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!
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.
First of all, please excuse how quiet andthenthey has been. I had grand plans to write a few blogs while we were away for Thanksgiving, but I dropped my phone in the toilet right when we got to our house. It spent the whole weekend in a big bowl of rice, and thankfully has made an almost full recovery.
Anyway, we had a wonderful weekend up at Sunriver for Thanksgiving with my Dad and Step-Mom and her brother and family. We went up to the mountains on Wednesday, and drove on packed snow from before Willamette Pass all the way to Sunriver. I’ve never seen that much snow, for so long. Luckily, we got to do the drive during the day, so it was sunny and clear.
We got to the house in time to play in the snow a little bit before dark. Alma loved it and would have stayed outside longer, despite her cold, wet fingers and legs. The promise of the big bathtub was the only thing that could lure her inside.
The next morning, Thanksgiving, we went to visit our great friends, the Gosses, in their new home in Bend. It was another snowy, beautiful drive. It was fun to finally get to see their house, and to get to see them!
The rest of Thanksgiving was spent playing in the snow, cooking dinner, and eating. I made the turkey this year, and everyone added something to the table. It was wonderful.
On Friday we braved the below freezing temperatures and went to the High Desert Museum. I love this place so much. It holds so many memories of my childhood. The otters (who weren’t on display), the indoor scenes of the West, the old settler’s cabin and sawmill. It’s all there, all the same, and all incredible. I loved sharing it with the girls. Plus, it was amazingly beautiful in the snow.
Alma took this photo of me and Jesse.
We went back to the house to watch the Civil War and learn how to knit. Harriet has such a sweet relationship with my dad. He’s certainly one of her favorite people. I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual.
Then, we tried to go to the tree lighting. It was just too cold, and we left before Santa got there and the lights were turned on. It was still fun, and Alma got to talk to Rudolph and Frosty. Here’s my favorite exchange:
Alma: Rudolph, I saw your friends being mean to you!
Alma: Do they let you play with them now?
It was sweet to see her so concerned for Rudolph. She has a sweet heart in her, that’s for sure.
The title says it all. Halloween was rainy. It didn’t stop us, though! We headed out with Jane, Rory, Poppy, and Rachel.
This was the third year we’ve spent Halloween with this crew. I hope we it was the third out of infinity. It will be fun when we go trick or treating with Rory’s kids (because obviously he will marry one of our girls and Rory’s kids will, in turn, be our grandchildren… anyway…).
Before we went trick or treating Alma said to Rachel, “We will go trick or treating, then we will come home and Mommy will take a picture of you tickling Harriet.” This girl has such an amazing memory. It blows my mind sometimes. I mean, maybe she had recently seen this photo from three years ago:
Or this photo from two years ago:
But we certainly hadn’t talked about how Rachel loves to recreate this photo. I love seeing how Alma’s and Harriet’s minds work and grow and learn.
So, we had Rachel over for dinner, then we grabbing umbrellas, boots and glowsticks and were out for about an hour. We were soaked. We had buckets full of candy. It was great.
We came home and warmed up.
And, of course, Rachel tickled Harriet:
The one thing I didn’t realize is that in the first two photos, you can see Alma’s little feet walking in the corner of the frame. We’ll have to make sure to include that in future years.
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.
Having toddlers, our fireworks time is pretty short, and pretty early. Last year I bought about $25 worth of ground bloom flowers, sparklers, smoke bombs, and fountains. We still had more than half left over this year.
After dinner, we handed out popsicles to Alma and her bff Rory. Even though it was fully light outside, we lit some fireworks.
The kids were pretty concerned, but Rory’s grandma (and our next door neighbor) was there to protect them.
Alma liked the green one. She still talks about it.
The kids were concerned, but not terrified. I think this next photo pretty much represents how they were feeling.
The popsicles totally helped them hold it together. Once Rory finished his, he started crying, even though we were back inside and it had been a few minutes since the last firework.