Very grateful and still excited about our December celebration.
8 and 10 years are great ages to enjoy the Holidays. Last year we travelled to Europe and our vacation/family visit was mixed in with Christmas. It wasn't quiet or cozy as we moved to different locations, while jetlagged, mainly rushing and without the freedom of laying out every day as freely as back home. Just the usual for a family visit.
This year we stayed home. Thanksgiving kicked us off with a great potluck at the Unitarian congregration. Then we got to decorate the church sharing lunch together and making new friends. The kids started opening their Adventscalendars in excitement every morning. We also started an Adventscalendar where each day we where challenged to do a good deed. It was a wonderful addition to slow down our daily life. Marco and Tim took a trip to school camp together and Sarah and I had a couple of days to embrace in Mommy-daughter activities. We went thriftshop shopping, to the movies, read and baked together.
We started decorating our small plastic tree with colorful lights. We glued together Gingerbread houses that were very hard to keep upwards, but we managed. We baked a variety of cookies my Mom and my Grandma made. I also made chocolate truffles, which turned out great for going with 'cheap' baking chocolate instead of the really good stuff, I usually got in the years before. We hosted a nice Holiday party for the Office Junction with lots of yummy treats and happy guests.
I made several trips to Goodwill for gift shopping to stay within our tight budget and also to offer sustainable gifts. The first time Sarah picked a couple of baby outfits for her dollies. The second time I found some puzzles, a game and books. The third time I picked new outfits for the kids and found a great cast iron tea pot for Marco. The perfect gift as had great fun taking a tea ceremony workshop together this summer. Overall I spent way more money as planned, but way less than any previous years, with less regrets to giving in to consumerism and thoughtless giving.
The kids had a Holiday choir performance. Marco had a choir performance. We resisted to host another Holiday party and instead went to Seattle Center for dinner, Ice Skating and a Daft Punk Laser Show with friends. The next day we were invited to a Holiday party of friends but that evening Sarah feel sick with a bad cold and wanted to be held and leave, which we did a little earlier then planned. The next party we had to cancel as Sarah was way to sick. Just before Christmas I caught Sarah's cold and a day later Marco got it, too. So we had to keep it low from then on, which was still a challenge with work and all our traditions and Holiday preparation going on. I had a couple of moments where I rather wanted to crawl in bed instead of getting everything ready, but we made it for our annually Christmas Light scavenger hunt.
On Christmas Eve Tim played Ultimate Frisbee in the morning, then we went to see the movie 'Sing' together, Marco took them out for lunch and a brief stroll in the park, then the kids read the Christmas story and Tim and Marco played an Hawaiian Christmas song on the Ukulele at the Family service, we dropped of candied nuts at our friends house on the way home. At home we had a great Nordmann-Tanne in the living room replacing our third couch with wonderful lights and lots of gifts underneath. The kids were very excited. We sung some more songs, had Rostbratwuerstl and Kartoffelsalat and then started unwrapping presents.
We use reusable paper giftsbags and little felt bags for the last couple of years. The only things I had to buy new where photos for our Holiday mail, baking ingredients, candy and chocolates and some gifts for relatives and the gifts I was asked to get for the kids from relatives. It was really nice to barely have any plastic waste. Just a couple of Amazon boxes.
On the 25. we called all our family members and opened the gifts they sent. We skyped with Munich and Schongau, played and sung each other Christmas songs and shared what we did to celebrate. We made Schnitzel and Spaetzle and took a nap to help our weak bodies recover from the cold, while the kids watched some TV. Sarah wanted to take a bath in our new inflatable bathtub, but setting it up, a fitting at our bath sink broke and we had a minor leak which made us panic for a minute or two, til we shut off the main water. No celebration is perfect without a bit of drama. Once all was dry again we calmed our nerves with some more cookies.
The 26. I went to my Deep Listening group which was a nice way to reflect and get to enjoy what just happened. It's lots of excitement and activities leading up to Christmas. And once it hits, it's over so quickly. And often I don't even get to enjoy it as deeply as anticipated. I went to the office for some clean up which felt nice just to be by myself for a little bit tending to the ordinary. At home the kids had lots of opportunity to catch up on play time with friends. We assumed they were deprived from it by hanging out with us. In the evening we went Ice Skating in Bellevue which was not as fun as hoped. Marco felt too sick and the ice was terrible. The skates hurt. We had some Asian food nearby and went home to play some games downstairs. Tomorrow work needs tending. And the Holiday blizz is almost over. We might keep it up a couple more days to save it over to the New Year. Still being grateful everything worked out so great. Thankful for family, time together, harmony and traditions. Lots of traditions.
Optimistic, curious, human bee.