Christmas 2015

This was the first Christmas where our older two were actually aware of what was happening, which made it it our absolute best yet! We started a whole slew of traditions this year and the whole holiday felt so much more REAL.

We decorated the house with some faux-pine wreaths and lights in late November, and then as Christmas was getting closer we bought some fresh pine branches. They were so beautiful and smelled amazing but they only lasted two weeks before they started to die and get slimy - even with changing the water frequently. Next year I think we'll go 100% faux-pine! I bought some pine needle essential oil and would sprinkle it occasionally because I'm shady like that. No one needs to know!

I remember when we had Lily, feeling like we needed to have all of our family traditions nailed down. It was this huge burden on my shoulders! So many people would ask "how we did Christmas" and the simple honest answer was "I HAVE NO IDEA!"

Neither of us were raised in Christian homes, and as kids Christmas was marked by things like Santa, trees, decorations. My constant thought was, "shouldn't it be different for us now that Jesus is our great Hope"? And so as we navigate the holidays with our own kids, every year we are evaluating. What practices should we keep, which should we toss? Is there room for cultural Christmas traditions that have no spiritual significance? What will add to worship and what will distract from it?

From September 1 up until Christmas day I read through the Old Testament, as part of a much longer than usual Advent. In short, it was amazing. It was grueling at times. I longed for the peace and hope and rest that the gospel brings in the pages of the New Testament, but it was so good to read through the thousands of pages of longing and anticipation. It was also incredible for building the habit of setting aside quality time for God's Word daily. It was an average of 10 chapters a day, and it allowed me to see the whole history of God and humanity and the dance of his love, grace, and forgiveness time and time again.

For the kid's Advent, we lit a candle each week and they memorized Isaiah 9:6 -  
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

We got a tree at the absolute last minute. Like, days before! It's a bit of a long story as to why we waited so long and thought about not putting one up, but you can read what I wrote on Instagram. There were ornaments on there from when I was a girl, and the glow was soothing and cozy. I'm honestly not sure what swayed us, but we love it, in all it's simplicity. It was $25 from IKEA and reminds me of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Nothing fancy, but perfect for an imperfect family.

On Christmas eve, we let the big kids stay up super late (8pm!) to watch The Grinch and I totally cried. I didn't remember it being so sweet! I've talked before about my mixed feelings on the subject of gifts and Christmas, so the closing lines really got me.

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! 
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. 
What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more?"

Then we wrapped the kid's gifts while we shared a bottle of champagne and listened to Christmas music. It was lovely. 

Christmas morning was so much fun! We opened presents, ate this epic birthday cake (the kid's decided we should have a birthday cake for Jesus, since Christmas is when we celebrate his coming to the world, and I couldn't love that more!), and had a family dance party to this great album

ps - for those who have asked, the cake stand is from Indigo!

After enjoying the insanely sweet cake (even for my massive sweet tooth, it was too much!), we played Lego, lounged around, and read from The Jesus Storybook Bible. Later that afternoon we set out in search of hot bagels, and fresh air. I love how cities never really stop. It was so fun to see our neighbours out and about on Christmas Day. There was even a line at St. Viateur Bagel! And everyone was full of warm holiday wishes. The kids would yell Joyeux Noel at everyone we passed, while Chloe snoozed in the stroller. It was a really sweet day. 

We took down all of the decorations on NYE and the kids cried the next day! Only 11 more months until Christmas, I reminded them :)

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