Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally the day we decorate for Christmas, and this year was no different.

First, we had to clear a space for the tree.  This is the cleanest this corner of my living room has been in a long time! ;)  And yes, for those of you who are wondering, my poor sheer curtain is torn.  One of the girls accidentally tore it when she was trying to look out the window. :}

I didn't manage to get any pictures of the girls decorating the tree that didn't show their faces.  They pretty much put up all of the ornaments by themselves, though.  I was busy getting the ornaments out and trying to keep up with them! ;)  I hung a few things up, and we saved some special ornaments and the tree topper for Hubby.  The rest was done by the girls.

I think they did a great job, don't you? :)  Hubby and I were feeling rather emotional over the fact that our girls are old enough to basically decorate the tree unassisted.  (Although Little Gal still didn't get to hang up breakable ornaments...she's getting better, but she's still not as careful as her older sisters.) ;)

Our tree topper is similar to one that Hubby had as a boy, and goes great with the blue themes in our living room.

We have a lot of special ornaments to grace our tree:

Some Disney (of course!!)...

...some from my childhood...

...some from Hubby's childhood...

...lots of cute, soft ornaments I picked up when our girls were small (so they could hang ornaments without breaking them)...

...and many more.

As I gaze over our tree, each ornament brings back a special memory or a particular event from our lives.  This is my twelfth Christmas as a wife, and my eleventh Christmas as a mom (counting the Christmas I was pregnant with Oldest Gal).  It's amazing to think back over the years represented on this little tree, and to be reminded of God's blessings and provision throughout those times.  From our first Christmas as a married couple to each of the girls' first Christmases, from school projects to pictures of our family as it has grown and changed, each one brings a smile to my face. 

Some ornaments instantly take me back to my childhood, like the handmade ornaments my grandmother made (the pink sweater in the picture above is one of them).  I think of the Christmases spent with my grandparents, who are all gone now.  I see the ornaments from when I was young, and my mind travels back to cold December mornings when I would use a flashlight to check the time every ten minutes to see if I could wake everyone up to open presents yet.  I remember sitting in front of the tree with my brother and my mom and dad, staring at the beautiful colored lights in the darkness and listening to Mannheim Steamroller.  There are ornaments from when Hubby and I were dating, like the two little white mice sailing in the sardine can in the picture above.  One year, I gave him that ornament and wrote a story to go along with it (which I still have somewhere). 

If our Christmas ornaments could talk, what stories they would tell!  My prayer is that all of you have special memories of the holidays stored somewhere special, whether it be in the ornaments on your tree, the pictures in your photo albums, or even just memories hidden in your hearts.  Christmas is a good time to reflect and remember our lives, our families, and our friends.

For our family, another important thing about Christmas is the whole reason we celebrate: the birth of Jesus.  When Hubby and I were first married, we got one of the expensive Nativity Scenes at Costco.  We knew that we wanted the birth of Jesus to be a prominent part of our decorations.  The girls always love opening the Nativity Scene (or "activity scene", as Little Gal used to call it).  They ooh and ahh and love feeling the material of the clothing, and seeing little Baby Jesus and the baby lamb.  It always sparks a wonderful discussion of why we celebrate each December 25th.

Our Wisemen are hanging out on the piano this year. :)  Partially because we don't have enough room for them with the other display, and partially because they were not at the manger (in the book of Matthew, it talks about them going to the "house" to see Jesus).  We also have four Wisemen because the Bible doesn't specifically say how many there were.  Songs like "We Three Kings" have led to the common thought that there were only three.  

Yeah, we're weird like that. ;)

Here's one of our three advent calendars, and our crocheted Snowman family (one snowman to represent each of us).

Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays, but it's been harder to hold onto the wonder of the season as I've gotten older.  The flurry of paying bills, taking part in parties and decorations, Christmas shopping, and sending Christmas cards have taken away some of the simple joys that Christmas brought me as a child.  And yet, when I take the time to breathe in the middle of the craziness and really remember what the holiday is all about, I can often find that childlike wonder I used to have. 

 Seeing Christmas through the eyes of my daughters has been especially helpful, too.  They don't care about whether the house is perfectly clean or whether I've finished addressing all of my cards.  They can revel in things like the glow of Christmas lights each morning, or the excitement of opening a new advent calendar door as the days creep closer to the 25th.

 Christmas reminds us that time with our loved ones is a precious gift that should not be wasted.  It reminds us of the joy of childhood memories, and the anticipation of new memories to come.  And most importantly of all, it reminds us of the birth of a very special baby Who didn't stay in the manger, but grew up to be our Savior.    

I hope that all of you are able to take the time amid the parties, programs, and preparations to remember what the holiday is really about.  Be sure to share plenty of hugs with your families and friends, too.  They are the best gifts we will ever receive. :) 


RagingMoon1987 said...

Manheim Steamroller was part of our tree-decorating ceremony when I was a kid too. Daddy had these candles that smelled nice, and he'd light them to make the room smell sweet while we put the tree up. My crazy sister and I would sometimes dance to the music too. Good times, good times.

dannyscotland said...

I love Christmas too. Thanks for such a lovely, thoughtful post. My girls (I have two) are out of their minds excited this year. They are almost 6 and almost 3 and it seems like they've really begun to understand what it's all about. My older daughter told me that Christmas isn't just about presents, and I'm so proud of her. My younger is astounded by Christmas lights as we drive around, and does not understand why she can't have Advent Calendar candy all day long! They definitely help me feel that Christmas wonder, which, I agree, does try to go away as we get older. I hope you and your family enjoy the season.

Phyllis said...

Your tree looks lovely! I love that last picture of your girls sitting in front of the tree. We also reflect on the reason for the season at our house. I do have a manger scene, but was thinking of making one using Barbie dolls this year. Will have to see if my ambition is realized! BTW, tell your daughters they did a very nice job on the tree!

beastsbelle said...

RagingMoon1987, isn't it amazing how listening to that music brings all those memories back? ;) We loved listening to Mannheim Steamroller. :)

You're welcome, dannyscotland. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :) Your girls are at such fun ages, especially for Christmas. I love your oldest daughter's comment about Christmas not just being about presents. Isn't it great to see our children understanding the important things we want to teach them? :)

Lol, my daughters don't get advent calendar candy (we tend to be fighting too many colds during the holidays for extra sugar), but they love hanging the little ornaments each day. :)

I hope your family has a wonderful Christmas, too. :)

Hi Phyllis! I think a Barbie Nativity scene would be super fun! I hope you're able to try it. :)

I'll pass your message along to the girls. :)

Marta said...

Hello from Spain: Fabulous Christmas photos. I like your Christmas decorations. Great job. Nice family photos. Keep in touch

DJwolf-Addy said...

Your house looks so beautiful!

beastsbelle said...

Thanks to both of you. :)

Lol, DJwolf-Addy, my house looks beautiful on THAT side of the room. ;) You notice I didn't show you the whole living room. ;) It's getting there, though. Hopefully by Christmas the whole house will match the front half of the living room. ;)

Paige said...

Lovely post! :) I hope your family has a superb December.
Oh, and about your weirdness...my family is the same way. ;)

MyLittleMegara said...

Your tree is lovely!! One of my favorite things about Christmas is being able to just sit in front of the beautifully lit tree and just feel the peaceful part of the holiday. :)

Karina B. said...

I love Christmas!! I put out some decorations yesterday. =) I hope you have a lovely month! Don't lose sight of the Reason we celebrate Christmas! The One who came to save us all...Blessings!

Cure May said...

Ah Christmas, the time of year when my entire family comes over from around the U.S. and sometime even from Mexico! I love your tree, very beautiful, by the way have you heard the big news? (big news in the doll world at least) Lammily Dolls are out now! you can only buy them online for now, but im hoping major retailers will start carrying them soon. Merry (early) Christmas!

beastsbelle said...

Thank you so much for all of the lovely comments, everyone. :)

Cure May, I'm super excited about Lammily and hope to add her to my collection eventually. :D

Merry early Christmas to all of you! :)

KrissyLou said...

What a beautiful tree! Well done gals! DH is very bah humbug about trees - and in an apartment, it's not a bad thing to not have a tree! Instead I have those removable hooks up on the wall in a tree shape to hang all the girls' handmade ornaments on. And when I clear the bench, I can put out my Nativity scene! :) (That's a job for the weekend, I think...) I'll have to FB you some pics! :)

beastsbelle said...

Thanks, KrissyLou! I'd love to see pics. :)

P.S. Sorry I haven't messaged you back yet. Hopefully tonight or tomorrow I'll have enough time set aside. ;)

Ampy said...

your tree looks awesome!(as with most of your decorations ;))

My heart was feeling weird tingles as I was reading this post,it feels so deep and emotional.(well at least for me it is,)

It must be really fun to see memories just by looking at ornaments, our ornaments don't really last that long, we either lose them(by forgetting where they were), break them by accident(sometimes on purpose,thanks to my younger cousins), some get eaten by rats and some ornaments just age that they break themselves.

Our family also recognizes the birth of jesus as the most important thing in christmas. We don't really have a nativity scene (we call them "belen" here in the philippines) since theyre really expensive and our new home isn't that spacious.

I can totally agree on you about the hardship of holding the wonder of christmas as you get older; when I was a kid,I used to get excited each day simply by seeing how many days it is until christmas(especially when it's around 85,50,25, and 10 days lol) but now,for some weird reason I just lost caring about it, I know it will come and go, but I find it weird that my excitement just went "poof". :((
anyways I still believe christmas is the season(and reason) to be happy, it's a season where mostly everyone will opt to remember the happier moments that have happened this year and celebrate the birth of jesus christ. (I originally wanted to mention my doll related finds this november, but I decided not to since this a comment like that will mar the beauty of your post)

sorry for my novel xD

Farrah Lily said...

Lovely photos of a beautiful tree...it's amazing how times just passes by, isn't it? We just put our tree up today and it really starts to feel like Christmas once that happens. I love your new blog header photo! Happy Christmas season to you and your family :)

beastsbelle said...

Ampy, it's so good to hear from you. Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner.

Lol, I was feeling really emotional when I wrote this post. I actually waited to post it for a while to make sure it wasn't TOO emotional. ;)

It was fun hearing about your own Christmas traditions and your celebration of the birth of Christ.

And it sounds like a lot of us have a hard time holding onto the wonder and joy of the Christmas season. One of the downsides of being a grownup, I guess. ;)

Never apologize for writing novels in my comments...I don't mind!

Hi Farrah! Glad you enjoyed the post. I had fun trying to get just the right shots of the tree for the post. :)

Time really does fly, like they say. I think a Christmas tree is often a tangible reminder of that fact. Maybe that's why they make me so sentimental. ;)

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Again, thank you to everyone who stopped by and left a comment. I'm sorry I didn't respond specifically to all of you...this week just got away from me. I always enjoy hearing from you, though! :)