Merry Little Christmas

Christmas has come and gone once again, leaving in its wake a mountain of torn packaging, and a bunch of toys and gizmos that we'll have to get rid of to make room for next year's haul. After all the dust has settled, hopefully we've made some lasting memories too.

My family had their annual Christmas party the Saturday before Christmas Eve at my sister's place. The great thing about having parties there is that Eddie and his cousin Sarah will go off to play in a far corner of the house, not to be seen for hours. Of course when they do show up again, Eddie's wearing something like this.

Violet shows off her surprised face as she opens a present.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve. We spent most of the day at Kristen's grandma's place in Huntington. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos while we were there. Back at home that night, we had some delicious Caprese panini for dinner.

We got the kids in their jammies, read the Nativity story, and let Eddie open his Christmas McQueen before bed.

Violet flashed her first hint of possessiveness on Christmas morning. She and Eddie nearly came to blows over who got to play with Jessie first.

I continue to roll out a few action figures from my Star Wars collection for Eddie every holiday. I was especially excited to give him "Disco Lando" as he was dubbed back in the day, due to his bell bottoms and Travolta-like poseability. And just look at that six pack!

Eddie's main present was a new big boy bed. It takes up most of his tiny room, but we got him a loft bed so at least there is still some floor space underneath to play. Last but not least, here is this year's Christmas card.


Holiday Traditions

When I was growing up in Price, we lived just a half hour away from my Grandma and Grandpa. We spent a lot of time at their house. Some of my favorite memories are from the Christmases spent at Grandma's. Every Christmas Eve, the entire family would gather at Grandma's house for dinner. After stuffing ourselves silly, Grandma would give each of us grandkids one present to open -- our Christmas pajamas. When we were small, Grandma would sew our pajamas, so they would all match.

With my brothers on my first Christmas, 1984

After changing into our pajamas and eating some dessert, we would head home. On our drive, we always played a game where we would shout out where we saw Christmas lights. I imagine this was created by my parents to keep my brothers and I from bugging each other, but as we drove, we'd call out, "Christmas lights on the left!" or "Christmas lights on the right!" (I still find myself doing this sometimes.) We would arrive home and head to bed, anxious for the wonders that the morning would bring.

Posing with my cousins in our matching p.j.'s, 1991.

Since my Dad worked shift work at the power plant, sometimes he would have to work the night before Christmas and wouldn't get home until 7:30 AM. It was excruciating trying to wait all the way until 7:30 before we could open our presents. We would divvy up the gifts and the chaos would ensue. After all our presents were open at home, we'd eat breakfast, get dressed, and go back to Grandma's for more presents and more food.

My family had our fair share of Christmas traditions as well. Since we lived far away from extended family for most of my childhood, we always just did our own thing. And over the years, we developed a pretty elaborate Christmas Eve program—complete with musical numbers, a tree lighting ceremony, and a delicious spread of holiday goodies. When we were younger, we would don makeshift costumes and act out the nativity. In later years, we were content to listen as my dad narrated it from the Bible. The night ended with getting to open one present before bed.

On Christmas morning, my brother and I were always the first ones to wake up. We'd sneak down to our sisters room and crawl into their beds so we could gang up on our parents. Just when it seemed we might explode with anticipation, we had to wait some more for my dad to light the fireplace. Once it was finally time to open presents, instead of a paper-ripping free-for-all, everyone took turns opening a present so we could see what they got and what their reaction was. Factoring in a short break for breakfast, present opening often stretched late into the morning. My siblings and I always tried to have the last present left to open.

New Traditions
Since we spent last Christmas at home with just us, Dave and I decided to start some Christmas traditions of our own. We want our children to grow up knowing that Christmas is not only about presents, but more importantly, about celebrating the birth of the Savior, so we have tried to include spiritual traditions. We make a trip to Temple Square each December to see the lights, the nativities, and the Christus. Eddie has always loved the temple and he looks forward to our trip downtown each year.

This year, we also went to see the holiday lights at Thanksgiving Point. Eddie loved seeing the moving lights, like the gingerbread boy flipping over the road and the penguin sliding down the igloo. He especially liked going to see the live reindeer in the plaza, even though all they did was lay on the ground looking suicidal.

A new tradition that we started this year (inspired by Dave's sister Cheryl) is using Christmas books as our "advent calendar" to count down to Christmas. We already had several Christmas or winter-themed books, but I purchased a few and checked a few more out from the library. We started on the 11th and have opened up one book each night. The last book to open is The Night Before Christmas, then on Christmas Eve, we will tell Eddie the story of Jesus' birth from the Bible.


Christmas Wishes

For Dave
Van Halen has long been one of my favorite bands, but they have been a certifiable apocalypse for the last 15 years. They've botched reunions, best of compilations, a Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame induction, and even an installment of Guitar Hero—with a whole lot of nothin' in between. But now, the band is reportedly prepping a new album for release early next year—their first since 1998, and first with David Lee Roth since 1984. I'm doing my best to keep expectations in check after a decade and a half of disappointment, but this album had better solve world hunger.

For Kristen
Recently, Kristen was with the kids at Port of Subs without me, so of course Eddie needed to go potty. It was already a struggle helping him up onto the toilet seat while still holding Violet, but then there was the little detail of the bathroom floor being freshly mopped. I don't laugh out loud very often, but I sure did when I received the text from Kristen informing me that she may have pulled her groin. After somehow recovering from doing the involuntary splits without dropping Violet, she was reminded of a handy item from Dave Barry's 2008 gift guide: the restroom baby hanger.

For Eddie
Eddie loves his share of boy stuff—Star Wars, superheroes, cars, etc. But spending most days home with Kristen means he has seen Pride & Prejudice more than a few times. By now, he has really gained a decent understanding of marriage and society in 19th-century England. His favorite character is "Mr. Jingley," but we couldn't find any good merchandise that features him. Instead, I think he'll happily settle for this Mr. Darcy muscle shirt.

Alternate: A Magic 8-Ball that answers "why" questions.

For Violet
I would say all Violet wants for Christmas is her two front teeth, but she's not picky. Any teeth will do at this point.


Christmas Crafts

My Christmas to-do list has been pretty long this year and seemed to be getting longer by the day. Luckily, I have started checking some stuff off! My big project this year was to make stockings for our family. We toyed with the idea last year, but were too indecisive on choosing fabric and they never happened. Since Violet needed a stocking this year, we were finally able to make a decision and picked out our fabrics. Then I got sewing.

I combined two different tutorials. I used this tutorial for the instructions on how to make a cuff. Then I used this tutorial for everything else.

Unfortunately, the project was sidetracked when my sewing machine developed a problem. It was unusable, but my friend Libby came to the rescue and let me borrow her machine, which I used to quilt our stockings. Her amazing machine inspired me to purchase a new sewing machine of my own which I used to finish the stockings up.

I wanted to have our names on our stockings so they didn't seem so generic. I have very little experience with embroidery, but I didn't let that stop me. We picked out a font, printed the names out the size we needed, then I traced it onto the fabric and taught myself embroidery.

I finally finished them up tonight and I think they turned out pretty well.

Now on to the rest of my to-do list, which includes aprons and hooded towels, which I'll post once they're finished.


Lights and Leaves

Eddie is going through a bit of a rage phase lately. When we attempted to get the kids bundled up to visit Temple Square on Tuesday, he had an epic meltdown over which coat he was going to wear. After our multiple attempts to reason with him failed to calm his growling and screaming, I got to pull out the parental classic, "Fine! We're staying home!"

By the time Wednesday evening rolled around, a contrite Eddie willfully submitted to our choice of coat, and we enjoyed a mostly pleasant evening downtown.

Would you believe I had to swap two out of three heads in this photo? Bet you can't guess which two.

I was interested by all the trees on the temple grounds that still had their fall leaves. Thus I ended up with a few dozen closeups of lights and leaves, and little else unfortunately.