Tuesday, December 20, 2016

All the Merry Things

It would be just fine with me if December could last the whole year through!  I love it!  I just absolutely love everything about it!  The month has been filled with all sorts of merry things, and there's even more merry to come!  Oh what fun!

One of the first things we do is decorate!  All of our decorations, with the exception of the trees, went up before Thanksgiving.  We weren't here for Thanksgiving, and I don't host Thanksgiving at my house.  So it's really nice to come back from a long trip and have the house already decorated for Christmas!  The day after we got back, we went shopping for a tree.  I wanted to go to the tree farm again and cut our own, but the circumstances this year didn't allow us time to do that.  We found a beautiful tree none-the-less.  We brought it home, and I stayed up late that night putting the lights on it.  The next day I flew back to Georgia so it was decorated with only lights for awhile.

We absolutely love decorating the tree each year!  Our favorite part is slowly and carefully unwrapping each ornament and telling the story, yet again, behind it.  This year we picked out new ornaments at the Christmas store at Magic Kingdom during our trip to Disney.  Mason, of course, chose Chewbacca.  Ellie chose Aladdin and Jasmine, and Hannah Kate chose Elsa.  I like to find dated ornaments so I can remember which year they were from.
Here's our tree after I put the lights on it.  Honestly, I could probably leave it just like this and be just fine.  
When I flew back into town on Tuesday, Seth was already in Wyoming.  So it was just the kids and me.  Wednesday was our very long day.  We got home late that night after dance.  I was so tired.  The kids beat me through the door.  I heard them exclaim, "The tree fell over," as I was walking in, but I really thought they were kidding.  Only, they were not.  I couldn't get the tree to stand back up.  The only thing I could do was haul it out the door to the back porch.  So that's what I did.  Most of the lights came off in the process.  And then I had to clean up all the water that spilled out of the base and the pine needles that seemed like they were everywhere.  I was just thankful we hadn't yet put ornaments on because I know many of them would've broken.
When Seth got home, he brought the tree back inside and rigged the base so it wouldn't fall again.  And then I had to string the lights.  Again.  It took me two hours and 16 strands.  Yes, 16.  I used "only" 13 the first time.  It stayed like that for several days, and then we finally had time to hang our ornaments.  Mimi always sends the children a new ornament every year.  You'll notice a common theme again.  All of these light up and sing or talk.  
My favorite is Hannah Kate's because I love Beauty and the Beast so much!  It also reminds me of our meal at the Be Our Guest restaurant when we were at Disney.
Ellie had a fit over her new ornament.  It lights up with fireworks and sings When You Wish Upon a Star.
And here's our tree.  My favorite thing to do is sit on the couch and just stare at it.  There are so many memories and traditions hanging on that tree.
When the children are in bed and all the lights are off and it's quiet . . . that's my favorite time of the day.  This is my favorite place to be!  
And, of course, the kids put their little trees up in their rooms, too.  Now, honestly, I think Mason could care less about a tree in his room.  It used to be a fishing themed tree, but last year we bought some footballs and basketballs to add to it in hopes of exciting him a little.  He was more than willing to decorate his tree again this year, but I know he does it just for me.

And Hannah Kate has her pink tree again.  Same pink tree, same hot pink and lime green ornaments.

This is Ellie's first Christmas in her own room.  So as soon as the walls went up in February, she started talking about her tree.  She knew we'd have to get a new tree for her new room, and she would not let me forget it.  I heard about this EVERY DAY until we bought her little tree.  She wanted a pink tree, but I convinced her that a pink tree would get lost in her hot pink room so she finally agreed to a white tree.  I told her she could get pink ornaments.  She actually picked out some really colorful ornaments that are so cute on her tree.  The tree is a lot taller than what I wanted, but it was all we could find.  She's so proud of it though.

Another of my absolute favorite Christmas traditions is our Advent candle wreath and tree.  This is our third year going through Ann Voskamp's Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas.  And every year, it just gets sweeter and sweeter!  The kids look forward to lighting a new candle each night at supper time.
And every morning when they wake up, they go grab their ornaments for our Jesse Tree.  We'll have 75 ornaments on our tree by Christmas day.  We read the Scripture and devotional each night at bedtime.  I'm telling you.  If you don't have this book, and you have children of any or all ages, YOU NEED THIS BOOK!  My kids LOVE it!  And it really helps all of us to stay grounded in celebration and anticipation of the true reason for Christmas.
Every year I try to add something new to my little collection of Christmas goodies.  This year it's these stackable mugs.  I just love them, especially the nutcracker.  The children enjoy a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows and whip cream every night before bed.  And I do, too!
And, speaking of collections, Mimi grew my little nutcracker collection this year.  I love these little guys, too!  
My favorite Sunday of the year is always the one in which we celebrate the Savior's birth in song and drama.  My children always look forward to this, too, and they can't wait to tell me what part they want in our annual church Christmas program.  They just get so excited about it and absolutely love to participate.  Ellie was an angel again this year.  Hannah Kate chose to be a magi.  And since Mason moved up to the youth group, he was one of the narrators.
My heart swells every single time I hear him read.  There was a day when I didn't think he'd ever be able to read in public.  But, as usual, he proved me wrong.
Hannah Kate and Abbie sang a duet this year.  They've sung solos in our past programs, but I put them together this year to sing Kari Jobe's Adore Him.  Hannah Kate was so excited to sing with Abbie, and they really did such a great job.
Our three little angels were so precious.  Two of them got into a wing fight during Hannah Kate and Abbie's duet, but I didn't even have a clue until I saw the video later because I was so focused on the girls' singing.  And, believe it or not, Ellie was NOT one of the fighting angels!
And, can we just take a minute and celebrate the sweater vest?!  I mean, Mason has worn several throughout his lifetime because I'm his mom, and I buy his clothes, and he will wear what I tell him to.  But when my husband walked into the kitchen on Saturday and said he was going to "run to town" to buy a sweater vest, I nearly fell out.  I see more sweater vests in his future!
And then the girls jumped into the picture.  Let's not talk about that cat Ellie is holding.
And then there's the annual Christmas card!  Again this year I wanted to have "professional" pictures taken for our card, but that didn't work out.  And then the day that we were supposed to take pictures, I ended up back in Georgia.  So we got a little behind.  But we got it done.  One of my favorite posts last year chronicled our Christmas cards past.  I have to say this year was rather uneventful.  The girls were more than happy to have their picture taken (for the most part).  Mason wasn't really very interested, but he was so cooperative.  There weren't even any crazy outtakes!  This is the closest we got to that this year.  
Another family tradition is decorating gingerbread houses.  We did that little activity yesterday.  

And here's our little gingerbread town, complete with gardens and a pool.
And that's just some of our merry fun lately.  Another of our favorite traditions didn't happen this year.  We loved going to the living drive through nativity at one of the churches in Baton Rouge, but they didn't do it this year.  We'd eat at a little Italian eatery before and then get beignets and hot chocolate afterwards.  But we have something else planned this Thursday that, I think, might become a new tradition.  And Friday will be our annual Christmas goodie baking day.  So there's lots more to come!

In the meantime, from our home to yours, I hope you're enjoying family traditions and celebrations, too!

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