Happy New Year! Holiday Recap

We’re coming back down the mountain today—or at least that’s the plan. Currently, we’re sitting in a line of cars as the snow falls around us, and we wait for Interstate-80 to reopen. It’s a dramatic conclusion to a very full two-week holiday break with the kids.

Update: We’ve now successfully made it home. We drove for about 5 hours on Sunday and only made it 16 miles, so we finally turned around and returned to the cabin to overnight there until the interstate reopened Monday morning. In hindsight, it would have been better to stay put, but Aron had operations scheduled and it’s terrible have to cancel those.

I’m feeling ready to get a fresh start on the New Year—clean house, clean food, and all that! I don’t want to lose the energy that comes with the calendar change. But before moving onto new things, here’s a look back…

Christmas was full of family, treats, and toys!

The week before the holiday, I went to Hudson’s classroom and helped them make snowmen out of fruit and cereal, and Skyler and I went to a cookie decorating get together with some of her preschool pals.

We met Aron in Sacramento after work and looked at all of the Christmas lights in a stately neighborhood called the Fab ’40s (think Lady Bird and Ronald Reagan). People ride bicycles and horse-drawn carriages to look at all of the displays, and our kids always go crazy over the house with all of the cartoon characters.

We counted up the change in the Jingle Jar, matched it, and the kids used the money to buy a flock of chicks through Heifer International!

And we lit fires in the fireplace, and ignited some special Christmas decorations—like a favorite pyramid spinner and smoker from Germany. We also introduced a new movie into the holiday selection: Little Women. I tried not to cry too much.

Aron and I suited up for a friend’s annual holiday party. And I dressed down for a pajama party with some girlfriends.

Meanwhile, Skyler spent lots of time in her Elsa dress.

On the weekend before Christmas, we all went to grandma’s and grandpa’s house to decorate the Bruhn family traditional ginger-lemon form cookies. They are so delicious!

Finally, one of the last advent activities was to go to Sacramento, and see the Nutcracker—with a live orchestra. We all got dressed up, and took ourselves out for pizza and the ballet. It was a highlight for me. I remember being taken to the Nutcracker as a child—getting dressed up in tights and too-easily-scuffed patent leather shoes and watching the tree appear to grow onstage—and it felt so special to hear that music and watch the dancers twirl in the snow to delight of my own children!

The holidays themselves were celebrated with our parents and family-friends—we feel so lucky to live in the same town as both mine and Aron’s. (It also means double stockings!) Of course we missed much of our extended family around the country, and wished Aron’s sister and her children were closer.

A few nice touches I’d like to remember from this year: There were 17 of us at Christmas dinner and we each recited one line from Twas the Night Before Christmas before sitting down to dinner; We all donned paper hats and shared jokes from the Christmas crackers; and We played a game of Truth or Lie and learned interesting stories from everyone’s past!

On Christmas eve, the children wrote one last note to Santa and left it out with cookies and carrots.

From Skyler: “Dear Santa I hope you like these Love [heart] Skyler” with her wonderfully scroll-like S.

From Hudson: “¡Merry ¿Can you wake me up right now? I really want to meet you at night. Can you put a stocking present in my room under my bed? ¡I love you Santa Claus! I won’t tell anyone that I saw you. Love Hudson Door with a [heart] on it.” And he taped a paper with a heart on his door. We basically melted every time we passed by.

As for their wishlists, Santa brought Skyler the music jewelry box she asked for—with a ballerina inside who spins—and Hudson got a “real-action baseball game,” which is a little like a pinball game with a pitcher and outfielders.

Some other favorite gifts at this age: Bey blades, marble runs, candy, Hot Wheels tracks, and lots of books! Hudson requested The Last Kids on Earth series and we added the first illustrated Harry Potter (he read it himself!) and the second paperback. Skyler got some beautiful illustrated books, like The Amazing Animal Adventure and A Year Full of Stories from around the world.

What gifts were the biggest hits in your house?

We stayed in our pajamas as long as possible and just made it out in time for family dinner at Aron’s parents’ house.

The days in between Christmas and New Year’s are a bit of a blur. The kids and I were on our own, while Aron went back to work, but I ended up signing them up for some time at a gymnastics camp, and spent the entire day cleaning out my closet!

On New Year’s Eve, we celebrated early with the kids. I took them out to donuts while Aron was at work, and then we all watched a previous Times Square Ball Drop together before they had a sleepover with grandparents.

They also went shopping with me and picked out a sparkly romper, while wishing every passerby a Happy New Year!

We had a party at our house on New Year’s Eve. We’ve hosted friends for dinner the past few years, and it’s always fun to get dressed up, play a game, and toast with plenty of champagne. I had some sort of allergic reaction just before midnight and thought I wasn’t going to make it to 12, but Aron helped me make a quick recovery.

We were lucky to sleep in the following day, and then the four of us went to see the new Mary Poppins movie. It was wonderful! We’ve been singing it since. Skyler wore her Elsa dress to the theatre, and clutched her stuffed dog Windy, and Hudson brought his current favorite stuffy, “Tasmanium,” and wore some soft felt gloves, and I just remember looking over at them and thinking how lucky I am and how fantastic these years are.

It inspired us to watch the original Mary Poppins again this past week, and the messages about holding onto child-like joy and being a present parent really stood out in a new way. When Bert sings “You’ve got to grind, grind, grind at that grindstone…” to Mr. Banks… oh, I just about lost it!

Finally, this past week, we drove up to Lake Tahoe and had been up there since!

We got in some good ski days at Homewood, played lots of rounds of Code Names with friends, went sledding at Granlibakken snow park, and then probably pushed our luck a bit in terms of the storm. We should have left sooner, but Hudson and Aron fit in one more half-day of skiing, and by the time they got off the mountain, CalTrans was closing the interstate. The rest is…

Now it’s time to flip that page on the calendar, and clear the decks for a brand new year! What are you looking forward to?

Happy New Year!

P.S. The first half of the holidays

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