We ate cherry cheesecake this year. Somehow that feels significant – in a world that feels slightly (completely?) topsy-turvy. Some things stayed constant and for that I am grateful!
I’ve been honest lately about how “heavy” things have felt – and while Christmas was absolutely lovely and we are blessed so richly, it did still feel especially tiring. Between recent insomnia, the near-daily changes to COVID regulations, and all the things to do/remember/prepare over Christmas, while I didn’t feel “grinchy” – I did feel exhausted much of the time. Just keeping it real…
I’m going to break up our Christmas recap into a few different posts (food and gifts to come later in the week), but here is an overview of the holiday weekend.
My parents arrived Christmas Eve, Eve and the kids were thrilled!! I especially appreciated the fact my Mom could enjoy our Christmas tree – always a holiday favourite for her (and she and my Dad don’t bother doing a tree since they’re home alone). The evening they arrived I took my Mom (and the kids) on a tour of our favourite holiday lights in the area. We sang Christmas carols while driving down main streets and through subdivisions and it was a lot of fun. The adults capped off the day with a Hallmark movie.
Christmas Eve was a beautiful day! It was FREEZING (cold and windy) but sunny so we drove out to some local coastal sites and braved the temperatures long enough to snap a few pictures and appreciate the natural beauty of our corner of the world.
Our Christmas Eve service at church had very limited capacity and only one person was allowed to sing on stage at a time. Instead of candles, we got glow sticks to crack and wave during the final song – Silent Night, one of my favourite hymns. It was very different, but lovely nonetheless.
We came home and had supper and played another round of Just One, which was just as much fun the second time around; even my Dad, who loathes games, seemed to enjoy himself.
Then we moved to the living room and my Mom played her autoharp and we sang Christmas carols. These are the sorts of moments John calls my Norman Rockwell Christmas experience. Growing up we always gathered around the tree Christmas Eve to sing carols, finishing with Silver Bells. When I was young we also shook ALL the gifts Christmas Eve, a tradition I haven’t dared to allow my very enthusiastic kids to carry forward!
While the adults sang (and Abby played her ukulele for Oh Holy Night), Levi sat on the floor and systematically dismantled a cardboard box with a butter knife. It was probably one of his favourite experiences Christmas Eve because the next event was our traditional ornament opening…
Levi was the first to unwrap his new ornament and was very happy with his blown glass baseball. I bought it last year in a post-Christmas sale when he was still very interested in baseball. It no longer felt like quite the right fit since he has since turned all of his attention to soccer, but I figured he’d still appreciate the sporting element. Because it looked like a baseball, he handled it like a baseball – in other words, quite firmly. I thought it best to get it on the tree before disaster struck and asked him to pose with it so I could get a picture. As I was taking a picture the string slipped through his fingers and the ornament smashed into a million pieces. Cue the tears. Thankfully I had another ornament in my reserve stash of gifts, which I quickly wrapped up. I told him this will likely end up being a special memory – “Remember the year you were 7 and your ornament smashed all over the floor?” Sort of like I can now ask: “Remember the Christmas the pipe broke and all the wrapped Christmas gifts got flooded?!” Memories we’d rather not have, but if we have to experience them…might as well turn them into a piece of family history.
Levi woke up at 4 am on Christmas Day feeling nauseous. Thankfully (?) I had already woken up (we were having a crazy wind storm). He perked up as the day progressed but it definitely ratcheted up my stress levels. He ended up falling back to sleep eventually, so we didn’t end up starting gifts until almost 8 am. Abby was very patient and understanding, bless her.
My father-in-law read the Christmas story from Luke 2 before we dove into our stockings which were a perfect blend of practical and fun – art supplies, socks, scrunchies, edible treats. We cleared up all the wrapping paper and other festive debris before having a leisurely breakfast.
The next step was opening the main gifts under the tree – we have some creative ways to extend the opening experience. Levi found this all a bit tedious and ended up watching soccer highlights on my phone while the adults + Abby indulged in prolonging the fun as long as possible. Every few minutes he would pop back in to open a gift. I’ll write more about our fun hacks in a later post!
My brother and sister-in-law FaceTimed from Denmark just before lunch and I chatted for a while and then put away most of the gifts (everything needs to have a place!) and organized all the gift bags, tissue paper, and other paraphernalia that was salvageable for another year.
The rest of Christmas was relatively relaxed; I’d not gotten enough sleep, so may have fit in a short nap? I honestly can’t remember! We put supper into the slow cooker and headed to the beach to get some fresh air. We explored frozen waterfalls, watched crashing waves, and wandered around some colourful concrete cottages. After we came home and has supper, we played some games and ate and talked…and then I clocked out for the day. I was absolutely exhausted!
Yesterday, “Boxing Day” in Canada, was church (the kids + John stayed home since Levi had been not feeling 100%). We had our main Christmas feast for lunch – turkey and all the fixings, plus cherry cheesecake. I played some outdoor soccer with Levi, finished off a bag of Twizzlers, and played many many games of Crokinole and Codenames (both great Christmas gifts received this year, stay tuned for more details)!
My father-in-law heads home this evening, my parents a bit later in the week, and just like that another Christmas is in the books. Lots of great memories, but I’m glad for the hectic pace and all the coordinating to be done. I bought three giant rolls of wrapping paper in post-Christmas sales, have all my Christmas cards stocked for next year, and bought four new ornaments for my stash. If this year taught me anything, it’s that I should always have some spare ornaments in reserve!
I’ll admit I’m not feeling ready for the new year yet, so I’m glad for another week to ease out of 2021 and prepare for 2022!
What about your Christmas? Any fun highlights (or lowlights) to report?