Thursday, December 20, 2012

This Advent Season

I have been looking forward to Christmas since Halloween night.  I really love Christmas.  I think I always have, but especially since having kids.  And I have just been itchin' for it this year...and I would guess that it has something to do with being in our own place again after being at my parents' home last year for the holiday.  So I have been greatly anticipating this year, with our own home, our own decorations, our own traditions, and our own tree.

And oh, our tree!  For years I've been telling Brad that this is the year I will head out for the after-Christmas sales to pick up a real-sized tree for our family.  And for years, it hasn't happened.  We were gifted a lovely 4-foot tree several years ago by a friend, and it has served us faithfully ever since, but it can no longer accommodate all of our ornaments.  Plus, we got rid of the table we used to set it on to make it look bigger. :)  So without really thinking we'd graduate to a seven-footer quite yet for this year, I happened into a chance conversation with some new friends, who just so happened to have purchased a new tree for themselves and would be donating their old one to the thrift store.  Much to my surprise, they offered it to us.

And oh my stars!  I don't know if you can truly be in love with metal brackets and plastic pine needles, but if you can, I certainly am!

This baby rocks my socks off.  It is a beautiful rendition of a 7 1/2 foot balsam something-or-other tree, and she is absolutely stunning.  If one can use that word about a fake tree.  I propose you can.  Cuz I just did.  It fits perfectly in the little corner of our living room, and it can light up the entire space.  It currently lacks a tree topper (we've never had one) and some garland and glitter I'm likely to add some years down the road.  (You know I like bling.)  But wow.  I just love this baby.  It sounds silly, I know, but you must understand how truly magical it makes this particular Christmas for us.  New tree.  New home.  New start.

Love. It.

The downside to my Christmas decor this year is that I am lacking a bit of space for all of my displays and tchotchkes.  After having moved twice in the span of 11 months, we downsized a bit with big furniture, and because "Operation: Unpack Those Moving Boxes" hasn't reached it's conclusion (read: no shelves hung on the walls) there isn't a lot of room for the abundance of Christmas spirit I have stored away in seven *ahem* 18-gallon totes.  {Three of those totes may or may not have been the result of a wee bit of retail therapy post-Christmas last one here is talking.}  We are hard at work building what will be new built-in bookshelves on the main level of our house, so once that is complete, I will have ample display space to bring even more Christmas cheer into our home.

Here is what we do have out:

 The block nativity that I made last year following a tutorial and printable I found via Pinterest (the link no longer works, so my apologies that I cannot give proper credit) is in the boys' room.  It is perfect for them.  I've found them playing with it on numerous occasions, and eventhough the process of making it was a bit of a pain, I'm really happy with the results.

 The boys also have a small tree again in their room this year.

 And before things got crazy busy around here, I was able to whip out new Christmas covers (Charlie Brown and the red stripes) for the throw pillows on their beds.  I guess the boys' room is probably the most decked out for the holiday!

 Our nativity.

A small Christmas display on the kitchen counter...along with the broken jingle bells that are supposed to hang on a door knob.  Probably better try to fix those.

As for the traditions we have carried on this season... Our Elf on the Shelf is here, and he's been causing trouble and creating laughs since he arrived.  A full post about him coming later.

We are also counting to Christmas by reading a different Christmas book each night, which is a tradition we started last year.

With special thanks to the book orders Drew brings home from school, and the book fairs that are sponsored by our PTO, our collection of Christmas books has grown; although, Reed and I did pick up a few from the library to make up the total of 25 that we required.

This year we are reading:

Counting to Christmas by Nancy Tafuri
Lego City Save This Christmas by Rebecca L. McCarthy
Jingle All the Way by Tom Shay-Zapien
A Gift for the Christ Child by Tina Jahnert
Froggy's Best Christmas by Jonathan London
The Littlest Elf by Brandi Dougherty
One Starry Night by Lauren Thompson
Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
What Star is This? by Joseph Slate
Counting Christmas by Karen Katz
The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear by Stan & Jan Berenstain
This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten
A Cars Christmas by Melissa Lagonegro
Annabelle's Wish by Susan Korman
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess
Elmo's Christmas Countdown by Meg McLaughlin
A Child's Story of Christmas based upon the Scriptures
The Littlest Christmas Star by Brandi Dougherty
Elmo's 12 Days of Christmas by Sarah Albee
The Year Without a Santa Claus by Phyllis McGinley
Oh, Nose! by Dennis Shealy
Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh & J. Otto Seibold
Christ the Savior is Born by Tim Wesemann
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
The Very First Christmas from The Beginner's Bible

And we are also counting the days to Christmas with our Action Advent activities.  We've done this the last two years, and it is really becoming a wonderful way to look forward to the big day.  We like to do a combination of both traditional family activities as well as finding new ways we can reach out and serve others.  It was a bit of a challenge this year finding the time to do an activity each day.  With Drew in school until near 4:00, and having some evenings with other things scheduled, there were days that we didn't accomplish our task.  We were able to introduce a few different activities this year, which were fun, and I'll share our entire list on another post.  All in all, we love this but it does get to be a little "much" with so many other "to-dos" at this time of the year.  I think that in future years we will approach this with more of a "Christmas Bucket List" angle (thanks, Missy!) and just do what we can do when we can do it.  Less pressure to kind of figure it all out, and hopefully more relaxed and enjoyable for me. :)

In all of the different ways we count to Christmas, the boys could now tell you there are five days to go.  Five days!  Whoot!

I love Christmas. :)

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