First of all, go and get a coffee and maybe one of those cookies you've been avoiding - you will need it to get through this post - it's very long...to make up for month or two of living it and not blogging or posting to Facebook... we have enjoyed this month long celebration to the fullest, hopefully you'll enjoy reliving it a bit with me. Good luck!
Back in early December, we began our Advent celebrations. I love advent and taking the time to quietly reflect on the reason Christ came, and the reason we do all the work to prepare for the celebrations, it makes the work part of the celebration, for me anyways.
|Our advent activities basket, Miscellaneous games, |
colouring books and such that I've collected through the years.
|Each Sunday in advent we share a time around the advent wreath singing songs, |
reading scriptures and talking about God's Story.
Tree Lighting with Caroling
Having a high schooler in the house brings us many new opportunities to get out and enjoy the community. Isabelle is a busy girl involved in many groups, but my favourite is her school choir. It's very active and great fun to listen to. They had a tree lighting ceremony outside her school complete with hot chocolate and candle light. Loved it.
|Elaina screamed out "IGABELLE!" which made Isabelle laugh |
in the middle of a song, such great memories.
Stir Up Sunday - Plum Pudding
I tried my hand at making homemade plum pudding since it was $10 for a tiny one in the store. It does not cost close to that much to make, and was tasty. But next year I'll make it MUCH smaller. My mom helped me by making the run sauce, and I have lot's left over. I think maybe I'll have a get-together for my Plum pudding loving friends.
Cookie Baking/ Decorating
In years past we've participated in baking exchanges, but this year, I decided to just have a baking day and make just our favs including sugar cookies to decorate. This worked perfectly as they all get eaten as they are favourites. We should be out of cookies by Jan 1st :)
|Isabelle hard at "work"|
The Boy's Christmas Concert
The boys are in a choir this year, so their concert and potluck dinner was a must. It was enjoyable to see them participating in this this year.
Homeschool Christmas Party
Our local group of HS families had a Christmas party complete with games, craft, caroling, skits and of course cookies and hot chocolate~!
|Decorate a mom for Christmas!|
Isabelle's choir performed as part of the entire Music department - ensembles, rock band, jazz band, vocal groups, drum line, etc. A great festive (and loud) night!
Santa Claus Parade
We go to the Niagara on the Lake Santa Parade each year, Partly because it's smaller, it's a quaint little town, we go early enough to tail gate and partly because it's one of the last ones in the region, so it's in December and not November, smack in the middle of the holiday season.
|2 year olds do not like being told they can't run into traffic.|
|Our cozy set up! Next year we need another family to join us, it's a fun activity to share with others.|
|Our hot chocolate and snack center.|
|My personal favourites are the marching bands.|
|It's such a relief to know we can get ready to leave when we see Santa's sleigh. |
It's fun, but after a few hours outside, it's COLD.
Each year I try to find some kind of activity to enjoy together. This year, the church around the corner hosted a living nativity/ visit Bethlehem event with live animals and activities, drama, etc. It was a well done event and a lot of fun.
|We met up with some homeschooling friends who had the same idea as us to attend that day.|
Here we are all squished into the hay ride.
|Elaina loved the animals!|
|Getting water from a well.|
|Isabelle really enjoyed all the Christmas experiences.|
|Olive Oil Press. Smelly!|
Christmas in the Village with Melissa Shriner
One of my personal highlights each year is Melissa's concert. It never disappoints and always gets me ready for Christmas week. She sings a combo of jazz, classical and opera and more. I love hearing my friend sing and love seeing her succeed. This year was a sold out show jam packed with guests and holiday specials!
|The church was all decked out this year and my friend Andrew Braun did the sound and lights. |
His work really made her shine. Great job Andrew.
|Melissa and her sister Vanessa (who hosted the reception - cupcake goddess of Vanessa's Cupcakery and Confections)|
It always makes me happy to see friends who've known me since I was barely an adult :)
Annual Family Christmas Eve Day - Ice Skating
For the past I don't know how many years, my sister and brother in law have rented an arena and hosted a family skate. It's lot's of fun to get out and enjoy some activity and fun before the week of feasting causes us to lie on the couch for endless hours and watch the kids play Just Dance...at least someone ends up burning those calories.
|I have the cutest bunch of nephews around!|
|See what I mean.|
|Her early Christmas gift was a pair of skates.|
|I love seeing the aunts and uncles and cousins all having fun together!|
|Every Canadian boy probably has one of these photos, even if he doesn't play hockey!|
|Mom stays in the picture.|
|Sisters! Elaina had fun sliding around, being carried around and snagging the rice crispy treats.|
Christmas Eve Service
Our church had a lovely concert that we did manage to stay in throughout, despite having a wriggly 2 year old in our midst. The best part of the night - singing Silent Night of course.
|The platform was just so lovely and cozy but elegant.|
Christmas Eve Dinner
The first of the guests to arrive joined us for our traditional dinner of homemade soups, fresh bread and cheese.
|In our dresses for church.|
|The menu...French Onion Soup & Seafood Chowder with fresh crusty bread, |
various cheeses and veggies.
|The kids did a gift exchange for the annual opening of one gift on Christmas Eve.|
|I did up a Christmas Eve box for everyone. It had our movie (A Christmas Carol); Slippers for all, |
PJ's, Popcorn, Candy, and a new bedtime book for Elaina.
|Before the movie, we completed our Advent Wreath lighting the Christ Candle and singing together.|
|After the movie, the kidlets went to bed, the socks got stuffed and we created the scavenger hunt for the boys' gift.|
It goes like this, we tell the boys they cannot leave their bed til 7:00 - since their stockings are on their bed, this usually isn't a problem and we listen to their exclamations of joy from our bed. Then they all come in and open them all again, showing us what they got. Then we get the girls, and repeat it. The we go upstairs, get coffee (I throw in the baked french toast) and the put Christmas Pumpkin, Cranberry and carrot bread out, and repeat the socks with the grown ups who slept at the house. After that, more grandparents arrive in the midst of the chaos and we continue opening gifts and break out the Christmas Mimosas - yum! Then after all the gifts are opened, their was one last little unlabeled gift, which led the boys on hunt through the house for clues which led them to their gift (a laptop computer = wanted and needed). Then we have brunch, the baked french toast and overnight crock pot casserole.... then the various people retire to get dressed, play with gifts, play cards, ensure plenty of snacks and sweets are available throughout the house, prep for the dinner later, etc, etc.... and I basically don't sit again until dinner.
It sounds like a lot of work, but to me it's really not. At the end of the day, I'm tired, but not exhausted. These kinds of things energize me. I've also got a pretty awesome family full of people who dig in and help each other so we all have fun. I start weeks before with planning what will be best for every guest - food wise, activity wise, etc... and then start pulling together all the details. Thankfully I can set the table days in advance and I cook as much food as I can ahead too, I also assign the side dishes and desserts to my guests who are able to bring something.
|Our place settings (it's only practical to use plastic when 25 are sitting down to dinner)|
|The kids table.|
|Our giganticus table!|
|Naughty and Nice punch - was a hit. Thank you pinterest!|
|Group shot, next year, we'll avoid the tacky chandelier. |
Side note, Lucas , my 10 year old found me those red chairs on the side of the road. Score!
|The toddler corner!|
|Jokes and poems and prayers...|
|It makes my heart happy to see people enjoying my hard work.|
|The newest nephew in good hands.|
|HOLIDAY FAMILY FEUD!|
|Final answer ladies?|
|Take your places!|
|Three strikes for the steal...|
|The best Christmas gift...JUST DANCE!|
Every year I tell myself to pack the bags for boxing day in advance, and every year I forget, so we wake up in a stupor and then the flurry of packing and chaos to get out the door to drive to my hubby's hometown for his step dad's family Christmases. I actually love this day, because I have very little work to do - we always stop for coffee, we always bring a book or two, we always chit chat while the kids read or watch a video... I love the drive and I love the visiting, and the awesome food at the open house first, then more food and cards at the family dinner later.
The boys love the cousin time. 7 boys under 10 = CAHRAZY!
This year, they actually got to play cards too. My babies are growing up!
|Is this fairy door not the sweetest thing? Elaina kept knocking on it saying "hello?"|
|Love this kitchen!|
Afterward, we return to Grandpa and Nana's house which is so cosy, the kids go to bed and we reflect on the days over a glass of wine. Then I read a book until late listening to their grandfather clock pass the time.
The next day is middle boys bday, so we always go out to lunch and celebrate him. After the drive home, we try to muddle through the mess of the house in prep for the "leftover dinner" with friends the next day, we also have been known to ignore the mess and go to the movies (the final Hobbit movie is awesome by the way)
Best Christmas Present Ever...
Our good friends join us to demolish what's left from Christmas and have a relaxing visit. This year, was a Just Dance marathon between the girls and boys!
The end is not here, not even close. After the left over dinner, the Christmas decor comes down. It takes two days... interrupted by an annual get together with my sisters and mom for our Old and New Night - reflecting on the past year and the one to come - over greek donuts, port and coffee. One of my favourite traditions in the days leading up to the final hurrah! Now off to put away the rest of Christmas and prep the house for New Years, apparently we have company coming!
Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog, have a Happy New Year!~