This week have you been inundated enough on Facebook, Instagram, and blogs with pictures of cute, matching children, donned in red and black sitting in front of a Christmas tree? Of snow and fires and poinsettias and lights? No? You want more “Christmas re-caps”?
I shall oblige.
We were far from “perfect” about it [who is?], but Ryan and I reeaaaallly tried to observe Advent this year. Okay, so that devotional book was only read the first week, and maybe I didn’t get the wreath out until almost the second week, but we did slow down and tried to embrace the liturgical season for what it is. By the fourth week, Philomena would point to the Advent candles and exclaim, “Ree-jeece! Ree-jeece! Man-u-el!” So, we consider that a win. [Okay, okay…she would also intermittently point at the wreath and say, “Happy Bir-day to youuuu!” The candle situation is confusing.]
Anyway, I am all about creating these new family traditions, that “we will do every year for the rest of our lives!” [Over-reaching much?] This year I declared that every Christmas Eve morning we would indulge in a special breakfast, then listen to Christmas music for the first time for the year while decorating the tree.
I really had this morning built up in my head. For many days leading up to the 24th, poor Ryan had to hear my commentary about choosing the perfect breakfast treat, the perfect Pandora station for non-obnoxious Christmas music…you get the picture. Basically, I was just setting myself up for a let-down.
And yet, the converse happened. Christmas Eve morning was probably one of the best times I’ve had in months.
First, I went against every instinct of my domestic-self and didn’t make my tried-and-true Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls. Instead, I took Ana‘s advice and paired PW’s icing [nothing could EVER top it] with this cinnamon roll recipe. Dang. It was a simpler process, and the dough was infinitely easier to manipulate. And the finished product even tasted better. I feel blasphemous saying that, but it is true. Forgive me, Ree.
Also, we had a fantastic time decorating the tree. Philomena knew the day was “special.” She was completely wired- in a good way- and felt like such a big girl handing us ornaments.
There was this moment as we were just sitting on the couch watching her toddle around the tree that I said to Ryan, “I just feel so full right now…so blessed.” Blah, it sounds so corny now, but in that moment it was incredibly sincere. This past year has had some low moments, so it was beautiful to be in a place of such thankfulness.
Christmas Eve is always a special celebration on my side of the family. We went to Christmas Eve Mass, and then went over to my parents’ for dinner and presents. I look forward to this evening all year, and this one did not disappoint.
Christmas morning was beautiful too. We had some quiet time with just our little family. We gave Philomena quite a few Christmas books that we have been enjoying this past week. It was also technically her 2nd birthday [!!!I], so even though we weren’t celebrating for a few more days, we still let her blow out some candles on a leftover cinnamon roll.
Then, we went back to my parents’ for a brunch, then back to our house to relax and nap.
Finally, we went to Ryan’s parents’ house Christmas night. We had a delightful time- lots of good food, even better company…you get the picture.
“Let us pause before the Child of Bethlehem. Let us allow our hearts to be touched, let us not fear this. Let us not fear that our hearts be moved. We need this! Let us allow ourselves to be warmed by the tenderness of God; we need his caress. God’s caresses do not harm us. They give us peace and strength. We need his caresses. God is full of love: to him be praise and glory forever! God is peace: let us ask him to help us to be peacemakers each day, in our life, in our families, in our cities and nations, in the whole world. Let us allow ourselves to be moved by God’s goodness.” Pope Francis’ Christmas Address