Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Merry Little Christmas

Phew. The holidays always leave me feeling a bit like I just ran a marathon. Or gave birth. Or both.


It could be the fact that we go from one family event to the next for four days straight. Or it could be that we typically have company stay with us for a few days. Or that we have friends in town from all over the world whom we make every effort to spend quality time with. Or that we throw an annual Christmas party, inviting just about everyone we've ever gone to school with and beyond.

Even though all of the hustle and bustle still took place {minus the Christmas party - we settled for a very casual Wine Wednesday with a close group of friends since many would not be in town this year}, there wasn't a bit of frazzle in me this holiday season.

It only took 8 years of "Adult Christmases" {counting since I've gotten married} to finally get the hang of this whole holiday thing.

...to where I finally have the right mindset and have learned to not sweat the small stuff.

...to prep Christmas brunch the day before, instead of the morning of.

...to be in search of great sales for gifts year-round, rather than wait until Black Friday when everything from my "saved carts" gets emptied. Only to begin back at square one in figuring out what to gift people.

...to realistically accept the fact that we won't get to everything on our holiday bucket list.

...to be okay with a dollar limit and find more creative ways to give.

...to appreciate the fact that Gabe and I tend to give the gift of experiences over material things to one another.

...to eliminate stress {as much as possible} and to embrace the sentiment of the holidays.

...to stop creating memories, and let the memories create themselves.

That's right. Memories create themselves. Who knew?

I just can't help it. I'm a sucker for sentiment. I love all things that generate something special to look back on. And I especially like to capture those memories so I can go back and remember, relive even.

But I think I can, at times, get obsessed with sentiment. And quite possibly even try to create it. And when you try to create what's pictured in your mind as perfect memories with children, it more often then not backfires. Because children, if you haven't heard, are unpredictable. Especially during the overstimulating blur of the holidays.

So, I guess after a lot of practice and self-motivating talks, I've simply learned to plan ahead for the details that can cause stress if left until the last minute. And I've also learned to let memory-making details unfold naturally.

I've also tried my best to avoid stress and embrace simple. Not that we didn't do gifts or introduce Santa or decide last-minute the week before to sand/paint/and put together a new play room for the kids. Ha! I guess embracing simple, for me, was more of a mental shift. To focus on what really matters.

And let me tell you. It may have been simpler than years past, but this was the best Christmas I can remember. {Next to the Christmas where I woke up to find Malibu Ken, a set of Pound Puppies, and a pair of "high heels" under the tree, of course}.

This year sort of felt like a first. Maybe because it was Adaline's first Christmas. But also because Lyla was just so excited and really got into the holiday spirit. She couldn't wait to wake up Christmas morning to see if Santa did in fact put "lunch" under the Christmas tree like she asked.

We hear it over and over again, but it's just so true. Experiencing the holidays through your child's eyes is even better than when you were a child yourself.

And this year was so wonderfully special.

Even though Gabe and I didn't account for the fact that Lyla and Adaline's kitchen would take 4 hours to put together. Or that Miss A blew out her sister-coordinating Christmas jammies first thing when she woke up Christmas morning...and I didn't get a single picture of her in them. Or that Lyla wanted to open every single present's plastic packaging instead of opening the remaining presents under the tree. Or that we forgot to buy coffee for Christmas brunch, and so we had to use my stocking-stuffer.

It was still perfect.

The holiday started with Lyla and I baking and decorating Christmas cookies to take to our neighbors on Christmas Eve Eve. This recipe was extra special too - one of my sorority sister's lost her mom years ago, and to honor her, my friend sent out her mom's famous sugar cookie recipe. They were delicious, and I kept thinking how special it was to be part of the fun memories that were created year after year with this recipe. I can't wait to bake them again next year! #cookiesforpaula

While the girls napped on Christmas Eve, I prepped for the Christmas brunch we host each year. I was super bummed because we had to skip Christmas Eve service this year as Gabe had to work. Bah Humbug. But I still dressed the girls up before we headed to GiGi and Bots' house for our traditional chow-down on shrimp, cheese, mushroom soup, and fudge.

 Lyla is going through a new {hopefully} phase where she is nervous around the camera

GiGi and Bots sure know how to make a Christmas Eve spread. If only I had a picture of it. Luckily, I did get a picture of Lyla trying ginger beer for the first time. She felt sooo big because we were all drinking Moscow Mules and she got to drink ginger beer out of a fancy Fostoria glass. She has been saying "more ginger beer" ever since.

After rushing home to tuck in the kiddos, we got started on Operation Kitchen Project. It was 9:30, mind you. Four hours later, and thanks to the best husband and daddy of all time, we had a play kitchen! The girls slept until 8:30 Christmas morning, which was the best gift of all because I still had some dish-prepping to do. And even though it totally takes away from the romanticism of Lyla waking up and running out of bed to see what Santa put under the tree, we went in to get her {because she doesn't get out of her bed} and fed her pre-brunch breakfast first. I mean, she's two and wanted "lunch" for Christmas. Girlfriend has to eat. So after breakfast, we dug into the stockings and presents under the tree.

Wearing Mama's old holiday dress

And then the BIG REVEAL. Santa's Elves decided to finally complete the last room in our house. It only took 4 years. The trim and walls were painted and shelves were stocked with current toys to make a play room. {One that is not yet complete. Like, it has exposed outlets. But that's neither here nor there. Because I'm avoiding stress...remember?} And of course the four hour kitchen was revealed as well.

Then we topped off the rest of our four-day-Christmas-extravaganza with more family, food, and merriment.

And that is what I like to call a merry little Christmas.

**Oh. And I just want to give a special shout-out to my saint of a mother-in-law. Who spent her entire day-after-Christmas rummaging through bags upon bags of garbage to find an ornament we misplaced. Only to find it in the very last place she looked: the garbage bin at the curb ready to be picked up in the morning.

That, my friends, is what we call the Christmas spirit.


Kristin said...

OMG! What a wonderful Christmas! I haven't read a blog in MONTHS and am horrified that I missed the birth of your GORGEOUS little second! :) I'm so excited to catch up.

Leigh said...

Looks like you guys had a wonderful Christmas! Your girls are just too cute :) Was there a story about the ornament? And she sure is a saint for doing that! :)

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

That little kitchen is so cute! It looks like it was a wonderful Christmas!