Thursday, December 31, 2015

Holiday Wrap-Up: The Merriest and Brightest

Christmas was here and gone, like a whirlwind. The wrapping paper remnants and boxes are overfilling the trash bin, tinsel is scattered throughout the house like glittering dust bunnies, brightly colored cookies have turned stale on the counter, and Jingles, our Elf, has left the building.

And I am exhausted.

And happy to the core of my being. This Christmas felt like the Merriest and the Brightest ... though each one feels that way. One just keeps topping the next, but I suppose that's what happens when you appreciate your amazing (though far from perfect) life with the people you are blessed to have in it. 

This Christmas was a little different in a few ways. One, it was super warm. Like, record breaking warm. It was rainy too, which made it muggy. We turned on the air conditioning at my brother-in-law's house during our Christmas Eve get together. While many parts of the world celebrate a green Christmas, I haven't seen one this mild in the NorthEast EVer. 

The other difference was that CB was with us for Christmas Eve and Day. We rotate years with her dad so last year, she was in Maryland. This year, CB was here... and Cancer was gone. 

We also had a new little itty bitty baby — my nephew!! YAY! 
I love babies. LOVE THEM!
Before I end up confessing that I want another one, let's move on. 

Many of my neices and nephews are now teens and young adults. So, Christmas gatherings look less "kiddie" and more "teeny" if that makes sense. I think this photo speaks to this point. 

They are great kids and I love getting to know the people they have become. They are smart, kind, funny, generous, loving and still... kids at heart.

The old guy included. 

After spending Christmas Eve with Dr. Fab's side of the family, we were still able to make it home to enjoy our family traditions... setting out cookies, hanging our stockings, and reading two vintage Christmas books that my parents read to me and my sisters and brothers when we were small. These books are totally falling apart, but they are awesome. And my kids love them as much as I did.

This year, Rella asked to read The Night Before Christmas. They're getting so big it makes me tear up. 

Pink started her own new tradition after her Religious Ed teacher (otherwise known among Catholics as CCD) told them about it. She made a box that said "Happy Birthday Jesus" and then filled it with little slips of paper as she wrote down the kind things she did in the days leading up to Christmas. Then, she left it under the tree on the Eve of Jesus's birthday, without fanfare. I thought it was so sweet and a good reminder of what the season is all about.

As our family attempts to do every year, we looked for ways to give back during December. We donated a Christmas tree with all the lights and trimmings to a family in need who couldn't afford one. We made shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child and we sorted donated toys at our church and at a local non-profit. We made several toy donations to different organizations like hospitals and shelters and sent a Christmas card to a girl named Safyre who was horrifically burned in a fire that took the lives of her entire family. 

These things were very small, but they served as touchstones for the girls as they bounded through a time of year where they are slathered with gifts, food, and love. It's my job to allow them to have an AMAZING Christmas and spoil them a little bit... just let them be happy kids. But, it's also my job to keep them grounded, keep them aware, help them understand that they can do a little something in this world to make a tiny corner of it a better place for someone else. 

I stayed up until after 1:00 am, as usual, and the kids were up at 5:00 am. Or, should I say Rella was up at 5:00. This was a huge improvement to the 3:15 am waking last year. They opened their stockings while we waited for CB to rise. I wasn't going to disturb that poor child so early! It also gave me time to get our big breakfast buffet started. When they all were ready to come downstairs and see what Santa left, it was still dark outside. I love that excitement. LOVE it.

Santa leaves a little "rope" across the staircase so no little children can sneak down too soon. Then Dr. Fabulous and I count them down and they make a mad dash into the family room!

I love that Pink stayed with CB to help her down the stairs. This girl is a freakin' angel, I tell you.

Tink's favorite gifts were her new hot pink glittery guitar...

Her "Itty Bitty's" which are a thing. They're at Hallmark. They're tiny stuffed animals. I don't get it. Whatev. 

And, of course, every year she asks Santa for Holiday Barbie.

CB got a stocking full of Cheez-Its and beads, so she was occupied for fifteen minutes until she went upstairs to take a nap. Christmas is exhausting like that.

Our crafty, creative girl Pink loved her cookbooks and art gifts.

She received a gummy bear maker which included this giant mold for a collassal gummy bear. It looks black, but it was really a rainbow of colors layered together, with blue on top. It took the whole family three days to eat it.

Rella's favorite was her long-adored cotton candy machine...

... and a drum set. She asked Santa for a real one, but us parental units forbade it. Santa in his infinite good humor brought her a tiny one and she thought that was quite clever.

Later in the day, CB was coerced back to the tree where her sisters helped her unwrap oodles of clothes.

Then everyone lounged around all low key, playing with stuff and I might have fallen asleep on the couch two or three times.

We had an improptu neighborhood get together which we picked up again on Sunday and just spent a lot of time hanging out and enjoying the aftermath of the Merriest and Brightest time of year.

That's a wrap. Or an unwrap. That's what we call an Awesome Christmas 'round here. Hope your holidays were the Merriest and Brightest too.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up: Par-Tay!

Well, it was another full and exciting weekend of partying it up! The weekend before Christmas is chock full of out-of-town family parties and our clan was representing in full holiday spirit!

Notice Tink's Santa hat. It has not left her head since December 3rd. I'm not kidding. 

I was super excited to get two very rare full family photos this year — one at each party. Of course, I didn't have said photos in enough time to use on a Holiday card. So my card is some crazy a** photo of my four girls making goofy faces and rabbit ears over each other's heads from the Autism Walk two years ago. Yeah, it was that kind of frustrating card year.

Our card was a horror show, but we coordinated pretty nicely for THIS party!

The girls are getting so big, but the Christmas magic is mostly still alive over here. Pink is playing it a little "chill" this holiday. Her big wish items ain't happening (an iphone) but I think she will be fine with it.

Tink is always happy. Always. So, Christmas is no exception. She wants for nothing but these Itty Bitty stuffed animals at the Hallmark store, Shopkins, and World Peace. Those were the three items on her list. The only three.

Rella, on the other hand, had a list the size of the Empire State Building. She might have asked for the Empire State Building for all I know. She asked for a dog (AGAIN, ain't happening) and a drum set (Hellz No!) and circled literally every thing in the Toys R Us catalog. Every. Thing.

CB wants for little. She's a low maintenance type girl. My wish list for her, on the other hand, could build a bridge to the moon.

Santa took time out of his busy schedule to visit at the one party. The three little ones asked him politely  for a few things and received a small gift.

Notice CB sitting in the very back... red sweater. Loved it. 

At 20, CB doesn't go up and sit with Santa anymore, but she did when she was younger and Santa certainly remembers her. He was always very patient and kind. Santa is like that, ya know.

I enjoyed watching her sit on the fringes of the action, stimming away in her own world but present in the mix. 

This December is a particularly memorable time for me as it marks one year since my diagnosis of Breast Cancer. Last December 14th, I received the phone call from my doctor telling me the "not so awesome news." It was 11 days before Christmas, and a complete shock. This year, I not only have my treatment behind me, but another fantastic year in front of me. I'll let you know more about what's in store for me in 2016 a little later.

Anyway, I'm not sure I'm going to post much this week, so I'll just go ahead and say it now:
Happy Holidays from our family to yours!! Enjoy your loved ones, enjoy the season!

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