Re-caps of the season:
The decorations. This Santa was given to me by my Grandma when they downsized last year. As a little girl, Christmas Eve was always magic at my grandma's house. Having some of her decorations in my own home seems to bring some of that magic here. The Santa moves as if it is painting the doll in front of it. Kiwi was fascinated by this and kept looking at it. The first day it was up she kept asking, "What is Santa doing? Who is he painting that yittle doll for? A yittle girl? Maybe me?"
This ginormous candy cane was from a Christmas fun run which Mike and I ran in with my little brother a couple of weeks before Christmas. It was my first 5K since having Mason and it felt good (slow, but good).
Decorating the tree. Our tree is a hodge podge of different ornaments from Mike and I's childhood and ornaments the kids have made and received over their few years. It does not match and there are places crowded with ornaments at kid level, but I love it. Every ornament has a story, which makes decorating it even more special.
Decorating sugar cookies. Kiwi is part of a play group of little girls that meet once a week at alternating houses. I told the kids we could have a Christmas play group. The plan was for Little Man, Kiwi, and I to make all the sugar cookie shapes the night before and then the girls, Little Man and one of Little Man's friends would decorate them the next day. Mike was coming home late and I thought it would be a perfect evening activity for us. It started with me all excited to create a special memory for my kids, but one failed batch of dough (it wouldn't stick together), a new recipe, what seemed like a hundred shapes, an explosion of flour, a baby crying, a pre-schooler melting down, six sticky floury hands, and a half an hour past bedtime later, I was just trying to survive this "fun" activity. The kids enjoyed decorating them the next day though.
Our ward Christmas party. The them was Christmas in Whoville and it was really cute with a delicious breakfast. The activities committee did a great job planning it and we really enjoyed ourselves.Below are some shots from a photo shoot I tried to do with my kids in their Christmas outfits.
Other highlights included going to see Santa (picture is on Mike's phone and I need to get it off), having the big kids do extra jobs to earn money for family members' gifts and then taking them to the dollar store to pick out their presents, and filling a tiny manager with hay for Baby Jesus. Each week we picked a different family members name to do nice things for and every time you did a nice thing you could put a piece of hay into the manager. We didn't always remember to put in the hay, but I did notice a change as we made that extra effort to serve each other. The first week Little Man and Kiwi chose each other and it was so fun to watch them clearing each other's plates and lining up one another's stuffed animals on their beds.
And just because I don't want to forget...
One night as I was leaving their room I overheard Kiwi saying her prayers. As she rattled off a long list of thankfuls (family, friends, toys) I heard her say "and thank you for prophets and elves..."
And there we go. We packed away the decorations to the sound of Christmas music per Little Man's request to listen to it "one last time" (that's a boy after my own heart, that one). The tree in the back yard waiting for yard waste day, and the vacuum full of pine needles. Mike went back to work after almost two weeks off yesterday. I am now done playing catch up on the blog about it. We are back to alarm clocks, routines, and just every day life. And I'm ready. Because it's all about balance. We wouldn't enjoy the vacation, if it wasn't for the ordinary and business of every day life. So I know it's time to pack away "holiday mode," but I hope to not pack away the feeling. I know it sounds cliche, but really imagine if people could be as friendly, giving, forgiving as seems to occur at Christmas all year long.