In my head, Christmas is a magical time, full of joy and merriment. But in reality, these moments are not always as joyous as I imagine they should be.
I hope our kids remember that we had some fun traditions and they forget the tired, stressed, impatient mommy who sometimes reared her frustrated head.
My daily prayer for myself is that I will have grace for my family, and also for myself when I mess up. I am thankful for children who forgive and forget – even if Jack sometimes tells me that Santa isn't going to bring me presents because I yell too much.
These days, the best part of my day is bedtime when Jack tells me he loves me more than I love him, and I know for sure that all is forgiven and a new day will dawn and I will try to do better.
Every year I consider trying to follow an Advent calendar, but I think it is better to give myself permission to enjoy the season without any additional stress.
After Thanksgiving we kicked off our Christmas traditions by decorating our little memory tree. We collect ornaments every year from places we visit. And now that we have children, we also have ornaments they have made, plus yearly child-specific ornaments that I am collecting for them so they will have a collection when they leave home.
The little tree that Daniel and I bought from Big Lots when we were first married (14 years ago!) is one of our favorite things. The ornaments are dear to us. I love reminiscing about where we have been, and now we can tell Jack the stories behind each of those trips as well.
New ornaments from 2016 include one from vacation in Canada with a stop at Niagara Falls this summer, and also one from a caving trip in Florida with my siblings and our kids. Unfortunately that one is MIA. I'm hoping to find it soon.
While decorating our little tree, Isaac lasted about 5 minutes before we had to put him to bed. Once he was tucked in for the night Jack helped me make our special hot chocolate recipe. I'm pretty sure he relished the extra time with mommy and daddy, decorating the tree and sipping hot chocolate while watching a movie (he picked Charlie Brown Thanksgiving!).
We always get a second tree – a live one – that we decorate with white twinkle lights and homemade gingerbread cookies. Jack has helped me with the baking for the last several years, and this year Isaac sat with us for a bit. Isaac's current goal in life is to do whatever Jack is doing.
When Jack was first born we went to a Christmas Tree Farm to cut down our own tree. For the past two years, Daniel has convinced me that we should just purchase one from Jack's preschool. I miss the farm experience, but for now, the preschool fits us better.
I used to write yearly Christmas letters to send out every year, but that tradition is staying on hold for another year. Though I still plan to share our annual Top 10 list at the end of the month.
The thing I am learning, and trying to embrace with parenting, is that you really have to be fluid. When I am too rigid in my expectations, no one is happy. It is better when things are relaxed and we just enjoy the season. We haven't watched any Christmas movies yet, but we have played Uno in the glow of the twinkle lights.
There is still Christmas shopping to be done at our house, but hopefully these next two weeks will hold more of the wonder that my heart is yearning for – both for myself and our kids. My family will be joining us for Christmas this year and I am looking forward to sharing more of our traditions with them.