Christmas was here and gone, like a whirlwind. The wrapping paper remnants and boxes are overfilling the trash bin, tinsel is scattered throughout the house like glittering dust bunnies, brightly colored cookies have turned stale on the counter, and Jingles, our Elf, has left the building.
And I am exhausted.
And happy to the core of my being. This Christmas felt like the Merriest and the Brightest ... though each one feels that way. One just keeps topping the next, but I suppose that's what happens when you appreciate your amazing (though far from perfect) life with the people you are blessed to have in it.
This Christmas was a little different in a few ways. One, it was super warm. Like, record breaking warm. It was rainy too, which made it muggy. We turned on the air conditioning at my brother-in-law's house during our Christmas Eve get together. While many parts of the world celebrate a green Christmas, I haven't seen one this mild in the NorthEast EVer.
The other difference was that CB was with us for Christmas Eve and Day. We rotate years with her dad so last year, she was in Maryland. This year, CB was here... and Cancer was gone.
We also had a new little itty bitty baby — my nephew!! YAY!
I love babies. LOVE THEM!
Before I end up confessing that I want another one, let's move on.
Many of my neices and nephews are now teens and young adults. So, Christmas gatherings look less "kiddie" and more "teeny" if that makes sense. I think this photo speaks to this point.
They are great kids and I love getting to know the people they have become. They are smart, kind, funny, generous, loving and still... kids at heart.
The old guy included.
After spending Christmas Eve with Dr. Fab's side of the family, we were still able to make it home to enjoy our family traditions... setting out cookies, hanging our stockings, and reading two vintage Christmas books that my parents read to me and my sisters and brothers when we were small. These books are totally falling apart, but they are awesome. And my kids love them as much as I did.
This year, Rella asked to read The Night Before Christmas. They're getting so big it makes me tear up.
Pink started her own new tradition after her Religious Ed teacher (otherwise known among Catholics as CCD) told them about it. She made a box that said "Happy Birthday Jesus" and then filled it with little slips of paper as she wrote down the kind things she did in the days leading up to Christmas. Then, she left it under the tree on the Eve of Jesus's birthday, without fanfare. I thought it was so sweet and a good reminder of what the season is all about.
As our family attempts to do every year, we looked for ways to give back during December. We donated a Christmas tree with all the lights and trimmings to a family in need who couldn't afford one. We made shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child and we sorted donated toys at our church and at a local non-profit. We made several toy donations to different organizations like hospitals and shelters and sent a Christmas card to a girl named Safyre who was horrifically burned in a fire that took the lives of her entire family.
These things were very small, but they served as touchstones for the girls as they bounded through a time of year where they are slathered with gifts, food, and love. It's my job to allow them to have an AMAZING Christmas and spoil them a little bit... just let them be happy kids. But, it's also my job to keep them grounded, keep them aware, help them understand that they can do a little something in this world to make a tiny corner of it a better place for someone else.
I stayed up until after 1:00 am, as usual, and the kids were up at 5:00 am. Or, should I say Rella was up at 5:00. This was a huge improvement to the 3:15 am waking last year. They opened their stockings while we waited for CB to rise. I wasn't going to disturb that poor child so early! It also gave me time to get our big breakfast buffet started. When they all were ready to come downstairs and see what Santa left, it was still dark outside. I love that excitement. LOVE it.
Santa leaves a little "rope" across the staircase so no little children can sneak down too soon. Then Dr. Fabulous and I count them down and they make a mad dash into the family room!
I love that Pink stayed with CB to help her down the stairs. This girl is a freakin' angel, I tell you.
Tink's favorite gifts were her new hot pink glittery guitar...
Her "Itty Bitty's" which are a thing. They're at Hallmark. They're tiny stuffed animals. I don't get it. Whatev.
And, of course, every year she asks Santa for Holiday Barbie.
CB got a stocking full of Cheez-Its and beads, so she was occupied for fifteen minutes until she went upstairs to take a nap. Christmas is exhausting like that.
Our crafty, creative girl Pink loved her cookbooks and art gifts.
She received a gummy bear maker which included this giant mold for a collassal gummy bear. It looks black, but it was really a rainbow of colors layered together, with blue on top. It took the whole family three days to eat it.
Rella's favorite was her long-adored cotton candy machine...
Later in the day, CB was coerced back to the tree where her sisters helped her unwrap oodles of clothes.
Then everyone lounged around all low key, playing with stuff and I might have fallen asleep on the couch two or three times.
We had an improptu neighborhood get together which we picked up again on Sunday and just spent a lot of time hanging out and enjoying the aftermath of the Merriest and Brightest time of year.
That's a wrap. Or an unwrap. That's what we call an Awesome Christmas 'round here. Hope your holidays were the Merriest and Brightest too.