Hands down, this was my favorite Christmas ever. It wasn't any one thing in particular that made it so special. It was all the little, lovely moments tied together. Ella is at the perfect age for soaking in the magic of the season. Taking her to see Santa this year was far more fun that I had imagined. She danced on her toes in front of him while asking him to bring ballet slippers and he stood and danced right along with her. Adorable. She whispered that the Christmas lights in our neighbors' yards were gorgeous and exclaimed with delight that Christmas is when we "celebrate Jesus' birthday!"
Those details were only part of it. Another was that since I hate the obligation of giving a gift just to give a gift, I tried to make each gift meaningful this year. I think I did a fairly decent job. It was fun searching through Etsy and Amazon for fun gifts way back when I was in the hospital in November. Some gifts came that way while others were second-hand things I found at shops around town. That was one change my family made this year. We've started giving thrift store and garage sale finds, which I think is fabulous, since I love, love, love second-hand shopping.
Pete had to work all the days around Christmas and was on call on Christmas Day, so I took the kids to his parents' house before Christmas and my parents' house after. Pete's sister, Kathryn, was able to fly in from Virginia for Christmas, so we definitely wanted to make our way over to see everyone.
|Ella's booster seat when we visit|
|Nana Olsen always does a beautiful job decorating|
|Auntie Kristin knows exactly what Ella loves!|
|Sam opening a gift with Auntie Kathryn|
|Nana & Papa with the little ones|
The afternoon of Christmas Eve we ventured back to Duluth to be with Daddy. Ella & I made krumkake to set out for Santa with a big cup of milk. We've been working on intentionally doing things the last two years that we want to make a part of our holiday traditions.
|Ella's one Christmas Eve gift|
|a recorded Night Before Christmas from her godfather Anton!|
We spent a very quiet Christmas Day at home since Pete was on call. This is how we've spent our last few Christmases, and we love it. No expectations. No traveling or busyness. It's lovely. We started by checking our stockings with Ella when she discovered the milk and cookies were gone! She was in awe. And she got the ballet slippers she asked Santa to bring! Oh that Santa. He's got some pretty good elves, eh?
|Sam's ornament from Santa|
|Thanks, Salvation Army, for the great slippers.|
|Ella picked 5 things from the dollar store for Daddy|
|Ella has her very own Knuffle Bunny! She loves the Knuffle Bunny books.|
|Ella's wanted a robe. I found this Gap size 4 beauty at Goodwill.|
|Malena & Ella were ready for food!|
|kids' table with Wyatt|
|Jake & his girl, Valerie. (We really like her!)|
|Maira, Malena, Ella, Hailey|
|I gave her a girly tutu. Mike gave her the weapon. Jake defended himself with Ariel.|
|All this chaos and Malena has a plastic sword. Yikes.|
Blessings, friends, as you ring in the New Year! There are so many good things to come.
Oh, and just 13 days till Kenya!