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Christmas is not the day. It’s the whole month for me. I love every second of counting down to Christmas. I especially love watching my kids lose their minds with excitement.

This year was different. I felt like I was watching everything behind glass. Somehow I could not fully jump into the Christmas Spirit. My kids were so excited and despite being with them physically, I wasn’t there mentally. There were legitimate reasons why I didn’t care more. Even then I feel guilty about it. I want to believe they still had fun with the activities we did do.

We did a lot of activities for the first time this year. One was attending the Youth Bell Choir Performance at our church. In the past I haven’t wanted to. I always thought the kids were too young to sit through more church. More than anything I didn’t want to deal with the crowds. Even when I’m in a good mood Sundays can be long and draining with all the people.

The Bishop had several interviews that required Heath’s presence. So we had an early dinner and practically had our pick of seats. The boys brought their Kindles to play on. Gwen drew pictures in a notebook. I sat and listened to the youth practice. We arrived about 90 minutes before show time! The kids put everything away when the performance started. They were good but I don’t think they loved the performance. Parker really wanted to go home. He melted down pretty quickly when afterwards we chatted with our neighbors that we had invited.

I thought it was a really nice show and I’m glad we went. I’m especially grateful we got there as early as we did. The room filled up gradually enough that I didn’t feel overwhelmed. Heath was really hoping that would happen.

The last week of school was brutal. School was not the problem. There were days I was desperate for Friday. All I wanted was my kids home. Heath took some time off of work too and I couldn’t wait to just have my family home. I didn’t care if we ever did anything. I just needed them home. We enjoyed our time together over the weekend and by the time Primary was over on Sunday I felt like I could finally breathe again.

On a whim Heath bought a box of marzipan. He did it because Gwen was shopping with us and Marzipan is her favorite Home Star Runner character. My eyes lit up as memories washed over me. Marzipan is my favorite treat. I remember so many Christmases with sculpted marzipan treats in my stocking. The “candy” is a lot like me – German and nutty. I love it!

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The kids could not wait to play with it. I told them it was like Play-do you can eat. We put out a couple rolls of butcher paper, gave the kids paper plates and a thick slice of Marzipan, then told them to have fun.

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Gavin and Parker wasted no time with the creative process. Gwen seemed a little more apprehensive at first. She had filled a notebook page with marzipan instructions ahead of time, and brought it to the table.

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Parker kept building different creations and eating little bits of each one until he was out of marzipan. Gwen also ate up all of hers in the course of an hour playing with it. Gavin was the only one who didn’t finish eating his. They all had a lot of fun playing with it though.

It wasn’t quite the activity I had envisioned. I had hopes and dreams of the kids connecting with their German heritage. I didn’t really share any stories other than saying I usually had marzipan in my Christmas stocking.

The almond flavor also reminded me of my Grandma’s Christmas sugar cookies. When I finally had the time to make the cookies I was no longer inspired to do so. One day I will ask for the recipe though. Almond extract trumps vanilla extract in sugar cookies any day!

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At some point we finally found the time to get a family portrait in for Christmas cards. In the end we only had time to email it out to a handful of people. Heath and I meant to turn it into a card to mail out. And there just was not enough time. Yet again my family has no school pictures of my kids. I’m thinking Groundhog Day cards this year. One email bounced back since that person no longer has that email account. That was a little frustrating. Many aspects of this month were very frustrating. After a while I had to let it all go. I’m not Superwoman. My cape is still at the cleaners.

It took us a long time to get out to see the lights this year. We did start the adventure at Starbucks for some hot chocolate and caramel apple spice. Heath drove through the neighborhoods near the elementary school. Then we drove through some of the richer neighborhoods on the way to the church. I needed to deliver some banana bread to a couple who both work in the Primary and didn’t get a loaf on Sunday.

Heath turned into a neighborhood by the church and we found an amazing house. This guy goes all out on his light display. He’s won awards and is part of a website for similar homes. My friend has been telling me about this house for years. We have never made it over there until this year.

We got out and walked all around his yard. The kids were in heaven. They loved the lights and the lawn characters. A snowman blew soap bubbles into his hands that looked like snow. Santa conducted music in the window. There was a whole elf display in the garage. While Heath was making a cash donation, the homeowner was giving the kids candy canes and light sticks. He hooked two sticks together to make a halo. It was a magical experience for the kids.

We wound our way through a couple more neighborhoods then worked our way downtown to Candy Cane Lane. The whole time we drove around we listened to our Christmas CD’s. That was Monday night.

On Tuesday we went to the movie and out to eat. Wednesday was Christmas Eve. We watched a lot of shows together but the kids were getting antsy. It had rained just enough that we couldn’t send them outside to burn off extra energy. Heath had plans to take everyone to the church so we could bounce the basketballs. Gavin had so much fun he kept singing that it should be a new Christmas Eve tradition.

Heath played PIG with the boys. Somehow they talked me into joining them for a regular basketball game later. It was parents against boys. Gwen didn’t want to play. The first team to 5 points won. Parents won! I made 3 of those points I might add. I would have blocked better but I wasn’t planning on actually playing. I had on my ballet flats with the felt soles. I blame the shoes. Heath, Gavin, and I tossed the football around too. Gwen and Parker slid around the stage in their socks pretending they were ice skating. It was really quite fun.

Before I knew it the day was nearly over. The kids were dying because when you’re young Christmas Eve is the longest day ever. When you’re an adult, particularly a parent, the time flies. The countdown was nearly complete but the Christmas adventure was just beginning.

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