Christmastime seemed like such a whirlwind this year in some ways – but looking back on the month I am also pleased that we took time to do a little planning a the beginning of the month ad carved out many days for seasonal work and fun with the kids. I think we all made many good memories together, and I am glad for that.
The first thing we did that really marked the beginning of the Christmas season for us was to find our Christmas tree. We always cut down our own, and this year was no different. Marian and Alan were very excited! They also got to pick out a ‘baby’ tree to put in their own room for a festive nightlight.
Alan got to carry their own little tree back to the pickup, which pleased him enormously.
One of our traditions is that we make our tree decorations each year from found items in our house and woods.
Over the next few days we slowly added ornaments and decorations to the tree, and got out our small bag of Christmas decorations that are saved year to year – stockings and a couple of lacy banners.
Our tree is always a bit different year to year, but this time our ornaments were – gold painted pine cones and sweet gum balls that the kids collected from the woods, paper snowflakes, dried orange slices, and small cinnamon dough ornaments the kids made themselves with my smallest cookie cutters. And of course, our favorite little copper wire twinkle lights.
During the weeks before Christmas, we had several days devoted to baking. Cranberry-shortbread cheesecake, Russian teacakes, peanut butter fudge, and of course, gingerbread.
The day we made the gingerbread was the kid’s favorite – I cut them each out a little gingerbread person – and they got to decorate them how they wanted. I told them they could either eat them right away or save them for Christmas day.
We made a small gingerbread house, and still had lots of dough and icing leftover for a batch of cookies!
The kids both decided to eat their gingerbread people right away – Alan with no regrets, but Marian ate the bottom half of her gingerbread girl, and then started to cry. (she was sad, because she decided she actually wanted to save it for Christmas day – so she saved the last half with the rest of the cookies!)
Our rather sad little gingerbread house. Some day I want to do some really fun, more elaborate houses, but for right now, with three little munchkins all ‘helping’ me, I am definitely keeping it simple!
Many days throughout the countdown to Christmas, either Jordan or I would read, or tell in our own words the history of the birth of King Jesus. I felt this was the first year Marian and Alan really grasped the reality and importance of the story – and really seemed to make a connection to why it is so important. They were quite fascinated by each facet of the people involved in the birth of Jesus. I think the shepherds may have been their favorite this year. It did me so much good to dwell on those first chapters of Matthew and Luke this December as well.
The tired crew of gingerbread bakers.
Another tradition we have created is to make a fun, full day in the big town a few days before Christmas. This gives us a chance to go to some fun shops, get any last minute items, shop for stocking goodies, and see Christmas lights when it gets dark.
This year we went to a couple of antique stores mostly just for the fun of looking! We love gathering ideas for things we want to make by looking at original examples.
After that we went to various grocery stores looking for maple sugar. (The kids LOVE having maple sugar candy in their stockings, and I had tried to order it online twice, and it was always out of stock from my usual place) Jordan and I took turns shopping/and staying in the car with the kids in one organic grocery store, buying surprise stocking edibles for each other and the kids. This gave the kids a chance to have a nap in the car, and just some quiet time.
The last thing to do (with eggnog and cookies in hand, of course) is to find a couple of fabulous neighborhoods and see some beautiful light displays while listening to Christmas carols! It was wonderful – and the kids actually stayed awake for it this year! haha.
Meanwhile back at the house, presents have been mysteriously accumulating under the tree. The poor packages looked pretty bedraggled by the time Christmas day finally arrived – the kids had stacked, carried, handled, and hid them so many times!
Christmas Eve! The kids were so elated when it finally arrived. This year it fell on a Sunday which meant we were at church most of the day enjoying a beautiful Christmas service, and fellowship of good friends. We didn’t make it home until early evening, and we immediately had to quickly begin preparing for our Christmas Eve traditions! I warmed up leftovers for supper, and made some eggnog that I put away to chill. We washed dishes, spiffed the house, got in firewood, and made everything comfy and cozy. When supper was eaten we gathered in the sitting room. The kids each get to open one present on Christmas Eve – this year they each got new comfy pajamas (I’d stayed up late getting everything finished the night before – and Jordan was such a dear, staying up with me until 2:30am to read out loud to me to make the work go faster!)
Marian was so pleased with her new soft pink cotton gown and robe trimmed with lace. (made from a thrifted women’s knit dress and matching jacket)
Alan got a soft flannel night shirt (made from a men’s flannel shirt) – that he really loved! I was afraid he would be less than thrilled to receive a clothing item (you know how boys are…) but he really seemed to love it! It helped that Marian was so excited about her new pj’s.
We could only get silly pictures that night! Everyone was too excited to be still!
Elsie also got a little matching gown, but she was so tired and frazzled we couldn’t get one good picture of her – and she soon went to bed.
After gifts had been opened, we snuggled down on the couch and watched ‘The Nativity Story’ and sipped eggnog. It’s become our tradition to watch this movie on Christmas Eve – it’s such a beautiful reminder and visual for the children.
Then it was time to tuck the little ones into bed – and time for Jordan and I to get to work! We were so tired, but had several things we needed to finish up. My ideal would be to have everything prepared ahead of time so that the days surround Christmas can be completely relaxed and unhurried. But this year we were put behind by a week of sickness, so another late night it was!
I finished sewing a princess dress for Marian, washed the rest of the dishes, finished house cleaning, and Jordan and I filled the stockings to bursting. By this time it was 1:00 am – we made a last cup of tea, Jordan loaded up the stove for the night and we headed off to bed.
Thankfully the kids slept in the next morning, so we all got a decent amount of sleep! We got the stove warmed up and then let them come down stairs.
They opened their stockings first – they were so thrilled with each little thing!
Next were presents, both from us, and ones they had picked for each other. (we don’t do Santa) Elsie was very excited because everyone else was excited! Marian and Alan were both enormously pleased and started right in with their imaginative games – their favorite things were knight, dragon, and princess figures. (some found on ebay) Hours and hours of storytelling games have already been gotten from them!
After that we ate a quick breakfast, and laid out goodies for company that was arriving at lunch time.
Marian and her best friend Ruby in their new dress up dresses!
We spent the rest of the day in feasting and fellowship – Merry Christmas!