Friday, January 13, 2012

A Christmas To Remember

This Christmas will definitely go down as one of the best, as well as the most memorable. This year, Andy and I had a plan to talk with our kids and let them know that Christmas would be a lot of homemade, rather than material, things. It would be small, because of our current financial situation. Even though that is just fine, and I knew our kids might be a little disappointed if they didn't get exactly what they had asked for from Santa, that's not really the way it turned out.

Our kids are allowed to ask for one thing from Santa every year. I have always felt that Christmas is about Christ's birthday, and giving to and helping others. Of course, they get a few things from mom and dad (usually clothes.... boring!), and grandparents and such, but I don't feel like we go overboard for our kids on Christmas. That's what their birthdays are for :) Andy and I spoke to the kids the night they were writing their letters to Santa. We reminded them not to be greedy, and to only ask for the thing they wanted more than anything else. After getting their letters back, we had a little discussion about what we thought we could afford. Laylah wanted a bed for her American Girl doll. Jonah wanted a new game for his DS. Daphne, a bitty-baby doll by American Girl. And Bear.... play-doh. We thought it would be do-able, but the closer Christmas came, our finances just weren't working in our favor. Andy had only been working at his new job for a couple of weeks, and wasn't scheduled for his first paycheck until December 23rd. That means we would go nearly a month without un-employment pay or a paycheck. Yikes. We were a little worried.

And then the blessings started coming, one by one. It started off with a phone call from someone very special to me. She asked what my kids wanted from Santa, and I told her, but I also told her I wasn't sure how it would happen. She told me not to worry about it, not to argue, and that it would be taken care of. I cannot tell you the load that seemed to lift off of my shoulders. Here's the thing. Although I know my kids would be fine with whatever they received for Christmas, you always want to give your kids exactly what they want, right? You want them to be happy, to not ever have to experience any sort of disappointment. This is unrealistic, to think you can always shelter them through life this way, but it doesn't make me feel it any less so. A little later in the month, we received some gift cards from an annonymous giver. A few days after that, a couple of checks came in the mail. And then a large package with gifts for my children, as well as more gift cards. I cannot even explain how grateful and loved we felt. It was like these little miracles all month long, that just kept coming. As I sit here typing this, I can't keep the tears from coming. It just confirms what I know to be true, that our Heavenly Father knows each of us personally, knows our circumstances, knows what we need, loves us beyond measure, and works through others to help us. It was the most amazing Christmas, and I cannot wait until we can be on the other end again, giving, and donating, and helping.

So, that's why this Christmas was just so wonderful. Just about every gift was from someone's heart, and it made my children happy. It made me happy. And if it was anyone reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It meant everything to me, and I thank you.

Now, onto our fun celebrations! We spent Christmas Eve at Andy's cousin's house (his aunt and uncle were visiting as well) who has a tradition of a Christmas Eve Fiesta! The food was incredible. I brought homemade Brazilian lemonade and guacamole and chips. Meghan (mine and Andy's cousin-in-law. Dan, Andy's cousin, is deployed to Afghanistan right now. We missed him a lot!) made homemade Spanish rice, salsa, enchiladas, taquitos, and tamales. It was quite a feast, and we were all stuffed silly. The kids went to watch a Christmas movie afterwards, and the adults just chatted, grazed some more, and cleaned up.

We took the kids home after the movie and did our usual little traditions. We put out Santa's cookies and milk, opened one gift (jammies), and threw reindeer food out on our back lawn. We read Luke 2, checked online to see where Santa was delivering (Central America!), had hugs and kisses, and sent the kids off to bed to dream of sugar plums dancing, and all of that fun stuff.

Magnus didn't make it home awake. But we still made him open his new pj's.

Christmas is just so exciting!! I caught them doing this.... completely un-prompted :)

New jammies!!

We made this reindeer food as one of our advent activities. It was Laylah's idea to write "Do not use until December 24th!" because we sure didn't want those reindeer coming too early!

After the kids were off to bed, Santa came. And he was so good to us. He realized just how much the kids missed their trampoline (do you remember THIS post??) that he had gotten them about 4 or 5 Christmas' before, and had found a really great used one. So, he decided to set it up in our backyard. Only, it's really hard to do in the dark. And he kind of did it wrong, but couldn't figure out how. And it took a long time. And he was really worried the whole time that some neighbor kid would see him. Or, even worse, one of the Collette kids would hear him and peek out their windows and see him. And it ended up being really funny. So, in the end, he was really tired and just left a note saying that he thought that the kids' dad would be able to fix it in the morning. And guess what? He did :)
The kids came barreling into our room and jumped on our bed at about 6:45 AM. They were so excited. It made me so excited. I figured I had better really enjoy this year, because Laylah has been asking some questions lately, and although she still believed this year, I'm not sure how much longer that is going to last. So I took full advantage and made a big production out of everything. It was great.

The stockings were filled to the brim, the gifts from Santa were bright and white, and so pretty with their big red bows. We had explained to the children that they could open their stockings and Santa gifts, and then we would eat our breakfast feast. After that, we would have to get ready for church that started at 11. After we got home from church, we would be able to finish opening gifts.

Opening stockings! Stockings are truly one of my favorite things about Christmas. It's so exciting to see what wonderful treasures are hidden deep down in that sock. My kids' included movies, treats, little toys and games, books, webkinz, art supplies, and a few other odds and ends.

Andy's had this awesome beanie in it. I love a man with facial hair. And since my man refuses to grow any, this is the next best thing...

We had to wake Magnus, who just loved wandering around with his new lion hat, and his candy-filled plastic candy-cane.
Next, it was onto gifts from Santa! M received a fun little Weebles toy. It play music and cranks the Weebles to the top of the treehouse so they can slide down the treehouse slide. It was a huge hit.Bear loves the Imaginext brand. He got this fun castle, and simply loves it. (Oh, and don't worry. He also got the play-doh he had asked for. It came in his stocking :)

Next up, Daphne. She received the gift of her dreams that she's been talking about for 7 months, the bitty-baby doll! When she started opening it, as soon as she saw the American Girl label, she couldn't get that baby out of the box fast enough. She literally has not gone a day since, without playing with Bella Ella (what a name, right?)

Jonah received his beloved DS game, Mario VS. Donkey Kong! And even though it was Sunday, and we don't allow video games on Sunday, it was also Christmas. So he proceeded to play it the rest of the day :)

Laylah didn't quite receive what she had asked for. If you recall, she wanted a bed for her American Girl doll, but I had it on good authority that her great grandmother was getting that for her. So, Santa got her something he knew she'd been wanting for a long time. A real camera. And not just any camera. A real purple camera. She was thrilled. After everyone had opened their gifts from Santa, there was still one white wrapped gift with a red ribbon. Our family gift from Santa. Santa always gives our family a gift that will help bring us together, something we can do together and something that helps us have fun together.

It was a letter, telling us to look outside and also explaining that we needed to be careful with this one so as not to break it like we did our last one. The kids practically leaped off the couch to run onto the deck and see what it was. And I cannot even tell you how excited they were to have a trampoline again. Pure joy.
(This picture is not from Christmas, but the day after when Andy had fixed what silly Santa had done to the tramp. The kids spent all week and hours upon hours jumping outside on their new tramp during their winter break. Good thing the temps were in the 60's!)

After gifts, we had our breakfast feast of baked french toast, bacon, and eggs with sausage and cheese. Along with it, there was orange juice, hot cocoa with whipped cream, anf fresh fruit. Delish.

I allowed the kids to open one more gift before getting ready for church. It was their new Christmas church outfits (dresses for the girls, bowties for the boys), made by hand by the amazing Miranda. We swapped services, and I have to say that I got the better end of the deal, because she is just so incredibly talented. (Pictures of their new clothes are at the bottom of the post)

After we got ready, we headed off to church. Our sacrement service was so wonderful, and the music was so beautiful. I remember just sitting there and feeling so happy. It was such a wonderful day, thinking of the Savior and His birth. I remember thinking over and over again about how very blessed we are. It's so nice to recognize that.

After church, we headed home, and some of us changed our clothes. It was just a nice, lazy, relaxing rest of the day. I made a big turkey dinner with all of the trimmings, and after I got the turkey in the oven, we started opening gifts again. We would let each of the kids open one, and we would let them play with that for awhile, and then they would open another one. It took hours, but it was so relaxing, and enjoyable. I loved that we didn't have anywhere we had to be, we were just there together.
I made Andy a giftbox with my top 50 reasons why I love him. It was really fun to do, and once I got going, I could have gone on forever. Some of them are funny, some of them are physical (he seriously has the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen), and some of them are my favorite memories. He was really surprised, and loved it.

We also gave the kids a date coupon. They each got a coupon to go out to dinner and a movie (their choice) with Andy and me. They can use it whenever they want, but only one kid per date. I am really excited to get to spend more one-on-one time with my kids this year.
Here's Sadie sporting some glow-in-the-dark glasses that the kids got from one of their grandma's. She loved it, can't you tell?

And me, sporting my gift from Andy. My new cut and color. I finally cut off all of my post-baby hair after hemming and hawing about it for months. It was nasty. And also, new clothes from my mom. Doesn't she have great taste? She always gives the best gifts. I felt completely spoiled by her, like usual.

And finally, my darlings in their new Christmas church outfits. So adorable and so dapper. I can't even tell you how many compliments they received.

Family of {seven} ready for church

The rest of the day was spent playing, reading, napping, eating and watching movies. We had our yummy Christmas dinner and we were able to skype with both mine and Andy's families. It was wonderful.
And no Christmas would be complete without new pajamma pants from Grandma Collette. It's tradition!

The rest of our Christmas break was spent jumping on the tramp for hours upon hours, and playing. It was a much needed break from real life, and I was sad when it was over and work and school had to resume as normal. December was a month of miracles for our family, and I'm so happy that I had the experience and pleasure of sharing it.

Merry Merry to you!


Drea said...

What a fun Christmas!! Love this!

The Jubbs said...

I'm so glad Christmas went well for you guys! It's always good to feel how much people love you when you're down in the dumps! :) It made me sad to see the kids getting so big. I miss them! And I miss you guys too. I'm feeling more nostalgic this last week about missing my family! Hope we get to see you guys soon. Love ya!