Wednesday, December 30, 2015

christmas traditions...

If you've read my blog for any amount of time you know that it's no secret, how much I love traditions.  To me, they are like the icing on top of the most beautifully decorated cupcake.  That little something extra that makes everything more special and beautiful.  Having and creating traditions for our family is one of the things I love most about being a mom.  Many of our family traditions surround holidays, as I'm sure most of yours do.  Some of our family traditions have been well thought out and planned, and some have just evolved as our little family of five grows up and experiences holidays.

We have family traditions that were passed down from my family and Mark's and ones that we created as our own family.  I love both sets of traditions and like to plan the month leading up to Christmas around these traditions.  For some reason this year, I took a much looser approach to the holidays and let our traditions fit themselves into our lives, instead of rearranging our lives to fit our traditions.

Since I'm a planner, I'm not sure where this relaxed approach came from but it was great.  I typically don't get stressed about the holidays but I do find myself putting pressure on myself to create a great experience for my family.  This year, we eased our way into Christmas and still got all of our traditional Christmassy things done.  My kids got to do everything they 'always' do but we all enjoyed them more.

This approach allowed me to let go of some of my perfection seeking tendencies and as I result I enjoyed Christmas more.  I also consciously took fewer pictures and remained present with my family.  And I am totally okay with the fact that most of my Christmas cards were received on Christmas Eve.

Every year we put our tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving.  This year since I was in Hong Kong visiting my friend we put our tree up a week later.  Then our tree sat without any decorations until December 20th. Which was just fine with me.  I loved how the tree looked with just lights on it.

Grace always hangs the last ornament on the tree.  It didn't start out to be a tradition (which is how the best traditions start in my mind), it just happened.  She doesn't use her hands much and always needs assistance with things like this.  So once the boys have hung all the ornaments they wanted to hang, Mark will take Grace over to the tree for her to hang her one ornament.  It is a blue angel from Guatemala that my parents neighbor gave me after we brought Grace home from Guatemala.  This year, she totally posed in Mark's arms.

One of our traditions is to have a gingerbread house decorating competition.  This year, Luke wanted to have each of us decorate our own house instead of a team competition.  So I found a kit with four little houses and we each decorated a house, which the boys then made into a village.  They said this is where we are going to live when they are older.  Which this mama is all for!

Evidently, we are going to buy a farm and each get 5-10 acres of land and our own house.  They lined up the houses in the order in which we are going live and put in a koi pond.  First house on the left is Luke, then me and Grace, then John, then Mark.  I'm not sure why I don't get to live with Mark but I'm all for us living this close together.  I told their boys that their kids could walk over to my house for cookies every day!

I have very fond memories of my parents taking pictures of us hanging our stocking on Christmas Eve.  So, we have our kids do the same thing.  Can you tell my boys are used to posing for pictures?  And Grace did not enjoy hanging her stocking as much as she enjoyed hanging her ornament. 

I debated on whether or not to post that picture of her crying but in the end decided that this is what life looks like for us sometimes.  And I think that picture sums up one of the reasons why I put pressure on myself to make happy memories and create traditions for my kids.  I want my boys to look back on their childhoods and be able to recall them with fondness and an overall feeling that they were happy, not just that they have a sister with special needs and life was adjusted to fit her needs and abilities.

This is the only picture I have from Christmas morning and it represents another tradition borrowed from my childhood.  My sisters and I would line up on the steps anxiously awaiting the go ahead to run down the stairs and see what santa brought us.  John and Luke wanted this year's picture to include our puppies.

This is the picture I used in our family Christmas cards this year.  I usually only put a picture of the kids on our cards but switched things up this year because this picture is one of our favorites.  It is from our family photo shoot in August. 

I hope that you had an amazing, tradition filled Christmas!


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