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. :)