERY ...SINGLE...NIGHT! I just love my littles and this time of year. I didn't even have the heart to rearrange the tree....much. 

And then, as if Mother Nature knew that our tree was up...she brought in 8 inches or so of snow. So, we have been crafting and crafting and drinking cup of tea after cup of tea...cheese toast and apple slices...listening to Christmas Carols and wrapping gifts for others (some for ourselves. ) Trinity and I made little paper gingerbread men sprinkled with cinnamon...a fun cheap craft that we can hang from twine around our windows. 

We also dipped hands in paint, laid them flat on a paper...and then once the hand was dry each child was able to decorate their own "squad" of snowmen. I had some fake snow that they glued to the bottom of the paper...once again...a cheap craft that kids love. You can also do this idea on an ornament but it's a little bit trickier.

The stockings are hung ...I am loving Trinity's presents that she put under the tree. She spent about a hour in her room and came out with notebook and masking taped gifts for all ...I'm assuming little trinkets from her room? I love her giving spirit - not just during Christmas but all year long. Zac also loves to give gifts...there are a couple of cabinets in our house that are off limits to myself - my stocking is almost always stuffed beyond capacity. I've been known to give him a hard time about this in the past with "that's not in the budget" and "lets keep it simple and send money to homeless kids."
He says "yes" to sending the homeless kids money but "no" to my wanting him to not spend money on me. He likes to spoil me ... and i'm fine with that. Hey, someones gotta take care of me...might as well be a hunk. No complaints here. Make me a bath while you're at it.
 In case you are wondering, the giant star that you see is a paper star that I actually hung in that corner sometime ago...but I kept it there thinking it would just look like a reflection of the smaller star in front.

And what would be a snowy day without some sweet treat of sorts? I had some organic frozen peaches from Costco in the freezer so I mixed the kids up a cobbler...cinnamon oat goodness. 

Finn helped himself. And yes...I did try to dress him several times. He prefers to be "free." 

We made ornaments...which obviously requires great concentration and the tip of your tongue to be sticking if it centers your mind or your balance or something special like that. 

Luigi learning to cook - working on those "life skills."

 “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!” 
― Dr. SeussHow the Grinch Stole Christmas!

 Here are our ornaments, catching some sun. I think they turned out cute, colorful , and childlike which is exactly what I was after. I think ornament making will have to be put on the "tradition" list...but next year we will need to start earlier so we can actually use them as gifts to others.

 It's still snowy outside but we are warm inside, waiting for our hero to come home (aka husband, father) and give us word of the outside world :)  I think he has a special surprise in store for the two older kids so I will stay in while Finn naps and sip tea and admire my tea (okay okay...and maybe fold some laundry while I'm admiring....) and I will think on my gifts that God gives to me everyday with my heath, my wealth, my little loves...a warm home with luxuries like heat and pots and pans, a cabinet of food, slippers and sweaters and black olives and soap and even paper towels when I'm not being "green" ... and I will thank Him for His Son and will try to not take my blessings for granted. 

“And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans--and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused--and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.” 
― Sigrid Undset