Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas at Home

One week ago right now I was preparing dinner for our Christmas Eve feast. We hosted, and I wanted to try something new, which I did and it just happened to turn out beautifully. But those details will be posted soon. That's right, Christmas dinner gets her very own post, she was that special. That was one week ago, and I feel like I'm sitting comfortably in solitude for the first time since that night. It may not be actual truth, but it feels like it. I do love the holidays, but it's amazing how busy things can get.

The Sunday before Christmas, we took our sweet Ella to her very first live stage production. I was wiping away tears as the curtain rose and Ella watched the dancers of The Minnesota Ballet's The Nutcracker began to dance across the stage. I couldn't believe that I was really attending a live show with my very own daughter. It was a complete surprise to her, which looking back, was maybe not the best idea on my part. Immediately following the first piece, Ella excitedly turned to me and asked, "Mama! Is it my turn? When can I dance on the stage?" Oh. I hadn't thought ahead that it would have been a good idea to explain that this was a performance we were watching, not participating in. My darling just couldn't understand why she wasn't allowed on stage. Can I blame her? It's in our blood! I love being on stage and always have. Pete and I gently explained between every single dance piece that we were only going to watch. She did, however, make it through the entire show, which made us very proud. As the curtain went down, though, big tears started to flow. The show was finished? There would be no more dancing?! Poor Ella cried all the way to the car. Next time I'll make sure to explain the entire process of watching a performance before we attend. She did love it, though!

I love sending out our annual Christmas card and letter. I so enjoy watching a Christmas movie while writing all the addresses on the envelopes and then carefully putting each one together in a little assembly line. This year didn't go quite that smoothly, though. The primary problem was that I forgot to actually order the cards until somewhere around December 10, when we had already accumulated a decent stack of cards from friends who were far more on top of it than I. So there I sat, anxiously waiting for Scott, our mail carrier, to deliver our box of cards on Monday. Yup, last Monday. Like the day before Christmas Eve. My plan was to write them all and send them off that same day by 5pm. Oh, friends, I tried! There's just something about taking care of two wee children at the same time. It nearly happened, but in the end, I didn't quite make it. Due to the hubbub of preparing to host on Christmas Eve, the cards finally made it to the post office the day after Christmas. Most of them, anyway. There are still some in transit. Sorry if yours is late this year. Doesn't Christmas technically last until Epiphany on January 6?

The morning of Christmas Eve we were prepared for our guests, all of the Scott family. Ella just couldn't wait for her cousins to arrive. She stacked her gifts for them and waited as patiently as she could.

After our Christmas meal at noon, the kids finally got the okay to share their presents. Wyatt was very excited to give Sam a gift he had helped pick out.

Miss Maira discovered princess Jelly Belly's in one of her packages.

Boxes are the best!

Sammy loves getting time with his aunties & uncles.

After a late round of cookies and pie, we all packed up to attend one of the Christmas Eve services at our church. It was a very cozy, traditional service. A couple of the worship leaders shared their stories of "coming home," we sang carols, and one of the pastors gave a beautiful message. Ella and her cousins even had a birthday party for Jesus in children's church! I love being a part of an incredible church family, especially at Christmas.

After church, we all headed back to our house and stayed up late talking before everyone left to get home before Santa. It was the perfect end to my favorite Christmas Eve in a long time.

The last few years, Pete and I have developed some of our own Christmas traditions. We somehow managed to be alone as a family on Christmas day every year through residency. After three years, we've adopted that as one of our favorite new traditions. We wake, peek in stockings, eat kringle (a Danish pastry Pete grew up with every Christmas), put on new jammies, and very slowly open presents throughout the day.

Ella got a sled from Santa! (I suppose this is where I insert my extreme gratitude to Walgreen's for having such a sled on Christmas Eve. That very morning I realized Santa had not yet actually picked up gifts for the two Olsen children. Santa jumped in the sleigh and sped to Walgreen's just before the Christmas Eve service and, after sending an employee out to the storage shed for the last available sled, purchased this beauty along with a musical toy for the wee lad of the family. All was right in the end. Thank you, Walgreen's and/or Santa!)

We've always kept our gifts to the kids very simple. Part of the reason is that we know they get things from most other family members, so we don't need to overload them with more things. The other more important reason for us is that we want them to appreciate what they receive. This year we got them each a gift and then one gift to share. The wood blocks is the gift the shared. They've already played with them for hours!

We hope you had a very happy Christmas!


 I have now seen the final draft of the new blog! I'm continuing to work with a designer and a tech person to get it polish and posted so we can launch. It really could be any moment. I cannot wait to share it with you!!

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