The day after Thanksgiving is my favorite day because everyone catches up and starts getting ready for Christmas! Overnight it becomes socially acceptable to listen to Christmas music, and it’s okay to deck the halls with Christmas cheer. Finally.
This year we went to Northern Lights again. We made the trek with Jesse’s folks this year. We found a perfectly lovely Fraser Fir that was tall, and sparse, and green.
Jesse, with some help and encouragement from the girls and his dad, cut down our tree. It has a much thicker trunk than our past trees, and Jesse had to work quite hard to fall it.
I love this rainy, muddy, sunny, chilly annual adventure. I figure that since we live in the place where most the Christmas trees are grown, it’s worth it to go to the source and get the freshest of the fresh.
Because, just look at the sweet memories we are creating.
Back home we got the tree all decorated. When we were done, there was a pretty solid ring of ornaments right at Harriet and Alma height.
And adding the star to the top is a family affair. I love the magic of this moment, every single year.
We also got to visit Santa after church on Sunday. I seriously love this Santa (except that this year, he told the kids he’s just a helper… I was fully committed to teaching our kids that he was the real deal, but, whatever…).
I think this was the first year both girls have happily gone right up to him and jumped into his lap.
We went, of course, with Rory and Poppy. Poppy was a little unsure about the whole deal.
We wrote our letter to Santa and put it in the mailbox. Then a talking tree – Doug Fir – came up and made us all a little uncomfortable.
But, hey! It’s Christmas time! It’s Advent! Let’s be jolly!
It’s almost Valentine’s day, so I thought I should put up some love-ly stuff on the mantel. Get it?
I had the great honor of winning these kissing dogs at the annual Christmas party white elephant gift exchange. We’ve been going to this party for the past few years, and these dogs always make a showing, being passed from house to house, from closet to closet. Now that I’ve received these wonderful puppies, I know that I’m really part of the gang.
I think people are usually freaked out by these perfectly loving doggies, but not me, folks. These canines are getting special front and center treatment this year. I might not even take them to the gift exchange next year. They might be mine forever. Deal with it.
I felt that, since Valentine’s Day is coming up, and since it’s all about love, what better way to show my love for love than by a sculpture of two blue-eyeshadowed dogs in a sweet, loving embrace, gently kissing with peacefully closed eyes? There is no better way.
First and foremost there is “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (I wrote all about my love for this perfect song two years ago). Then there are the classics, the obvious choices – “White Christmas,” “Let It Snow,” “The Christmas Song.” Then there’s always “O Holy Night” – such a lovely, simple song.
But, I have some other, more eclectic favorites. Bear with me, some of these are strange, but all of them are worth it.
[I’m posting some videos below, but I only wanted to post links to videos that where officially posted by the artists. You can look up the other songs on YouTube for unofficial videos, or on Spotify. But I do suggest that you listen to each and every one of these songs.]
“A Baby Changes Everything” by Faith Hill. This one was all about the timing. I first heard it when I was 9 months pregnant with Alma. It’s slightly cheesy, but it still has a beautiful message about motherhood, and Jesus and all that.
“It Won’t Be the Same This Year” by Vince Gill. This is a sad one. I don’t know why I love sad Christmas songs. We had this album when I was little, and I always loved this song.
“Love is Christmas” by Sara Bareilles and by Evynne Hollens and Emily Sangdor. This is probably the most modern song on my list. I love anything by Sara. I also love everything by Evynne, so her version is perfection.
“Where Are You Christmas?” by Faith Hill (again). This one is from the Grinch movie that I have never seen. The song, though, is one of my very favorites. It’s all about hope and love and joy. What a great message to have all year, but especially at Christmas.
“The Man Who Would Be Santa” by Vertical Horizon. This was another song that came into my life at the right time. It was my freshman year of college. “The man who would be Santa tells his son to write, to call him if he needs him in the middle of the night, ‘don’t you worry, don’t you cry now, your mother and I love you, and think about you all the time.” This is an acoustic version on the band’s YouTube channel, but the original is also great.
“Magic” by someone on an old Christmas in Sun Valley cassette tape that my brother turned into a CD. I can’t find a video of this song, but it’s great. It’s all about how Christmastime is magic. Absolutely magic.
“Good King Wenceslas” by The Roaches. I love this one so much. The idea of helping others, especially those who are less fortunate, is such a beautiful idea. And the fact that the Feast of Stephen is the day after Christmas is perfect. After all the craziness, it’s great to take a breath and give back.
“The Cherry Tree Carol” by Peter, Paul, and Mary. I love a good story song. Peter, Paul, and Mary’s Christmas album was in heavy rotation when I was a kid.
“Silent Night” all versions, but especially Cantus and the Dublinaires.
“One Little Christmas Tree” by Stevie Wonder. Another song of the year. I listened to this one on repeat while we were in Azerbaijan. Christmas felt so strange there, and this song seemed especially poignant.
Last, but certainly not least – The entire Very Special Christmas, Volume 3 album. Especially “Christmastime” by the Smashing Pumpkins, “Oi to the World” by No Doubt, “Christmas” by Blues Traveler, “Christmas in the City” by Mary J. Blige ft. Angie Martinez, “Christmas is Now Drawing Near at Hand” by Steve Winwood, and OF COURSE “Christmas Song” by Dave Matthews. I know this is a crazy 90s flashback. I remember listening to this during my senior year of high school. If I started the Dave Matthews song right as I left school, it would end as I pulled into my driveway, every time, WITHOUT FAIL. Christmas miracles, folks.
This is our fourth year visiting Santa at the Festival of Trees. It’s great to see him every year. This year we went with Rory and Poppy, and all four kids were (mostly) happy to go say hello. They were a little nervous, but there were absolutely no tears. I’m sure the candy canes helped.
Alma told Santa she wants a unicorn with a glowing horn (anyone have any ideas for this?). Rory told Santa he wants a Poli. Harriet and Poppy didn’t tell Santa what they want.
Our Fourth Annual Pumpkin Patch Playgroup. I could write a lot about this, but I’d basically just say the same thing I’ve said before (here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here). I won’t put you, the reader, through that again. I’ll just say that I love raising my kids with these people.
Before I post the photos from this year, let’s take a little trip down memory lane, shall we?
2012: So many Ergos, so few people. This was one of our first organized outings. We have grown in families and children. Most kids weren’t walking yet. Leia and I were almost pregnant, but this was it! Seven kids in this photo!
2013: Quite a bit bigger. A few pregnant moms, two new babies, eleven kids. 2014: Even more! More families, more babies, more pregnant moms! Just more! Fifteen kids (I think!) 2015: Wow! So many kids! So many people! No pregnant women (as far as I know!) Nineteen kids! Today was one for the books. We were planning on going to our usual, traditional farm. Someone (Jane I think) checked their website and saw that they didn’t open until noon. We were all on Facebook discussing what to do. My family was already in the car, ready to go, so I suggested a change of venue (after changes of time and other ideas had been thrown out there). Everyone agreed and spread the word. It might not sound impressive, but it was quite amazing to watch 10 moms discuss and agree and mobilize all within about three minutes. I told you this playgroup was special. I love these people.
Hayride, pumpkin picking, corn mazing, fun, fun, fun. It was an oddly beautiful day. I love these sunny, crisp days, but I have to admit, I’m getting anxious for the rain to come (and stay for a while). Call me crazy!
Today was the day. While the kids were at school, I came home to clean the living room and decorate for Autumn. How pleasant this task was without little feet underfoot. Plus, I get the added bonus of surprising them with all the new Autumn decor when they come home!This year the mantel is a little more Halloween-y than in the past. I put our vintage Halloween postcards right in the center, and added some more spooky things. I love this sphere my grandpa made out of obsidian that looks like a magical eyeball crystal ball or something. It’s even spookier with my ghostly reflection in this photo… I can’t remember if I ever shared a photo of the fireplace all painted. I ended up painting the inside a charcoal color, and the outside just a plain white, whatever we had in the shed. I love how it brightens up the room. This next decoration cracks me up. I think my mother-in-law gave this to the girls last Autumn, but I couldn’t find the dowel for hanging it. It probably became a sword or a wand and had to be taken away. Anyway, the girls have been playing with this branch and I thought it would a perfectly spooky flagpole. I doubt it will last long, but it’s funny for now. Just watch out as you walk into our garage… Here’s our front porch decorations. The broom is actually my mother-in-law’s; she won it in a raffle and I picked it up for her. I’m sure she’ll agree that it looks really good on our porch, right?!? We’ve been collecting the mini pumpkins each time we go out to the farm. I’ve also meant to post about our new bench! Jesse built it and I stained it! Isn’t it amazing? We used reclaimed lumber from my dad’s old deck. I love the nicks and dings and nail holes. I’m so proud of Jesse, following in his woodworking grandfather’s footsteps. We bought a Kreg Jig for this project and it made the whole thing so easy and perfect. Now Jesse is inspired and motivated to make all sorts of things. I love that this is a new hobby for him because he’s really good at it, and I get awesome things out of it! And of course, I needed to get the fairies some new Autumn decor.
I always love pulling out all our Christmas decorations. It’s great to see our old creche that’s been in the family for at least four generations. I love the stockings I made for the girls. This year, I’m happy to have some new decorations to add to the mix. I was inspired by Sarah (a common occurrence, being inspired by Sarah) to get out my wood burning tool and make something. We had a spare piece of plywood sitting around from Alma’s new bed. I looked around for some Christmas inspiration and decided to do a O Holy Night wood burning.
I also decided to actually display the Christmas cards we received this year, and I figured they would add a little color to the yellow wall with the O Holy Night wood burning. I just strung up some red ribbon, got some wee clothes pins, and let my friends and family provide the color.
Last year, my friend Jacque made me this awesome chalkboard. It’s been fun changing it up through the year. For Christmas I drew a tree and added some completely random Christmas words. Pretty sloppy, but still gets the message across.
My mother in law is a fantastic water color artist and gave us this painting of Mary and Jesus with a poem. It’s a lovely Christmas decoration.
They made their first appearance earlier this month. As luck would have it, the girls got a package in the mail from my aunt Kim. When I shook it, I could tell it was something Christmasy – I figured ornaments or something. I decided it would be cool if the Goodness Gnomes delivered it to Alma and Hattie as a fun introduction.
When they girls woke up in the morning, they found that two gnomes had come through the fairy door with a package.
They also had a note saying that they should name the goodness gnomes. Alma named the red one Tasty, and Hattie named the blue one PuBa.
They loved the goodness gnomes.
I thought to myself, “Yes! It’s working! My girls are amazing and I will be able to teach them all about kindness and goodness and giving!”
They opened the package and for the most amazing Christmas hats. Seriously, my aunt is a knitting genius. Hats with jingle bells. I can’t even. They are gorgeous.
We had lots of fun that day. Alma wore her hat to school. Hattie kept hers on much longer than she usually keeps hats on. We did lots of jingling. And playing with Tasty and PuBa.
But… the day was sort of hard on Tasty. Alma took it upon herself to give him a shave. He almost lost an arm.
He has gone back through the fairy door. He has not come back. He might send some (more sturdy) friends next year (or maybe the next…) to continue this tradition. For this year, my girls got a taste of magic and some amazing hats. Good enough for me, I think!