I can’t believe next week is Christmas! We’ve been counting down the days, and yet it still manages to surprise me. It can be sort of nice to stop and take stock of all the that’s been special about these anticipatory weeks—mostly involving these two cuties.
Here are some of the highlights around here, so far…
After a very wonderful, very white Thanksgiving in Sun Valley, Idaho, we got our first glimpse of the Sierras blanketed in snow. The Truckee River was breathtaking, and I’m really hoping we’ll get to go skiing this winter. (Last year we took Hudson up for a day lesson, but I bet he’d really love it this year.)
We got a tree on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, which felt early but I didn’t want to let any of the month of December pass without it.
We returned (with most of Davis, it seemed) to Silveyville in nearby Dixon, to the cut-your-own farm. Santa drove us around on his (mechanical) sleigh, and we sipped hot cider while watching the fascinating machine that shakes off all the loose needles.
We strung the lights right away, but saved the decorating for the first night of our advent calendar. Hudson was so excited this year, and Skyler was entralled by all the “balls.”
For my part, I could stare at those sweet those little cheeks forever.
Each day we open a door on the Advent calendar to find an activity and some M&Ms. Or, at least, that’s the plan. We may have forgotten a few times and fortunately the kids are prone to forget, too. It’s amazing, though, how important those one or two little chocolate candies can be. One night, Skyler got the red one Hudson wanted and…well… it didn’t go well.
Here’s a little bit about the experiences that tend to go into the advent calendar: Anything from “drink hot cocoa” to “watch The Grinch.”
From “string Christmas lights” to “walk in the Children’s parade to the tree lighting.”
My camera didn’t save any of the photos I took the night of the tree lighting (sigh), so this one is by Wayne Tilcock for the Davis newspaper. But it’s such a sweet little tradition where everyone meets at the local food co-op and walks to the central plaza holding candles and, in some cases, singing carols. There’s hot cocoa, carriage rides, free screenings of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas at the Varsity, and performances by the Cal Aggie marching band.
Another local highlight this year was that Hudson got to go to the Secret Store at the Davis Art Center for the first time. The Art Center hosts a holiday craft market for one weekend, and volunteers help children over the age of three pick out and wrap gifts to give. I gave Hudson $15 and tags for me, Aron, and Skyler, and he disappeared with a little wristband for about 15-20 minutes while I got to shop the holiday market myself. When he came out, that was his expression (above). I can’t wait to see what he chose. And I can’t believe he’s kept it a surprise.
Remember that sweet story about the package their babysitter sent to them? Skyler and Hudson love their holiday socks and antlers so much.
There have been holiday movies and popcorn, morning snuggles with holiday books, dogs in unfortunate headgear, and lots of questions about Santa.
And a few grown-up parties, too! (Most of these women are in the bookclub I mention from time-to-time, and you might remember that most of us were pregnant at my baby shower.)
As a result of all those babies, there were 21 kids over to roast S’mores this year. It was remarkably less chaotic than I expected!
The much messier affair is the Gingerbread-decorating party, and we were lucky enough to get invited to make two this year! I was so impressed by the set-up required!
First was the annual harp-and-beer party—remember this?—(though it was technically piano-and-beer this year). I love the tradition of singing carols and definitely want to make this a regular part of our family holiday, too.
Next was the annual Gingerbread gathering where Hudson made this beautiful house—that he was so proud of! I helped with the frosting, but he did everything else!
Breakfast with Santa at our local Odd Fellows Hall has become something we really look forward to. It’s such a sweet event: so many local businesses contribute to make it incredibly special for the kids. These photos are taken by Ernesto Sandoval who uploads them all for free. It must be so much work!
As I wrote, Hudson was completely enamored with Santa this year, and even brought him a card full of hearts to tell him how he loved him. Skyler wasn’t s sure about sitting with Santa, but she never got upset. It was more of a firm “no, thank you” kind of reaction. There are also carolers who meet you at the door, and Hudson sang all the “Twelve Days of Christmas” with them. He’s full of surprises.
Finally, this was our first time riding the Polar Express! (Though it was our third time trying.) Tickets for pre-bedtime trains go fast—like, within minutes—when they come up for sale in September. And we were far too naive about the demand the first year. Last year, we had tickets for a day that CalTrans was issuing storm warnings on the level of “stay home!” So we did.
But the third time was the charm.
The whole thing is very sweet. And perfect for that 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 year-old age especially, I think.
Perhaps my favorite part, however, may have been the anticipation. Before we left, there was so much excitement over which pajamas to wear—leading, of course, to their both wearing red ones with fuzzy slippers (Skyler in Hudson’s old pairs on both accounts). And Hudson loved that red robe. The excitement in his voice about going to the North Pole—seeing where Santa lives—was infectious.
There were a lot of happy faces.
When we got off the train in Old Sac, we were just in time for the Festival of Lights—which Hudson remembered from last year, and loved.
Christmas, here we come! Hope everyone is enjoying happy holidays!
P.S. Last year’s first-half-of-the-holiday post. Thank you for indulging me; I love looking back at these posts.