'Tis the Season

My Christmas cards haven't been mailed yet...but never fear, I'm not late, for it is just the second day of Christmas!  There are twelve days you know, so I'm sure I'll do what I do best and procrastinate.  I have no idea who I inherited that trait from! 

Christmas is most definitely my favorite holiday.  I have a Martha Stewart desire to make things beautiful with festive decorations and a beautiful table and the most scrumptious holiday goodies packaged perfectly to give as gifts.  My home will smell of everything that makes one think of Christmas via every deep breath.  The sound of Christmas music will pipe through to each room of the house to keep the mood.  The presents under the tree will look like art.  The children will all look as if they stepped out of an upscale catalog as we leave the house for Christmas Mass.  Our family celebration will be rich with tradition and carols and the reading of the birth of Jesus while you could otherwise hear a pin drop. 

I'm not quite sure what kind of fantasy world I live in when I imagine things like that, but it doesn't really matter...our Christmas celebrations have never been without memories being made.  I'm a pretty uptight particular person anyway, but lately I've resisted the urge to think I can realistically accomplish more than I am capable of.  Seven children (or if I remember correctly, three children...) create different priorities and not much is really picture perfect in our house, but it is incredible none-the-less. 

We have our own traditions...some well-established and others that are fairly recent, and I love them.  I think we all do.  Each year we head out together in a quest to find the perfect tree.  (Perfect is a very relative term...it pretty much means one that we think will look great in our living room).  We all have our own taste in trees.  The kids would love to pick either something that resembles a seedling or one that would rise through the entire three levels of our house!  Me?  I am in love with the tall, skinny trees of the fir family.  I got my choice this year.  :)

Cash has been here the last two years when we pick our tree...he better beware...I think it only takes twice to make something a tradition, but I'm not so sure that Annie will be on board with coming to Lincoln every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We have come to find the tree we like and then stand beside it, eliminating options until there are a couple that get a final voting.  There is typically some pouting that happens as tree selections get eliminated, but I'm getting better each year.  :)

 I've let go of the Norman Rockwell scene that used to play in my head before this event. It gets a little crazy, but the result is always the same...a beautiful tree. No matter how the event goes, one thing is standard: I love to sit in the silent darkness and just look at a tree lit with white lights. Each of the kids have their own collection of ornaments that gets added to each year. It is fun for them to open up a new one to put on the tree and go through the box revisiting memories that they have tied to each of theirs from the previous years. We have a grapevine heralding angel that tops the tree and each year it is a special task completed by one of the kids. Jakob is happy that next year the cycle starts over and it will be his turn again! Sometimes hot cocoa happens...sometimes music happens, sometimes it's really peaceful...Our tree stays up at least until Epiphany if not longer, as it should in my opinion.

Christmas Eve was quiet and simple...the first one that I think we've ever spent without extended family. Midnight Mass was attended by all nine of us for the first time ever, and I think we've finally reached the point where we can add that tradition back into our routine, although next year, breakfast will be baking in the oven while we are gone so that breakfast at 2 am is a little more effortless.

Really??  This is as good as we could get it??  We will be trying this again next week before New Year's Day Mass! 

The stockings were finally hung this year after taking a six year sebatacle.  Oh, and they're not the ones that were previously used.  I have six and a half velvet stockings with names embroidered on the cuffs, each one made for the newest child, plus one each for Tim and I.  Benjamin's didn't ever get finished and Joe's and Amelia's never got started, so we just didn't have stockings!  This year's were finished on Christams Eve, which isn't surprising since they were started on Christmas Eve!!  Well, I liked them and they served their purpose of holding clementines and toothbrushes and socks and chapstick...and pacifiers which you would have thought were candy if you would've seen the look of pure pleasure on Amelia's face when she saw them all!

Christmas Day was spent with Tim's family, and as we always do when we get together...we ate...all day, and it was fabulous! The kids are all of the ages that they play independently which allows much more time for conversation, which usually happens in the kitchen around the food. Imagine that! Games, food, conversation, more food, gifts and more food. All of the grandchildren participated in a scavenger hunt to find gifts that would ultimately build a nativity and produce the answer to a riddle of "What God Wants for Christmas". The answer? "YOU." We celebrated the birth of Christ, the love of family and the anticipation of new life. (We're going to have another niece of nephew to share next Christmas with!)

Our evening of celebrating our Savior's birth ended with a birthday cake (thanks Laurie...it was DELICIOUS!) and a Wii bowling tournament of which Jonathan is the reigning champion.

The traditions, the gifts, the food, the family festivities...they're all better because of the reason that we're celebrating them.  The pictures and the packages and the decorations weren't all perfect, but amazing memories they'll all still make!  Aren't we lucky to be able to begin our new year in the midst of the Christmas season?!