Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Top 5 Christmas Moments + Memories 2016

We're still in the middle of our holiday break over here and I'm loving every lazy minute of it! I thought I'd share a quick Christmas recap in the form of a top 5 list with pictures galore... because Top 5 lists are awesome. Everyone knows that. 

1. Creating and Making
If you're a maker the Holidays are your jam. From making presents to ornaments to cookies to wrapping paper to tablescapes and decor, to memories... the creating is endless during the holidays and I love it all. I try to do it in a stress free way though with low expectations because it's far too easy for me to slip into perfectionist mode where I get overwhelmed by just the idea of doing something that I talk myself out of it before it begins. For example, it had been years since we had decorated sugar cookies and I invited some friends come and decorate with us on a whim. Other than snowflakes I don't even have Christmas cookie cutters. But my friend did and everything turned great! I made the dough the night before, us moms rolled it out and baked them then everyone decorated. The stress comes from when I over think it and feel like I need to research for hours to find the perfect cookie and frosting/icing recipe or make a special trip to the store for special sprinkles, food dye or piping bags...we just used what we had on hand and everyone had a good time.

The wrapping paper was another spur-of-the-moment thing I did with Zuzu one morning... we laid out a sheet of kraft paper, grabbed some red and white paint and got to work. I will say one way to keep things low-stress is to have supplies on hand for making... a giant roll of kraft paper is always a good thing to have on hand. (Also, it wouldn't hurt to replenish my sprinkle/cookie supply for the next time I want to have a spur-of-the-moment cookie party.)


I'm still getting the hang of what I like my Christmas decor to look like as well. I love buying a bunch of eucalyptus, and garland and seeing what I come up with each year...this year I also did a quick winter mural on our grey accent wall. Guess what? You don't need "chalkboard" paint to use chalk on your wall... we're all suckers! Every year I get a little better at creating a cozy Christmas home and I love it so much. Afterall, the most important thing you make are the memories. 
(made these ornaments with the girls this year and totes forgot to post the tutorial... real life win, blogging fail.)

2. A Small Act of Service (no photos for this one)
At the beginning of December our family assembled kits for the homeless. Kits included a bottle of water, granola bar, chips, toothbrush, toothpaste, other snacks, hand warmers and a few other items I'm forgetting. We put one of each item into large zip lock baggies. One night it was just the girls and I and we drove around on the first really cold night here in town giving out kits to people we saw begging downtown. We had extra hand warmers and gave those out as well. After we made our Christmas cookies we drove around as a family, this time with small plates of cookies in addition to our homeless kits and once again handed them out.

These kind of things always feel a little sticky to me, especially writing about it. Service is great, but I know there is so much need on a year-round basis and a lot of people--like us--like to do "service projects" at Christmas time in an effort to show our kids the "true meaning of Christmas." And sometimes it feels like a teeny-tiny act of service where we give ourselves a giant pat on the back, call ourselves good and get on with life. Should I make an effort to do more service year round? Yes. And I do. Just not usually this kind of service.

Regardless I'm still glad we took the time to do this. Every single person we handed kits out to was grateful. We explained to the kids that we weren't doing anything life changing and handing out these kits didn't make us heros, but it was still a good thing to do. I hope the people we handed our cookies and hard warmers to felt lifted by the fact the a family was out there thinking of them and trying to brighten their day just a little--looking them in the eye, talking to them face-to-face and offering just a little something to help. I hope my girls felt not just gratitue for all that we have, but also a  stronger connection to humanity and our responsibility to look out for each other.  We've decided to try and keep these kits in our car throughout the year so we always have something on hand to give to others.

3. Zuzu's birthday and the Bouncy Castle
Since this litltle one's birthday is just 2 days before Christmas it's hard not to get it pulled into the festivities just a bit. It was such a sweet birthday--tender and achy for this mama watching her baby growing up, but so fun to celebrate our little caboose at the same time. She still has a fierce love for all things Mickey and loved her Mickey Cake, and her Mickey shoes. Now lets talk about that bouncy castle...
A couple days before her birthday I asked people on my Instagram stories about this bouncy castle I had purchased on sale at Target. I was super hesitant to get her something so BIG, but at the same time we try to spoil our kids on their birthday (a day that is all about them) as opposed to Christmas (a day that is not all about them... this is still a work in progress). I was really planning on taking it back, but so many people told me about how much they loved their bounce houses and what a great thing it has been and let me just say AMEN. Hallelujah. I freaking love this rainbow colored suburban monstrousity. Everyone loves this thing. We keep it in the unfinished basement and if you have the space for one of these bad boys I highly recommend it. We're just a little over a week in and it has already paid for itself in whine-free hours of active play. Yes, active indoor play. (It can be used outdoors as well.) This particular castle has a ball pit attached to the side (super small, but it works) and again the kids love it. No regrets on this baby and for once I can honestly say I'm glad I listened to the Internet. Thanks to everyone who chimed in.

4. Family Coziness and Togetherness Time
Zoo lights, Christmas tree shopping, fires in the fireplace, making stuff together, class parties and for the first time the girls watched It's a Wonderful Life with us. While they were a little bummed the movie was black and white, they really liked it which is a huge mom win. Holiday togetherness is a mixed bag of lazy, home body type stuff with outings and gatherings as well. A little bit of everything is my favorite. The biggest thing missing was snow. For our 3rd year in a row no white Christmas... it all feels a little more cozy when there's snow outside.


5. Christmas Eve + Christmas Morning
Is there anything better? I can't say we knocked it out of the park (we forgot to put cookies out the night before and told the kids "Look! Santa must have taken a bite!" and pointed to a random half-eaten cookie on the counter) but they don't really care. And I really don't care. Sitting around the table as a family eating a lovely meal by candlelight, waking up to a home full of presents and paper and squeals of delight, and living in the very heart of life and love and feeling it all right now.  That is the tender, meaty part of life and I'll suck the marrow out of that bone all day long.



Christmas 2016 was good, good stuff.
So much to be grateful for, but most of all my people.
And also the bouncy castle.

XO,
Miggy
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