If you remember the end of my Thanksgiving post, I had not ordered nearly enough strands of lights as I thought I'd need for our tree. Early in December I remedied that and we got the whole thing totally set up.
This year we had some of my handmade decor, including this plaid, fleece, tree skirt with satin binding (which I wrote in detail about here), and these darling miniature cinnamon stick Christmas trees. I've created my first digital pattern with these trees, so forgive me if I spam you 50 billion more times with them.
You can get the Cinnamon Stick Christmas Tree Digital pattern here.
Another handmade item featured this season was this incredible Advent calendar my sister, Sariah, sent us. It was two years in the making. She made each one of these cross-stitched stockings, and I can't even on the quality of them. This is an heirloom gift that will stay in our family for generations if I have my way.
I mean, look at the incredible details on this hedgehog!
The girls and I are in agreement that Odette the owl is our favorite. I think it's her eyelashes that seal the deal.
Eric digs Alastair the snowboarding alligator.
Sariah knows we aren't religious so I doubly appreciated that there isn't any overt religious iconography on the stockings. While I still occasionally use the term Christmas, we aren't celebrating anybody's birth when we put up a tree. Call it a Yule tradition, or Winter Solstice, or Festivus, there's just so much of Christmas that I do like, that we incorporate the things we see fit (kinda like the way Christians incorporated all the traditions from the peoples their religion overran.)
Instead of filling the daily Advent calendar with chocolates, we had the girls sit down and think about people they'd like to do nice things for and we put their names in each little stocking. For 25 days we focused on helping others. We bought presents for children in need for a local gift program and we sent letters to friends and family who weren't in town. Even after delivering the gifts to the local gift drive we kept the tags on the tree. I hoped the girls would keep those kids in their hearts.
I had invited several families we have met since moving up here to dinner on Friday the 23rd. However, when Friday morning dawned, I awoke to horrible pain in my right ovary. This pain has become cyclical since before the surgery I had in May of this year. I never know what level of pain each cycle will bring. Sometimes I can take Motrin and take it very easy and it's bearable, sometimes it's so bad I've gone to the hospital. Friday's pain was the 'don't move a muscle and do absolutely nothing and you'll make it through' kind of pain. It meant canceling dinner with my friends, which totally sucked.
The next day was Christmas eve and our town had received several feet of fresh powder. That meant two things: a white Christmas! and that Eric was high up on Mammoth Mountain riding double blacks down the face all morning. About mid-day he discovered he had forgotten to zip his jacket pocket and he'd lost his car keys.
I'd been still taking it easy and trying to avoid pain. The girls had been watching Netflix almost all day. We all piled in the car in our pjs to pick Eric up once the tow truck arrived. We had the car towed to our house so we can sort out getting new keys on Monday. (You try getting a new key and alarm fob made on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in a town as small as Mammoth).
Eric took the whole thing in a stride, because really, what can you do? We also ended up helping the guy parked next to us whose car wouldn't start. The tow truck guy jumped him and then we all caravan-ed back to our house.
On the drive back I was still tired and recovering and knew that I wouldn't be making any dinner that evening. Eric was starving and the girls were hungry so we ordered pizza and salad from John's Pizza Works to go. It was a smart and delicious move.
As the night waned on we made sure we were ready for Santa and basically entertained the kids until it was time to send them to bed.
Finally, after wearing the kids (and Eric) out thoroughly, and reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, we got the kids to sleep.
The next morning came swiftly, and so did the pure joys that only kids really exhibit on Christmas morning.
"Candy?! We never get candy!!"
There was the joy of seeing Lyra, who had asked Santa for a reindeer, get one.
There's nothing quite like nailing a gift.
We don't buy a lot of presents for the girls or ourselves. Of the stuff we did get, we focused on toys related to S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, arts, and science). I was blown away by the state of LEGO today. This dragon is fully articulating. And it came with a little catapult too.
This year I decided to make fabric gift bags instead of using wrapping paper. It's better for the environment, cheaper, and EASIER. OMG. So damn easy to "wrap" presents now. I wrote about the ones I made here.
The sum total of our trash made up of wrapping paper fit in the palm of my hand, and came from gifts from friends and family.
We spent some time playing with the new toys (even as an adult it's hard to not get sucked into Goldiblox, LEGO, and snap circuits.)
But we didn't chill for long. Part of the cards we had written in the Advent calendar included our local police and firefighters. We explained that most people want to spend a day like today with their families, but some people have to work, including our first responders. The girls had drawn cards for them, and for our local friends, so we piled in the car to spread some holiday cheer.
It was a fantastic day and a wonderful month all around. We finished out the day playing with new toys, reading, and spending time together. I'm grateful for this wonderul life we've made in the mountains.
Happy Christmafestivyulesolsticehannukwanzadan !