I finished putting all of the Christmas decorations away on Sunday, and while it feels good to make a clean, fresh start in 2011, I couldn’t help but take one last look back at our Christmas 2010 (plus, I never shared much of it with you to begin with.)
The first day after Thanksgiving, we actually got ALL of our Christmas decorations put up. Since we’re living in my sister’s garage, we had to settle for the 3-foot fake tree, and therefore only put a handful of our ornaments up. We also put stockings for us and our three cats up and by the end of December our doorway was lined with Christmas greetings from all our family and friends (a tradition we had growing up). I also decided this year to light a daily advent candle (we did that one year growing up). I DIY’d my own by buying a plain white taper candle and taking green and red Sharpies and marking every 1/4 in. or so. I then took a silver Sharpie and wrote the numbers down the side. I found a series of readings about the character of Christ to do each day, but well…it didn’t work out so well and I think we burned the candle a total of three or four times – and it took forever because it often had at least an inch and a half to burn each time! Oh well…maybe next year I’ll finally get/make my real advent calendar and actually do it everyday!
One tradition I totally love as a collector (yes, I’ve gotten MUCH better and don’t hold on to nearly as much as I used to) is our ornament tradition. Ever since my mom was pregnant with me (Christmas 1981), she has purchased at least one ornament for each child. Over the years, we’ve developed quite the collection. Once we had a place of our own and our own tree, we could take our ornament box with us and then use it to decorate our own tree so we didn’t have a bare tree the first few years, or have to purchase a lot of ornaments ourselves. Well, ornaments have become a bit of an “obsession” for me and I probably have enough now to fill at least TWO full-size trees and the collection grew quite a bit again this year. Just take a look below and see for yourself (I’m not sure what the deal was with snowmen this year!).
Living in Southern California and being fortunate enough to have Disney passes the past two years, we’ve sort of made it a tradition to celebrate Christmas at Disneyland, and even though my pass had expired, thanks to a college roommate/friend, John and I were still able to carry on that tradition, which includes watching the Disneyland Christmas parade, complete with marching toy soldiers, roller skating snowflakes, dancing snowmen and of course, Santa and his reindeer; riding It’s a Small World, which is all decked out for the holidays; witnessing the lighting of the castle (it’s beautiful all lit up!); and visiting Santa, Mrs. Claus and his reindeer (I shared a photo of one of them here). We also got to see World of Color for a second time, though our “seats” weren’t as good this time around and there were a few technical difficulties AND watch the holiday fireworks from Main Street. There’s just something extra special about Disneyland at Christmas!
Our church did something really special this Christmas, aside from celebrating the opening of our new auditorium that seats almost double of what the old auditorium was able to! Each ministry built and decorated a “playhouse” to be part of the Christmas Village that occupied the courtyard for most of December. Each week they had candy, cookies and goodies to hand out at each house, along with fun activities for the kids! It was so much fun to be a part of this season at our church this year! And of course, I have to share photos of the houses…the Surf Shack from SCG Kids; Fire Station from the Executive Team; Blacksmith from our “Open Bible” group; Music Shop from Communications; Southern Plantation from Connect Ministries; English Tutor from Commit Ministries; Big Red Barn from Contribute Ministries; and the Ski Chalet from Student Ministries. I’ve heard rumors the houses will be back again next year and there may even be a few additions!
What is Christmas season without baking? We got somewhat of a late start on this part of Christmas, but we made up for it with the amount of cookies we made (we STILL have a few stragglers left). This little project also counts toward my 101 task of baking 30 different kinds of cookies/goodies. I can mark 5 different things off my list: Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Snowballs, Peppermint Bark, Rice Krispie Treats, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cookies (these are highly addictive!). My sister also made Treasure cookies, which were a huge hit with my in-laws!
I spent the first weekend after Thanksgiving shopping, and actually purchased almost all of our gifts for our families before the first full week of December was over! Unfortunately, presents sat for the rest of December and finally got wrapped and put under the tree on the 23rd (so much for not procrastinating!). Although the gifts spent little time in their wrapping, the recipients seemed to enjoy and appreciate their gifts as you can see in the photos below.
Here’s the run-down of what we got for everyone this year (it’s not necessarily what’s pictured above):
- John’s Dad: Short-sleve button shirt
- John’s Step-Mom: Red robe from Macy’s
- John’s Brother: Famous t-shirt
- John’s Step-Sister: Movie tickets, candy and popcorn
- John’s Mom: Walmart gift card (his mom and sisters live in Pennsylvania, so easy to ship gifts are awesome!)
- John’s Sister #1: Walmart gift card
- John’s Sister #2: iTunes gift card
- My Mom: Silpat; Stainless Steel Wire Whisk and Ungame for her stocking
- My Dad: New business cards (they were UV coated and included his website address); Updated website (which is still not finished…I need to get on that!)
- My Sister: Wire whisk for her Kitchen-Aid mixer
- My Brother: Fox t-shirt
- My Brother’s Girlfriend: Zebra Snuggie
And finally…what I got John:
- Robe (it was MUCH needed!)
- Jacket (he actually got this a few weeks before Christmas when he was trying to put on a jacket that wasn’t even close to fitting!)
- Custom-made calendar (inspired by Young House Love’s)
- Lens filters for his camera (UV, Polarizing, 4 Macro Filters and a filter that’s supposed to be for use with fluorescent lights)
- 12 Dates of 2011 (I found this on another blog…can’t find it now…but I’ll write a separate post about it later)
I just love watching everyone open their gifts and to see the excitement on their faces when they see what we got for them!
And I’ll just go through the photos here (though this collage is not at all-inclusive): First, you can see me grinning ear to ear as I proudly show off my present from my parents – a SILHOUETTE SD!!!!!! I am so excited to use this fun little machine, though I’m still trying to figure out an actual project to give it its first run!
I also got a pink/purple fleece throw from John’s step-sister; Wii Just Dance 2 and Toy Story 3 and some pajamas and cash from John’s parents; Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred and walking weights from my brother and his girlfriend; Wii Toy Story Mania and a watch from John; The One-Year Bible and an orange/lemon/whatever zester lined my stocking this year along with the beautiful scarf my mom made; a rain running jacket from my sister; slippers from…ME (hey, I really needed some, so I got them while after-Christmas shopping…along with a set of pajamas and a few other yet-to-be-purchased items); and of course, you can’t forget the mountain of candy…I think we have enough to last us until NEXT Christmas!
If you’re still with me, congrats, you’re almost there! We can’t forget one of the most important things about Christmas…the celebrations with family and friends, and the food you eat when you’re with them!
This year we had a fun celebration with our Bible study group (so far there are four adorable little kids…hopefully more coming in the next few years!). We spent Christmas Eve with John’s family, Christmas Day with my family and a delayed “Christmas Eve” with my Dad’s extended family (we usually gather on December 24…in fact, I think this is the first year we didn’t do it on that date!). The photos I’ve included of the food are from our Christmas morning breakfast with my family and the delicious grilled lobster dinner we had that night…YUM!
Well, you made it to the end of this VERY long Christmas post (sorry it’s so long, but thanks for reading – or at least skimming)! It’s with a sad heart we say goodbye to one of the best season’s of the year! I wanted to be able to enjoy Christmas this year, but December just FLEW by and here we are, a few days in to January already! We did have a lot of fun, and I had some time off work to just relax and get some things checked off my “to-do” list!
I hope your holiday celebrations brought you as much joy and love as ours did…so until next Day-After Thanksgiving, so long Christmas!