Wednesday, December 30, 2015


I hope your Christmases were cozy, slow, and filled with moments that had you scrambling for the pause button on life so you could enjoy it a little longer. I hope you got to bury your nose in the Christmas tree and get a big sniff. I bet you got to squeeze family and friends real tight. Speaking of tight, I hope your pants felt a little tight after a huge meal and you didn't mind one just changed into your pajamas. I hope you got to sing some carols or hymns and lingered over the words, feeling their trueness and was able to let hope fill you up.

There is a magic about Christmas that you experience during childhood that slowly dissipates as you get older, and it is nearly impossible to get back, because as a kid Christmas meant the possibility that something GREAT might happen, and as you get older you learned that the possibilities are limited. But as a kid, that anticipation, with no borders or limitations, is delicious. In hindsight, it is important to note that as fun and magical Christmas was, there was also a tinge of disappointment at the end of it all - disappointment at how no present really lived up, at how abruptly it all ended, and how dismal the days after seemed. 

As I grew older, I learned to replace it with a new appreciation for celebrating togetherness with my family, who was usually dispersed far and wide. And as my faith matured, it became about meditating on the passages in the bible about Jesus' birth and marveling at the story. In this way, I learned that the real magic was in the wonder of that story, and then of learning and relearning how to hope in the midst of difficulty. The bonus was being able to look in the faces of loved ones and encourage each other to likewise have hope.  

All of this made me resolve to be intentional about instilling traditions around Christmas with my kids. When you have kids around, you get to experience the child-like wonder again - how can you not? They think it's amazing to see lights up on a house or a tree being carted indoors to be decorated; everything is awesome to them. 

But I don't want all that excitement to lead up to Christmas Day and presents in the morning. I want the celebrating of the season to happen all December long and to spread the gift giving, meditating on the reason for celebrating and doing special things all throughout the month. I want to celebrate St. Nicholas Day, and read passages about the Christmas story, make cookies, send cards, pick out gifts, decorate, etc., because we can do them together. I want to emphasize how this time allows us more oppportunities to show love to our families and help people in need, but not just because of the upcoming Christmas Day. I want to luxuriate in the whole month of having nights to tell Sloane and Logan the Christmas story again and again and teach them Christmas carols to sing together.

Then Christmas Eve and Day will be special because we just get to do more of what we had been doing all month. And sometimes it is extra special because those days might mean we get to see family that we don't usually get to see. I'm considering just having Christmas month, instead of Christmas Day. Who's with me??

We were at home this Christmas, so it was different than our usual traveling Christmas. Ken's family was going to be coming through for Christmas Eve dinner, so we woke up that day with one mission: to cook a dinner. I loved that we had no other agenda except to clean, patter around, listen to Christmas music and cook a meal.

I opened my Christmas present early so we got to put on records to listen to all day long while we cooked. I posted this photo and this one on my Instagram that morning - I just can't get enough of how Sloane slings her arm around Logan when she sits next to her.  We had a moment of crisis when the power went out. But we waited it out, and during a grocery store run I spotted guys in hard hats working up on the wires. "You saved Christmas!" is what I regretted not shouting out the window as I drove by.

Once Ken's family arrived, we all headed over to our church's Christmas Eve service for Scripture readings and singing in response. It was beautiful.

This is the family photo we attempted before dinner.  I'm a little frazzled from setting up dinner, Sloane was in between funny faces, we couldn't keep Logan's finger out of her mouth and Ken wanted to get the photo over with as soon as possible so we could eat - real life!  

My cousin Lois has been visiting for Christmas and it's been great having an extra pair of hands around the house for things like cooking and dishes and also to help give these babes extra squeezes.

For some reason I didn't take the time to take a proper photo of the tree, but here is the best I've got.

Growing up, we often had Italian food for Christmas so that's what makes me feel the most Christmassy. We made a pasta bolognase, branzino fish, stuffed mushrooms, garlic and lemon broccoli, and garlic bread. Ken wanted to cook his favorite thing to make, which is crab rangoons, and that, along with some shrimp tempura, we had Italian with a touch of Chinese.  It all seemed appropriate. 

After the most decadent chocolate cake there ever was, we gathered around and gave each other the gifts we had gotten for each other. It was really fun this year to see what everyone had chosen for each other.

Sloane got a bunch of books that I have really enjoyed going through with her.

Logan was already asleep so Sloane got the honor of opening Logan's presents. 

Miles Davis and a glass of red as extra company throughout the night. 

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