Friday, January 11, 2013

Let It Echo Across the Land: Christmas 2012

Well, I'm finally sharing our Christmas celebrations. Usually I split it up, but I have so many post I want to write, I'm just going to combine it all in one. Peyton was off for a full week around Christmas. Honestly, I don't think he's had that many days off in a row since AP was born. We went on two short trips, spent a ton of time with our families, and had some special time for just our little family of four. It was a really special time and I'm so thankful for the way it turned out. It was the perfect mix of activity and relaxation, celebration and rest.

Christmas was on Tuesday and we started celebrating the Saturday before. We had wanted to do Christmas differently this year and it worked really well. Overall, we had three goals:
1. minimal gifts
2. no Santa
3. no presents on Christmas morning

Truly, we don't make broad judgements about these things- none of it is a hardcore right/wrong type thing. But Peyton and I (let's be honest, moreso Peyton) have been convicted about it all. We just wanted a simple, focused Christmas. If I'm being truthful, it was hard in one way. In one way the simplicity was so, so nice and really refreshing. And I have to say, there was no less magic there than the Christmases when I was little. I think part of it has to be with growing up and just being the adult. But part of it is that this was the first year that we didn't spend the night on Christmas Eve at my parents' house. It was literally the first Christmas in twenty seven years that I haven't woken up in the same house as my parents and sister. And that was hard. It worked out best for a variety of reasons (you'll see), but it was a struggle letting go of that. All that aside, I think it was as close to perfect as it could be and I really am happy we're creating our own traditions.

Anyway, the Saturday before Christmas we were headed out of town to attend and engagement party for a friend of Peytons, but we spent the morning doing our presents for the kids. My parents and Cookie came over, so that was extra fun!

Here's the whole spread. It's way, way less than we've done in previous years. Lemme be real honest- I was so thankful not to have to find places for a bunch of stuff. It was so nice not to have to worry about completely restructuring our small-ish house to accommodate boat loads of plastic toddler crap.

The kids "big" shared present was a dollhouse we got in Charleston when Ann Peyton was three months old (I think it was $40 and included the furniture). In some weird stroke of luck, Annie decided a few weeks before Christmas to start telling us she wanted a dollhouse. I really didn't think she'd have any specific requests because she had been so ambivalent until then. I also think she would have been completely fine with something different, but it really worked out nicely that the first thing she's ever specifically asked for was something we'd been saving in our attic for three years and had discussed at length how this was the year to give it to her. She loves it. Graves loves it, too. I'm so not into gender roles for a one year old. I like that it's really neutral and kind of whimsical and not just over-the-top girly and gawdy. I'd either want this or something super classic. I also love that it's relatively small- both the kids are obsessed with Little People, so they've become the natural inhabitants.

Graves got a Little People firetruck Peyton found on eBay, some tiny Sesame Street board books, three awesome light up balls, and a puzzle that's I thought was cute and will be good for him to just play with as building blocks for awhile.  He also got some Little People space people.

Annie got a dress up costume that she adores and one of those little magnetic dolls. She already has a princess one and plays with it alot and I had this one in the attic and thought it was cute. We also gave her a big puzzle set because it was in the attic in the box of "buy ahead" presents. We both agreed we had missed the boat on this one, but maybe she and Graves would play with them together? I ended up asking her point blank before she tore into them what she thought of them and her answer inferred she was not impressed. I scooped them up and put them with our gifts we have set aside for other people. I'll just save them for the next one or two year old girl birthday party we go to! Lastly, she got Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Little People. Probably her favorite thing next to the dollhouse.

We had the best time just enjoying watching the kids enjoy their simple gifts.

Our annual coordinating pjs picture...
I didn't love this year's selection. I just didn't. But I'm past obsessing over it. Last year's was SO cute. Some years will be. Some won't. I loved the kids' pjs (they have bears on them), and that's what I care most about. Mine and Peyton's kind of sucked. But you know what? Most parents don't even try to coordinate their jams. So there.

We headed to Florence for the party that evening. The trip consisted of some fun visiting with friends, some sleepless late night/wee morning hours, and some unique toddler dining set-ups. It was an adventure!

We left to come home on Sunday and immedietly upon getting into town headed to my parents' house so we could make the most of the time Cookie was here. 

Monday was Christmas Eve and we spent almost the entire day with my family. We had a nice steak dinner before we headed to church for our candlelight service and my parents and Cookie gave the kids their presents (and we got ours). 
  Cookie got Annie one of those books that you can record your voice reading. It's all about what makes a princess and talks about their good qualities- kindness, courage, ect. It was PERFECT.
My mom got theme several fun happies and she also made them each a fleece blanket (Annie's is princesses and Graves's is Charlie Brown). 

Christmas morning was special. We spent it just the four of us. We wanted to have some fun, non-present activities for the kids, but I wanted it to be super simple and relaxed. I think we nailed it! 

We started off with a scavenger hunt to find Baby Jesus...
I really think she had just as much fun as she would have had opening presents! I was so pleased with how it turned out. 

After the hunt, we had a big breakfast for the baby King. 
This was really fun and special, too, and it's a tradition we plan to keep for sure! 

We stopped by my parents' house for a bit to see Cookie off (as I said it worked out best we hadn't stayed over there- she had her huge dog and her and Daddy were loading a NOT WATERPROOF U-Haul in the pouring rain). After that, we came home and regrouped and then headed over the the Herrington's and spent most of the afternoon/evening there. 

When we got home, we did our last Christmas activity for the day- we let Annie pick gifts from the World Vision site to give. She chose to give mosquito nets, clean water, and a load for three women, based on pictures and the descriptions we read her. She also picked out a child to sponsor, a five year old girl who she refers to as her "pen pal". She told me the other day that Cinderella got a bug net for Christmas and that it would "protect her from bugs that could hurt her". It'll be interesting to watch her process the difference between an imaginary friend and a sponsored child. Annie and Peyton also did some baking for the next day's events.

 It's tradition in Peyton's family to spend the 26th at Granny's so we headed down the day after Christmas. We had an excellent lunch (gumbo!) and the kids had a blast with their cousins!

It was so nice to have Peyton around so much and like I said, we found a good balance of spending time with just us and spending time with friends and extended family; of giving the kids gifts, but not giving an excess of them; of enjoying celebration and rest. It was such a good Christmas and I'm so blessed by my sweet family and of course by the kingdom that is at hand. More and more these days I seem to feel that kingdom existing in the here and now all around me. Praise Him!


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