One of my blogger buddies recently commented that they "missed my posts". Sorry about that, folks. The Holidays are in full swing around here. And, when I'm not doing or thinking about something related to the holidays, I'm doing or thinking about something related to school. Up to now, my thoughts have been so muddled, I didn't think anyone would care to know what they were.
So, have you started your holiday preparations or celebrations?
I don't know about you or your kids, but my girls have been rather obsessed with Christmas for a while now.
Christmas music is playing almost constantly. If it isn't playing, they are singing it.
They have watched every Christmas special that has come on so far.
We've listened to Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" many times and read the book, all in preparation for going to see the actual ballet next week.
We've checked out almost every Christmas book our library has and have been reading from our Christmas basket frequently.
Daddy has strung the lights outside, complete with the tell-tale frustration of "The Twelve Pains of Christmas".
We've put our household decorations out.
We have the cinnamon pine cones and a vanilla candle smelling up the house.
The girls have made and wrapped their gifts already (without direction or prodding from me).
This time of year reminds me how great it is to live in a family-oriented, small beach community. Yesterday was our town's annual tree-lighting celebration. We all got onto our bikes and rode over to where the town center meets the ocean. There's just something so magical about celebrating Christmas amongst palm leaves blowing in the breeze.
We rode our bikes in the Christmas bike parade.
The girls played on the bouncy slide and made Christmas crafts.
We took a hay ride around town.
We got some hot beverages ... yummy Pumpkin Spice Latte.
We watched the local children dance.
We watched in anticipation as it grew darker and the mayor announced that Santa was on his way.
We listened to the mayor speak, counted down and cheered when the tree was lit.
We watched and listened as the high school band led the way for Santa and Mrs. Claus on their sleigh.
We cheered. We smiled at the joy on our children's faces. I smiled at the adorable little girl in front of us. Tiny ones are so dang cute!
Then, we loaded back onto our bikes, rode home in the dark and then piled into the car to head over to our favorite Christmas tree lot.
We've gone to the same lot since before the girls were born. We don't go because they have the best trees or the best prices. We go because of who they are and what they do with the money. We go there because we know that our money goes to help the less fortunate in our community. Isn't that what Jesus would do?
The girls ran around, flowing in and out, in between trees as they have done every year. We picked out a modest tree for our modest little living room. The girls had a candy cane, we gave the charity our money, talked about football and headed home.
Today is all about the decorating of the tree with Silk Nog and Christmas music playing ... well, after a family bike ride to the beach, of course.
Some other things we have in store ...
We're starting The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (the book) for our family read-aloud tonight.
We'll be celebrating the Winter Solstice with friends on Thursday.
We'll be going to The Nutcracker ballet on Friday.
We'll be going on a Bethlehem visit, a live, walk-through Nativity next weekend.
We'll be going to a friend's house for "cocktails" to celebrate the season.
We will be looking through our Samaritan's Purse catalog to pick our gifts that our family can give to others around the world.
We'll keep reading Christmas books and watching Christmas specials and making and wrapping Christmas gifts.
We'll make cookies and cards and go out as a family to look for homeless to deliver them to on Christmas Eve (we did that last year and also brought them all warm jackets and socks and blankets and it was amazing).
And, of course, we will be celebrating the birth of our oldest daughter, the best Christmas gift I ever received!
What have you been up to? How are you celebrating this lovely time with your family?