These days leading up to Christmas have been an odd mix—the magic of these two little children in our home and the sadness that tinges every thought about the world beyond. But if watching the news these past weeks (years!) has shown me anything, it’s that I should hold onto these precious moments and these precious loves tightly and appreciate the pure joy these two have about their (very lucky) lives. The kids are both so wide-eyed about Santa Claus, and they love singing Christmas songs and looking at holiday lights. “Kiss-mas lights!” Skyler calls out every evening as we drive through town.
They have school right up until Christmas eve this year (the 23rd is the last day in our district), so it feels especially nice to look back and appreciate all that’s already happened.
So thank you for indulging me; I love looking back at these posts! Here are some of the highlights, so far…
The season tends to begin with our downtown tree lighting: first, everyone gathers a few blocks away for a childrens’ parade downtown, behind the University marching band and some firetrucks. Once there, you can take carriage rides, watch showings of The Grinch for free at The Varsity, or catch a small (always too quiet to actually hear) holiday program.
We open the advent calendar each day to find out what’s in store. Without our ever saying so, Hudson seems to ascribe some magic to the calendar. “Is that what the calendar told you?” he asked one day when I said we had to wait until dad came home.
I loved hearing Skyler’s remark about it to her grandma one afternoon: “we do it by ourselves!”
Often it tells us to watch holiday movies. Favorites of ours are: The Snowman (wordless and so lovely), The Grinch, Rudolph, and The Polar Express (though I prefer the book to the movie). This year we also watched the new The Snowy Day. We’re holding off on some of my favorites—like The Elf and Miracle on 34th Street, for a few more years.
The box of holiday books and these holiday shows are only allowed between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
They’re getting so big!
Picking out the tree is always a highlight. Hudson was thrilled to help tie it to the roof of the car. We’ve been going to a local farm the past few years—where they have a Santa’s sleigh ride, and free popcorn and apple cider.
It was pretty warm on the afternoon we decorated our tree, so we pulled out the ornaments and lit a TV fire.
It’s so nice to pull out those special ornaments and decorations and say hello again.
We got our copies of Sunset magazine—with us inside! I’m going to make that Yule Log Layer Cake for Christmas dinner this year.
There were some fun evenings with friends—like our annual bookclub holiday party (with two new babies and a few on the way)…
There’s been lots of good food…
…and Aron and I had a date in the city for some holiday shopping.
I was treated to a first-ever children’s school program, when Hudson’s kindergarten class held a winter party full of songs and poems (and a little dancing)—all in Spanish! I was so proud! Each student had wrapped up a calendar they’d made with all of their best art. We’ll treasure it forever.
He also picked out gifts that have miraculously remained surprises in the art center Secret Santa Store for the second year. Kids go in with a volunteer helper and some money to shop and wrap up gifts for family or friends—no parents allowed. It usually means about 15 minutes of uninterrupted time for grownups to shop the rest of the craft fair! Very clever. Every pop-up market should do this!
We joined friends for a small-town tractor parade—the 2nd annual—in Winters, California. One tractor carried the hot-air-balloon bases that are used for aerial tours of our region’s beautiful farmlands. So cool!
One night we took the kids to Old Sacrmento to catch The Polar Express—they read the story, serve Hot Chocolate, and journey to the North Pole to “Santa’s workshop.” It was pretty awesome to see their faces light up.
Then Santa gets on board and gives out “the first gift of Christmas,” a sleigh bell.
Skyler was super excited—and they both were wiggling out of control to fight their sleepiness.
One morning was set aside for decorating (and eating) Grandma’s delicious form cookies. Hudson is laughing so hard at his own joke—the train cookie is driving into his mouth!—and Skyler is channeling the angel in her own little puffy pink dress that she has taken to wanting to wear as often as possible.
And we caught a little buddy in the Davis Nutcracker—my first time seeing this 40-year-tradition. (A hot ticket, it sells out in a few hours every year.)
Finally, a favorite tradition (that I almost missed getting tickets for—eek!), we had breakfast with the Santa Claus.
Happy holidays, everyone! Hold each other tight!