Wednesday, December 30, 2009

december's ending

I did want to make a few more notes of Christmas before the year completely gets away from us...

I was quite unhappy that Christmas came so quickly this year. I mean, I know it does -and moreso- each year, but this year I was so disappointed in our preparations for it that it just made me really sad.

We had done the majority of our Christmas shopping and crafting before and around Thanksgiving while in Oregon. We managed to get all of our gifts for all of our families done there, to wrap and leave while we were there, ready for the Christmas holiday. Perfect plan; shopping in Oregon= no sales tax(!!) and getting it all done there= no shipping from our house! So we did it and we were set. I was so excited to have it all done so early and out of the way... that's 90% of our Christmas gifts and preparation. All we had left to do was a handful of gifts for the kids and some crafty stuff for neighbors and teachers and the like back home.

I was so looking forward to a relaxing December with plenty of time for catching up on things at home and having fun with our last little list of Christmas projects and gifts, lots of baking and creating and fun! Oh and a couple of parties. :)

Alas, that was not our December to be.
Ryan had essentially four job offers in the three weeks before Christmas. Which is great in theory... except that all these offers were out of state and require oh a weeee bit of actual consideration and prayer and possible life changing decision making.
I've obviously already mentioned the NorthEast option and the fact that we felt we needed to take the pre-decision trip that was offered. So that was a whirlwind of a last minute trip after what felt like just getting back from our two week vacation. Not to mention all the legwork that goes along with a prospective cross country move; researching communities and house prices and looking at houses and schools and what the area has to offer and whether it might be a good fit for our family.

Here I was all excited to be back in my regular blogging habits after the NaBloPoMo of November, but yet looking back, I only had ten posts here in the month of December.
All of my time on the computer was spent elsewhere... all over the country to be exact.
We're slated to physically take another trip to another state as well in the next week or two, so I feel I've been online overtime again... only mostly looking into all the aspects of that area, not the blogging, facebooking and photo editing I want to be doing.

All that to say, December completely slipped away from me. And I hate that because I love December. I love everything about getting ready for Christmas and I hate that I feel so much of that was left out around here. Sure we got (most of) our decorations up and we did manage to read a book from our Christmas basket together as a family most nights before bed and we did crank out one batch of (refrigerator dough) decorated Christmas cookies (that we had to do for an exchange party) and I did manage to get Christmas card greetings out (the week of Christmas), but that, my friends, is about it.
I had big plans for a great season of Christmas preparation and almost none of it happened. And if anyone knows me, you know that kills me.

I didn't do any sort of advent activity with my kids, we never made Christmas sugar cookies to decorate, or even my favorites, we didn't make the teacher gifts I had in mind for the kids (we gave BeadforLife bracelets instead, which were perfect!), we didn't invite any friends over for dinner, we didn't make the all the ornament neighbor/extra friend gifts we bought supplies for, we didn't do a neighborhood progressive dinner this year, we didn't go to any Christmas shows or see the Zoo lights... we didn't even make a simple Christmas countdown chain like every year. We didn't even once take the time to just sit in the living room together with just candles and tree lights with Christmas music on. I didn't get a gift for my husband and I forgot half the things I wanted to have in the kids' stockings. We never made our traditional Christmas donuts this year.
Our house was a wreck, we had kid school stuff to do, normal life to live, my mind was cluttered and my heart was just not on Christmas this year.
And that makes me sad. I feel like I missed it.

I have thanked the Lord though for His timing... although obviously I'd have liked all of this to be AFTER Christmas, at least He gave me the foresight to have all our long distance gifts done ahead of time... if we hadn't been in Oregon or thought to have our Christmas prep done there ahead of time, I would have gone crazy trying to get last minute shopping and shipping done in the midst of our December. Everyone would have ended up with gift cards or I would have just lost it and said no gifts this year. Which is crazy talk coming from me... I LOVE the giving gifts; it pains me to give no gifts gift cards because I just love the hunt and the thought and the everything put into giving personal gifts for loved ones.
Anyway. At least I didn't have that on my plate as well. God knows what I can handle.

But I missed having a real December this year. I'm dreading taking down our tree and decorations next week because I don't want it to be over.
I loved our Christmas Day... I loved slowing down and being together as a family and not doing anything else but be together. Not worrying, not deciding, not house hunting, not wondering. Just enjoying.
And it's almost time to put it all away and get back to normal life.

Before I do that, I did want to share a couple of things we did get done this year...
our favorite (and almost only!) homemade gifts we did these last couple of weeks:

The kids made these books (too many if you ask them) for their little baby cousins and for Caleb and Evan this year. I love them and I know the kids are so proud of them! They're double strength cardstock and laminated so hopefully they'll be actual books that can withstand toddlers!

Here's a sampling of the pages... some were illustrated by Savannah and some by Sawyer. Can you guess who's are who's??

Also, I made these photo plaques for Jen, the mom that I babysit for. I had grandiose ideas of doing a whole secret "photo shoot" with Caleb and then presenting his parents with a whole disc of great images and to print up a couple of especially great ones or have one nicely framed to go along with it. Well, between us being gone and other stuff going on, that never happened. I did manage to squeeze in a quick "session" one afternoon and got a couple of good shots out of it. And instead of just framing it, I decided to do this:

I thought they turned out wonderfully. It's just the photo and matching paper modge-podged on a piece of painted wood with some ribbon and embellishment. I modge podged over the top of the picture and gave it some texture so the photo actually looks almost like canvas. It cost me all of about $2!
Jen actually teared up when she saw the pictures and said it was the best gift she had ever received :)

I may or may not be making more of these for next Christmas!!

I'm seriously thinking about trying for an entirely handmade Christmas gifting next year. The kids made all of their aunts and grandmas gifts this year and they enjoyed it so much. And the gifts I made were my favorites as well.
We all received a few handmades as well and they definitely stood out... it just feels so much more personal; and it's usually simpler and that's nice! Sawyer's aunt sent him a basic wooden box that she painted for him to house his matchbox cars and it's one of his most treasured gifts. I love the simplicity and the practicality of it and I'm thinking I might want to get creative and stay on those lines next year for all our gifts. Really, most of it's not hard, it'll just take planning. Maybe I'll start in June.... :)


Katie said...

Wow Heather, what a great gift you made for Caleb's Mom, I would have teared up too....I'm gonna have to try those, it's something I think I could actually make!:)

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