Monday, January 5, 2015

Christmas Wrap Up and Happy 2015

My first holidays without my mother have come and gone and I feel a secret sigh of relief. We hurt and cried, but we survived and even had moments where we actually enjoyed these difficult holidays. One thing I learned about surviving your first holidays after a death (and still in the midst of grieving) is the importance of continuing traditions and bringing a few new ones to the table. It's so important to keep living! I hosted Christmas Eve and Christmas Day complete with our annual gingerbread making contest. The holidays are both sad and happy, but I'm hoping that as each year passes, it will be less sad and mostly just happy.

Here's a few pictures of our Holidays:

Three very excited little ones waiting to see Santa! 
We made it to see Santa the Saturday before Christmas. Miraculously, there was almost no line.
 I know people have various opinions on the Santa debate. We choose to spend the majority of our season talking about the birth of Christ, but we still enjoy a little magic of Santa. Santa does not generally bring our children lavish gifts. In fact, they are only allowed to ask for one sensible gift and any other requests are made to mommy and daddy. Luckily, our children have never presented us with some long list of demands...yet. 
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at our church: My absolute favorite tradition

 Here are a few pictures of my pretty table scape. I think it is quite lovely if I do say so myself. One of my New Year's resolutions is to use our fine china more often: to stop saving all our "special dishes" or even "special outfits" for that matter. If there is one thing I've learned in 2014 is that life is so very short. Every day that you wake up is a special occasion!

Complete with fresh garland and pine cones

Mommy's travel tree complete with an Eiffel Tower tree topper. The children had a live tree in the family room with their colored lights and homemade decor. But this tree is ALL MINE!
Andrew and I bought these Christmas dishes 12 years ago when we first got married. They are by Mikasa and called "Holiday Traditions". I just love them so much! I even pulled out the real crystal...because life is too short to eat on paper plates and drink out of red solo cups. 

 The garland on my table has a very sweet story that I have already shared with a few of you. I went to Home Depot two days before Christmas and asked a man if he had any tree scraps I could have. I explained I just needed a few to put on my table and mantel and didn't mind going through the trash. He asked me to follow him, which I did. After a couple minutes, he presents me with an actual Christmas tree. He said "this is my Christmas present to you. You don't need to go through the trash." I was a little confused at first and said "Are you serious? You're giving me this for free?" He replied that it wasn't a big deal because they were just going to throw them away and again said "this is my Christmas present to you." At this point, I have major tears in my eyes and told him he'll never know how much this meant to me. I told him it was my first Christmas without my mom and I had a child throwing up at home and I just wanted my house to look a little more festive. That act of kindness and the beauty the limbs made to my table and mantel were just what I needed: hope...a little bit of hope that there is still good in this world. You never know what little or big acts of kindness mean to someone.

Something new I did this year with the children was read the Christmas story out of the Jesus Storybook Bible in the morning. We've always read this in the past during the season, but this time I read it right before we opened gifts. Afterwards, we thanked The Lord for His many blessings He has given us this year. We also prayed that we would all have thankful hearts as we opened our gifts and that we would remember that this was a celebration of the birth of Jesus. This will definitely be a tradition we continue each year. I think it really did help them have good attitudes on Christmas morning.

Praying before opening gifts.

 New Years Eve, we headed to my dad's house to spend the night and celebrate the new year with him and my sisters family. We stayed up until almost 1am playing board games (just the adults and my sisters older kids of course). The next day we ate our black eyed peas and pork for good luck. Here's our attempt at our first family photo of 2015. Jacob has the 2, Ella the 0, Audrey the 1, and me the 5.

Happy 2015! Andrew wearing his Georgia Tech shirt with pride! Go Jackets!

A New Year and the fresh start it brings has brought a little happiness to my heart and hope for a better year. Happy New Year to you all! May it be a year of living life to the fullest.

And in case you were wondering...less than 3 months until Paris! Le sigh...