And the stockings were hung…

by threegirlpileup

So, the activity from today’s advent envelope was to hang up our advent calendar, which meant we hauled out all the boxes of holiday decorations.  Anna was the one who got me started on this, and I realized that I hadn’t ever done much in the way of Christmas decorating with the kids.  And it seems like since Maggie was born, Christmas decorations have been minimal and something of an afterthought, happening late into December if at all.

Honestly, this has felt like something of a failing to me.  I have so many wonderful memories of Christmas with my family–the thrill of decorating the tree, making cookies, anticipating the holiday.  And while Steve and I have consciously chosen to simplify our own celebration of Christmas, I have always wanted to find ways to share the magic of the season with my children in the same way that I enjoyed it growing up.  But the day-to-day overwhelm of parenting little ones has kept me from being able to do Christmas in the way that I remember my mother doing it for me.

And then there was today.  The advent basket was a huge hit.  “Mommy, this was a GREAT idea!” said Maggie.  It was so much fun pulling out the boxes with the girls, opening them up and finding all kinds of treasures–including some chocolates left from last year, which were gobbled up.  I have tended to keep the decorations very simple, but they were so excited about the ceramic baker figurine (complete with a holiday oven full of bread) and the music box with a spinning ice skater.   Maggie got inspired to set up a Christmas village, which currently occupies one corner of our living room.  Anna enjoyed putting candles into candleholders.  The stockings were very exciting, and the girls worked together to arrange angels and elves on the mantle above.

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(Note that the elves no longer spell “Noel”–it’s a longstanding tradition in Steve’s family to rearrange the letters.  I’m glad to see the girls are carrying it on.)

I think my favorite touch was the little birds and mouse that Anna arranged under a wind-up Christmas tree:

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It’s hard for me to explain it exactly, but it’s clear to me that we’ve undergone some sort of shift as a family that is reflected in this holiday experience today.  Although my kitchen is full of dirty dishes, the laundry is piled up astonishingly high, and I still can’t remember the last time I got anything resembling a decent night’s sleep, there are these whispers of breathing room sneaking in.  The advent basket happened.  I have lots of holiday crafts planned and ready to go.  It’s the first day of December and the stockings are hung.  Apparently I am able to step out of the management of what’s immediately in front of me–at least some of the time–and do some planning.  This realization alone gives me some ease.

Now, off to do those dishes….

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