Since it has been awhile since I last posted, I thought I would put some highlights from December in this last post of the year.
This year I finally caved and we bought an artificial tree, a step I couldn't believe I would ever take. But after 10 years of buying live trees, I finally consented that they were a lot of work (set up, stringing lights, watering daily, needles dropping, taking off lights, hauling dead tree out of house, more cleanup) for a very small payoff (the experience of going out to pick a tree, and the scent that only lasts a couple of days anyway), plus the fact that Christmas trees were getting more and more expensive with each year (our first year we paid $10 for a tree, last year was $55). The one requirement I had was that it had to look absolutely REAL. So Ed spent a couple of hours online researching trees, and we ordered a 7 1/2 foot, pre lit Noble Fir. After some fluffing, and decorating, the tree was up. It looked real enough to fool several people, especially with the help of the burning Yankee Candle.
After E begged me to make Christmas cookies, I finally got around to it on the 23rd. It was a long process that took about 8 hours, start to finish. E and I made the dough during N's nap and let it chill for a couple of hours. After he woke, the three of us rolled out the dough, cut the shapes, and baked them. Then we let them cool while we all went out to dinner. The kids then got ready for bed, and we all decorated the cookies with icing and sprinkles. N went to bed after about five, and Ed, E and I finished them off. E was meticulous and creative, taking an hour and a half to decorate about 15 cookies. But we were very pleased with the end result, and she had such a good time.
We were planning on going to the lessons and carols service at church that evening, but I didn't feel well, so we ended up going for a short drive to look at Christmas light before bed. When we got home, E and N opened up their traditional Christmas Eve presents of pajamas and slippers, and Ed read "The Night Before Christmas". We then wrote our letter to Santa, and E selected some cookies and carrots to put on the plate, and the kids were off to bed. Ed and I then stayed up until midnight putting together a train table for N, from "Santa". Actually, Ed put it together, and I stayed up for moral support as we both watched "The Christmas Story".
We have a 3 part celebration on Christmas day. The kids woke up, and opened their gifts from Santa, and us. E's scooter from Santa was a big hit, and she has enjoyed riding it throughout the house, and went around the block later in the morning. N loved his train set as well, especially the engine that runs around the track with special noises triggered by different points on the track. We had some sticky buns and hot chocolate to hold us over until brunch later in the morning before heading over to my parents' house.
We then had out traditional brunch with my parents, Cara, Nana, Andrew and Erin, Sandy, Joe and Elijah. Katherine and Rusty arrived around noon and we had our two hour stocking opening event. Everyone secretly put a stocking gift in everyone elses' stocking. Then we took turns opening our stockings, each person guessing who gave which object. It took a record two hours-- it has taken as much as 4 in the past!!
We returned home for a nap around 2, and then left for Ed's sister, Linda, and her husband, Bob's house for dinner with the Crane side. After dinner, we had the present opening. E, Peter, N, and Erika had a great time playing together, and with each other's gifts. We then headed home around 8:30. Surprisingly, our kids were not tired when we arrived at home, so they played with their toys while Ed and I cleaned up the house until 10 that night, when we all went to bed.
Since we don't have enough time Christmas Day to open gifts with my family, the day after we go out to dinner together, and then come back to open gifts. It is a nice way to spread out the activities, and it gives us some time to recover that morning and afternoon.
This was the Lowery's last day in town, so we decided to go the zoo together, along with Cara. It was a bit chilly, but you couldn't beat it for the lack of crowds. We kept warm in the inside exhibits, and the kids especially enjoyed the Tree house, where E got to do her favorite thing-- make a craft. It was also nice to see the penguins and polar bear happy with the chilly weather, since I usually feel sorry for them in the 90 degree heat when we see them in the summer. The day ended with my family coming over for pizza at dinner time, and the kids playing together before Katherine and Rusty headed back home.
And that was our Christmas this year. We still have up our decorations, and it is a little depressing having that hanging over our head to dismantle and put away. But at least this year we aren't rushing to get our house in order to put in on the market!!