We had a really great Christmas. Did you?
If you followed along in December you saw that the kids and I made an Advent Chain at the beginning of the month and did an activity each day of it. The activities ranged from doing something for someone else, baking/cooking, studying a tradition, and just having fun. I can honestly say that I felt more Christmas-y as the big day was approaching than any other year in my past, except for the year that we had an Old Fashioned Christmas. That was a good one.
We fell off the Jesse Tree and Advent Wreath devotions and ornaments and such. And I just had to accept that we are not at that place in our lives. We love Jesus full-out. But we are more of a Martha kind of family instead of a Mary one. We do our love of Jesus instead of soak in our love of him. Maybe that will change in years to come, maybe it won't. At times I felt bad about it, like I was failing, but then I decided to give us a break and let us enjoy what we enjoy in the Christmas season. And enjoy it, we did!
On Christmas Eve we went to my parents' for dinner, as is tradition. This year we had a big old fried chicken dinner. Yum! Dawson had to work so he wasn't able to join us. It was a nice evening watching my nieces run in circles and really get excited about opening gifts! There is something super fun about hearing your 4-year old niece yell, "I love it!" when she opens the gift you got her. It was a loud night with wrapping paper strewn all about.
I mentioned in a previous post that in years past I have gotten everybody Christmas pjs to open on Christmas Eve. But they ended up kind of being a waste because nobody really wears designated pjs around here (except for me, Eli and Brynne). So I decided to search high and low for the perfect Christmas t-shirt for each member of our family for them to wear on Christmas Day. I had a blast picking them out, and I think the family got a kick out of their shirts. A new tradition has been born!
Kyndal and Collin arrived at our house Christmas morning at 8:00 a.m. The kids started in on their stockings while we waited for Grandma and Papa to arrive. They like to watch all the grandkids open their gifts. It was a great year for gifts! Nobody had really asked for anything specific (except for Kyndal .... she has her own home now so asked for some things for it). I had to really listen to the kids this year to come up with meaningful gifts, but pretty much everyone declared that it was the best Christmas ever.
I was spoiled by Rick, as usual. My big gift this year is a solo trip to Hawaii to visit my friend Cheryl. He gave me spending money and new Vera Bradley luggage. I also got some North Face clothing, a blanket I really wanted, and a water pick. And let's not forget my new laptop purchased just before Christmas when my other one pooped out.
My parents give us all money every year and this year I splurged on something I would never have purchased on my own .... a pair of Tieks! They will be here on Saturday, and I am so excited!
It was especially fun to have our Bennett with us for Christmas. Nothing says Christmas like a new baby. He loved his gifts! Something he wants: a baby bike seat for his daddy's bike. Something he needs: A new high chair. Something to wear: A North Face coat. Something to read: How the Grinch Stole Christmas board and flap book (it's his daddy's favorite story). Christmas wore him out, but he had so much fun!
I fixed a huge breakfast and a big dinner on Christmas Day. I had spent several days before Christmas preparing everything I could ahead of time (thank goodness or I would have been a stressed-out mess!). It was an amazing meal! Seriously, I had to pat myself on the back. Rick and all the kids, my sister, niece, parents, and my grandma all came for dinner. It was really nice.
One special thing I did this year was to resurrect my Grandma Alice's recipe for spiced cucumbers. As a child my grandma always brought out one canned jar of spiced cucumbers for a family dinner. I always wondered why we only had one jar to share amongst all of us. I'll tell you why .... they take 5 days to make! She rationed them! I wanted to make them to surprise my mom, aunt, and uncle. I was so excited that they turned out exactly how she used to make them. I think spending those five days before Christmas pouring myself into something so nostalgic helped to make my Christmas extra special. Christmas Eve at my grandma's was my favorite night of the whole year. I so hope that my Christmas celebration for my family will evoke the same feelings in them.
Christmas decorations came down yesterday. Funny, I usually want all that junk down the day after Christmas. But this year I decorated so simply, with a small artificial tree and no muss and fuss, that I wanted to enjoy it for a couple more days. Could this Grinch be reformed?
I am still experiencing the post-Christmas hangover (no alcohol involved). I am an introvert so, although I loved every second of the Christmas festivities, I need to be ALONE for a few days. I need to just do laundry, bake some bread, read a book, and stare into space.
Thankfully the kids and I are off school until February 6th! I am going to get a lot of rest and relaxation to get us recharged for our last few months of this school year.
As I am really wanting to recommit to taking care of my mind, body, and spirit, I am planning a new challenge for myself for 2017. It is called 2017Daily4. Each morning, before the kids get up, I am going to have my quiet time with God, exercise, and get ready for the day (including clothes and makeup!). I will do all of this by getting up intentionally two hours before the rest of the family. These four things always make my day go so much better! At first I said I was shooting for 300 of the 365 days of the year. No. I probably won't be doing this on the weekends. So, instead, I have set a goal of accomplishing this 208 of the 365 days of 2017. (That would be 4 days of each of the 52 weeks of the year.) Why not 5? Well, you know, there are just some of "those days". I am going to post about it on Instagram because I do so much better with challenges if I think somebody is watching. I would love to have some friends do this with me, but it's not required for me to work toward my goal. If you would like to tag along, you can do what I am going to do .... make a four-square collage (I use Picmonkey) of you doing each of your four things (which may be completely different than mine) and post it on your IG, Facebook, blog, whatever, with the hashtag #2017daily4. If you don't want to share but just want to do, that's great too. Let me know so I can be an encourager to you.
I plan to work on some "things" within myself this year because I really want 2017 to be a great year, not only for me but for my family. And I want to do my part. What are you planning to do to make this new year a great one?
Merry Christmas and a Happy 2017!