Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Miscellany

December gets me every time. Between getting ready for baby Jesus this week and baby brother a few weeks after that, we’ve been whirling. I keep telling myself that as soon as I finish project X, I’m going to relax and enjoy the holiday. Unfortunately, as soon as project X is complete, project Y appears in its place, and so on and so on, until we’re now days away and I’m left wondering where the time has gone.

So before our company arrives tonight and before the season slips away, I thought I would push the pause button on the errands, cleaning, baking, wrapping, parenting, etc. etc., and document a few of the traditions we’ve enjoyed this month.

Nothing original or earth-shattering here. Just a few simple things we’ve tried to relish among the holiday hectic.

1. Ornament Books

Every year, like everyone else, the kids are each given a new ornament. About five years ago, I started journaling which ornament was chosen for each child and why, so that when they one day inherit the collection there will be meaning behind each dusty treasure.

I bought this set of six books to keep the pages.

This also established an official cap on how many children we’re allowed to have.

We made this year’s ornaments from the trunk of the Christmas tree Jack cut down for us in the little town of Markham, Virginia.

A few other pages from years past -

2. Dollar Store shopping.

More exciting than Black Friday is the trip we take every year to the dollar store, where the kids are given a list of people to shop for, a dollar for each name, and then set loose to make their big decisions.  Favorite gifts from the past have included an ethnic angel for Aunt Elise, and penguin shaped nasal aspirator for my mom.

I can’t reveal what they chose this year for risk of spoiling it for our guests, but let’s just say that if any of them have dreadlocks that need taming, then this is their year.  Also, I hope they don’t have a personal objection to owning unlicensed Hannah Montana paraphernalia.

The kids are also in charge of their own wrapping, which requires quite a bit of restraint on my part. For every square inch of wrapping paper, they use roughly two feet of my scotch tape.

3. Elf

I did not climb aboard the Elf on the Shelf train this year, in spite of my sister Jane’s persistent pleadings. Lucky for me, she finally gave up, bought one herself and shipped it to us.

I'm forever indebted.  It's been magic for the kids, waking up early every morning to race around the house and find his hiding place.

We named him Boehner, and he is naughty

I think he's also been on my Pinterest account looking for ideas.

4. Neighbor Gifts

I dream of someday presenting my neighbors with a beautiful wrapped Christmas box of English toffee, just the way my mom did when I was growing up. 

Unfortunately, the learning curve of candy making has proved a little steep for me.  (Overheard every December in my kitchen: “Mmmmmm, this is going to be sooo good.  Just the way Mom makes it.  Yum.  Wait.  Am I overcooking this?  Am I undercooking it??  Is it going to be too soft???  IS IT SCORCHING????  SHOULD IT BE BUBBLING LIKE THAT???? NOOOOO I’M WASTING SO MUCH BUTTER!!!!!!!”)


So until I master the art, and I plan to keep trying, I stick with my trade and instead make a little holiday hair fancy every year for the girls to deliver to their friends. 

This year’s trees were inspired by my crafty friend Jo. 

5. Nativity Books

Another simple tradition we’ve started is a collection of the kids’ nativity art. One night each December we sit around the table and have them draw their version of the birth of Christ, which I slip into a page protector and put into their own book to keep.

It takes zero effort, but I like to imagine that someday they’ll enjoy the 18 or so renditions of the greatest story as they imagined it every year of their lives.

I imagine Jolie will also wonder why she dressed the Wise Men in leisure suits.

In a separate binder we keep their letters to Santa, lest they forget what they dreamed of every year and why they thought they'd been good.  Heaven forbid I forget any of this myself.

Merry Christmas!

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