Friday, January 18, 2013

Catching up- Christmas

So I love Christmas time and I try to make it special for my family as much as possible.

The first thing we always do is decorate the house. I have something like 6-10 totes of decor. Excessive, yes and no. To me I love celebrating and it has all been accumulating over the years of our marriage. To be really honest, a lot has been gifted to us by our families as well. But excessive in that we have multiple trees (full size trees) and every room as decor.

My favorite part of our decor is all my nativity scenes. Where most have a tree in every room, I've got a nativity for every room. I love them all!

The next thing we start is our Jesse tree. I love this tradition and it's only our second year doing it. Each day we read a devotion about the lineage of Jesus. We then hang the corresponding ornament on the tree. Elizabeth loves the little tree and is slowly starting to understand the stories. By the way we use the Ann V series. It's beautifully written.

Soon after we start the Jesse tree it's time for the advent wreath. I bought a new one this year and you wouldn't believe the excitement the girls had when we would light the candles at dinner.

Once work ended I tried to do several crafts with the girls. We had a ball!

We spend quite a bit of time at church this time of year and this season was no exception. I'm in choir so we practiced frequently for our cantata. And to be honest, I had a solo but gave it up. I get so nervous singing in front of people that I shut down. After a talk with the choir director it got resolved. Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to sing alone.

Mark and I were in charge of the children's Christmas production too. Because our church is small, we decided to do a variety show as we don't have enough kids in one age group for much else. The show had singing, playing instruments, a children's bell choir, a game of teens vs. adults, and some improv. It went really well. I was especially proud of Elizabeth who sang to every song. Not to mention, the teenagers who brought the house down.

During practice for the children's program, we tried to teach the kids something as well. Each practice we participated in a different mission. We made operation Christmas child boxes for our international mission. We made recycled decorations and raised money for Solar Under the Sun (an organization that brings solar power to areas with no power) for our good stewardship campaign. Finally, we collected food items for our local food bank. The kids had a ball and I think learned a little about giving back. As my oldest said, "if we don't help, some kids can't have a Christmas".

I also somehow got to run the Christmas party at preschool. I didn't go as crazy at Christmas as I did Halloween, but it ended up going well too. We had a yummy snack, made ornaments for the parents, decorated trees, and exchange a book. Elizabeth was very excited to get a sponge bob book, as I don't let her watch it.

Finally we reached Christmas eve, and Mark's aunt Fran came to spend Christmas with us. We had so much fun. Our Christmas eve consisted of a nice breakfast, lunch at my cousin Stephanie's house, a little cooking, Christmas eve communion as a family, dinner at my mom's, reading the birth of Christ from the bible, and then our traditional quiz.

Communion is probably my favorite time. It's a simple service with each family taking communion together. The reverend says a blessing and we light a small candle for our family. By the end of the evening the church is lit up in candle light. It is beautiful and you can feel the presence of God immediately.

If you're wondering about the quiz, that tradition started when we were little. You see my parents wanted us to listen to the bible story and commit it to memory. So in order to open one gift on Christmas eve, we had to answer a question pulled from the story. You better believed we listened. Over the years our competitive nature has taken over, so now we grow more excited about finding the perfect question to stump each other. I'll give you an example. We usually read the KJV of the bible, but this year we used NIV. The story is the same but the language is slightly different. I made my sister contrast the differences between the two versions when the angel spoke. If you know my sister, this was easy for her. Lol

Evie got a doll that night.
Elizabeth loved her new pony!

When we returned from my mom's we got the cookies, milk, and carrot out for Santa and his reindeer. We then lit our own advent candles together and said our goodnight prayers. The girls went to bed and we got to work.

She left Santa cookies, milk, and a hand written note (she wrote it!).  The carrot is for the reindeer.

Santa definitely came and even delivered some homemade gifts from mommy. Included were some lounge pillows for the girls to lay on while watching tv. I sewed four pillowcases together and viola, nap mats! I also created some cute figurine blocks for them with mods epode and wooden blocks from micheals. Elizabeth loves these! Finally I crocheted Evie a little doll. It's made to look like her. She also loves it.
Elizabeth's Santa gifts

Evie's Santa gifts, the doll I made is in the front.

The rest of their gifts followed a strict rule. Three gifts to follow the three gifts from the wise men. A want, a need, and an article of faith. The girls got three from mommy & daddy, and three from Santa. The rest was small trinkets of candy and nail polish. It very much simplified our Christmas and I plan to do more next year. It worked so well and no one was disappointed, as gifts were carefully thought out and chosen with care.

After opening presents from Santa, my parents and sister arrived for breakfast. We had quiches, hash town casserole, and cranberry apple bake. I hate to brag, but I think I may have found the best quiche and pie dough recipe ever.

We finished up presents and the rested a bit, before heading to my mom's house. There we had lunch and exchanged gifts with my dad's family. After the usual melee, we finally headed home. A great Christmas indeed!

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