Sunday, December 14, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

I decided to Unplug the Christmas Machine this year.  I decided to simplify, say yes to the things that we think are most important, say no to the things that aren't.  We're focusing more on traditions, and on time spent together.  We asked each kid to identify the one tradition that is most important or dear to them, and made sure to carve out the time and space to make those things happen.  We've been intentional in creating big, blank spaces in the December calendar.  We've focused on the Waiting that is so important in Advent.  11 days away from Christmas morning, I can actually say, with sincerity, that I am enjoying Christmas this year.

I'm enjoying...

the way Pax arranges the Nativities.  He is enthralled with each one, and painstakingly arranges each character in a circle surrounding the Baby Jesus.

 The best part is when I discover one long after he's gone to bed... like this one, left on a corner table and undiscovered for several hours.

...decorating a gingerbread house at Monticello was what Pax named as the Tradition We Must Do.  This year, we felt like seasoned pros.  We had a plan; we had a design; we had a wonderful time creating this.... masterpiece?

 ...New traditions:  my girl Clancy and I decided it was high time for a tradition of our very own. Early in December, we began researching the Best Christmas Cocktail Ever.  We feel as though it is the very least we can do for our dear husbands, who work so hard.... we'll take the hassle and stress out of mixing cocktails, and we'll just deliver the very best drink, right to their thirsty hands.
Cranberry Spice Sidecar = our research is over!
...After our exceptional adventure to see The Nutcracker last year, Leo decided that the Tradition We Must Do would be to go and see a Christmas play or show.  We decided to support our local high school and go and see their production of "A Christmas Story."  It was such a fun night!
Pax was delighted to see his preschool friend Claire at the show. Here, he's waving at her and giggling.  Too cute!!
The cast and crew --
 I'm also enjoying Holiday Mischief.  "I am SUPERSanta!!"  Pax proclaimed:
Driving his Sleigh on Christmas Eve....
 My mother treated me to a wreath making workshop at Monticello. It was interesting and somewhat stressful, yet I am happy enough with my end result.  I kept wishing, though, for my never-fails-me- glue gun.  The next morning, Pax had many questions about our wreathes.  "Does Grandma's wreath look exactly like your wreath?" he asked. "No, it doesn't.  We each got to do whatever we wanted." "Oh," he said.  "So Grandma's looks a little bit more awesomer than yours?"

homemade wreathes.  My mom's is on the left; mine is on the right.  
 I picked the kids up early from school one day so that we could go and visit Santa.  Aidan asked for trumpet music that he could play with his dad; Leo asked for a remote control, life-size clone of himself; and Pax froze up and didn't ask for a single thing.  Still - it was a fun visit, especially afterward, when the boys played "Secret Santa" all over the mall.

 (The boys wrote sweet notes and drew pictures on these envelopes, signed them "Love, Santa's Elves," filled them with small bills and change, and left them on vending machines and the carousel for others to discover and enjoy...)

Pax's preschool program was so sweet.  There's nothing quite like a bunch of four- and five- year olds singing "Go Tell it on the Mountain" to make you feel all warm and fuzzy.  This particular expression captures his delight in seeing Grandma and Grandpa and Daddy all present (with me) at the performance.

Pax's beloved, gifted, extraordinary preschool teacher, Ms. Susan.  This woman is an absolute treasure.  

...and then today, we celebrated Advent with the Sunday School Christmas Pageant.  Pax was a regal and proud king; Leo, a kind shepherd; Aidan was a humble Joseph.

We are discovering the Wonder in the Waiting.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

I love you even when.

Today was a long day.  After preparing 3 massive lasagnas to feed a total of 23 youth and advisors from church tomorrow, then adding in a pan of rice krispie treats, a pan of brownies, and a sheet cake for the Baby Jesus, I was pretty much done with cooking for the day. At 4:30, I wearily looked at my monthly menu plan, then uncharacteristically looked away.

Then, we invited my parents over for happy hour, so that they could experience my newest obsession:  Cranberry Spice Sidecars.  One thing led to... another round of drinks.  But what to serve the kids?

Clearly, there was only one solution:  carryout pizza for dinner.  We never have carryout pizza for dinner.  I can't think of the last time the five of us sat down for Papa John's pizza.  Was it 6 months ago?  8?  14 months?  But when I bit into that pizza tonight, fetched on by Jeff and Aidan,(I'm still too cheap to splurge for the delivery guy) the first thought that ran through my head was, this is delicious.  Why don't we ever order pizza?  

An hour later, I started the putting-Pax-to-bed ritual.  After books, prayers, and songs, I lay next to him, quietly, holding his hand.  And then -  he said, "Mom, I love you.  Even when we have carry-out pizza for dinner."

I sat there, stunned, ingesting those words, not believing what I'd heard.  I reframed it into a question,

"Even when we have pizza?"

"Yes, I still love you," he answered.

Tonight, I learned the very real consequences of raising foodies who love to cook.... and perhaps, too, the measure of unconditional love.