Saturday, January 12, 2013

Getting Ready For Christmas

Yes, it is January 9th (and now 12th as I finish this post!) of the new year and I am still blogging about Christmas. :)  It was such a busy December that I did not get much blogging done at all, and there are memories that I want to write about so they are not forgotten!

This year (well, "last" year, to be exact) for the first time in many years, we actually had room for a real, "big" tree instead of the little tiny fake one we've been using.  On December 8th after lunch, we loaded up the girls and went to a nearby Christmas Tree farm to find a real tree.  I was very excited! I had been wanting a real, big tree for a long time and it was happening!  Sylvia rode in the stroller and Susannah traipsed along with either Daniel or myself, or somewhere in between.  We had looked over the map of the farm and decided which kind of tree would fit our budget, and perused the seemingly few uncut trees of that type.  We walked and looked for probably 45 minutes, meandering down one side of the lot and then heading back up to the front.  I was starting to feel discouraged and my head was beginning to ache from the sun glare.  Then we found the tree.  We looked at it, talked about it, and walked on a bit.  Then we turned around and looked at it again and decided it really was our favorite.

By then it was well into the girls' naptimes, and thankfully the tree farm isn't too far from home.  We came home and I deposited the girls into bed for naps while Daniel got things ready to put the tree up.
We have never used a real tree stand.  I didn't grow up using one, and Daniel's family had a fake tree.  The few times we've had a real tree in our married life, we've used a bucket with gravel just like we did on the farm.  We continued with that tradition this year. :)

We got the tree up before naptime was over, but nothing else happened that day.  I was hoping to have a Norman Rockwell, picture-perfect "family evening decorating the tree"... but that was all wishful thinking.  Once I realized how far-fetched that idea really was, I spent a few afternoons climbing up and down a step-stool and squeezing around the tree (hoping it wouldn't tip over!) and managed to get lights on it.  I thought it looked beautiful with just lights!

I really wanted to make some Christmas cookies with Susannah, so one afternoon we mixed up homemade Oreo cookies, and she helped cut out the first cookie-sheet full before she took her nap and I finished baking them.

The next day I used some leftover frosting I'd had in the freezer, and she watched/helped me make Rudolph cookies. :)  {Don't be too impressed... I think I made 8 or 10 of these, total; the rest were eaten as plain sandwich cookies!}  She thought they were pretty exciting.  Mission accomplished. :)

Back to the tree that was being beautiful with just lights in the living room.  I loved it.  I thought it would look even more beautiful with pretty decorations on it, but I was feeling pretty un-excited about decorating it by myself.  One day I decided it was time to bite the bullet, and got down the big tub of decorations.  I hung a few before I decided that it, too, would be a naptime project.  It took me all of one long afternoon naptime, but I did it!  Just like I thought, it was even more lovely decorated.

A few of my favorite ornaments:
A hand-painted picture by Daniel's mom.

This ornament, from one of my sisters,
happens to not only be one of my favorite
kinds of chocolate, but also bears my middle name (for real). :)

These ornaments with different parts of the 
nativity scene on them, reminding me of 
the True Reason of Christmas.

This star, which I don't remember where it came from,
but it ended up hanging right at my eye level.
Each time I look at the tree I see this star and 
love it's simple elegance.

Another aspect of our Christmas Season was doing an Advent Calendar of sorts with Susannah.  I wanted some way to count down (or up?) the days till Jesus' Birthday, but didn't want the traditional Advent Calendar, open-the-door, read the verse, get a piece of candy -type thing. Instead I made this tree, cut into 24 pieces, to go on the background that I had for it.  Each evening I wrote a "message" (a little short paragraph) and stuck it on the fridge with the piece of tree for the day.  In the message I included which story from The Jesus Storybook Bible we would read that evening.  We followed this plan for reading The Jesus Storybook Bible.  Susannah loved this, and several times a day would run to the refrigerator looking for "another message!"

One Saturday afternoon Daniel helped me try to get pictures of the girls.  The "official" picture is in this post; these are some of the out-takes (it was quite a circus with 2 little people!).

(This one is cute, but "blown up" at all Sylvia is blurry,
plus she's cute without her fingers in her mouth, too. :) )


Sally said... [Reply to comment]

I'd say you did a LOT of Christmas-y things this year, especially since this was an extra-tough and busy December for you guys, it seemed. One of these years, I MIGHT get into the advent calender thing for our kids. I haven't decided why I'm not excited about it. Maybe it's because I dislike crafts, or maybe it's because I felt insanely busy at times this year and it never crossed my mind (until you mentioned it on FB). (P.S. Increasing the screen size of my images has made your security numbers and letters easier for me to see!)

Kelly said... [Reply to comment]

I still have several Christmas (and birthday) posts to finish. Maybe they'll get done this week! :)
I love your tree! Someday we would love to get one from a tree farm.
The cookies look yummy and your advent calendar is a neat idea!
Hope you have a good week.