Our merry little Christmas

We hope you had a wonderful holiday, whatever and however you celebrate.

We’ve done a lot of talking and thinking about this holiday season in the past week. We’ve got some ideas about how we hope to do it better next year, but we’ll save those for next year. Right now, we thought we’d share a bit of this year’s with all of you.

Cane and I had two days before Christmas with no kids. We used it to do some last minute shopping and cooking and house-sprucing.

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Oh, how I wished I had a little girl to buy this vintage dollhouse for! If this were the type of split-level we owned, I think it would have had to come home with me anyway. Luckily, it’s not.

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We both loved this sweet paint-by-number, but at $225 it was a little rich for our already-tapped-out-by-Christmas blood. :-)

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We are all about living with less, but I must confess: I’ve always wanted a set of Christmas plates. They are unnecessary and take up space and I could never justify the expense, but when I found these cheery red birds a few days before Christmas in one of our thrift stores I came home with 8 of them. Life’s short, and sometimes it’s OK to be a little self-indulgent.

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We had the table set for Christmas Eve on the night of the 23rd. It felt so great to wake up the next morning with everything ready.

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For a centerpiece, I cut some pine boughs from a tree in our backyard and put them in an old pickle jar. I like to put the “centerpiece” at the end of the table where it doesn’t get in the way.

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A few weeks ago, we put a cedar garland on our mantel, but by this last weekend it was dried out and faded. We took it down (and saved it to start our Christmas Eve fire), and I put a few small cuttings from the arbor vitae in our yard in water glasses and got out some votive candles. I liked it much better than the garland. Now I won’t feel the need to buy one next year. :-)

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We loaded up our firewood baskets. I took this shot just because I loved the sunlight shining on it. We had a beautiful, clear day on the 23rd; taking photos helps me pay attention to the things I have to be grateful for.

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Cane and I did all our wrapping together, which took less than an hour. Buying fewer gifts this year helped, and we kept it simple by buying pre-printed boxes that didn’t need anything more than some pretty ribbon. We’ll be able to re-use the boxes and ribbon for years.

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Plain white boxes work well, too.

I have to say, it was wonderful to have those two days alone. We had time to reconnect with each other, something we were sorely needing. We also had time to prepare slowly, without any rush or pressure to do anything else. Even cooking–something that’s usually a huge chore for me–was enjoyable.

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Our two girls love (and insist on) Cane’s apple pie for every holiday.

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I made strata (ahead of time) for our Christmas morning breakfast. Gluten-free (with GF bread) and yummy. It was so nice to be able to just put this in the oven after we opened gifts.

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Even the peppers seemed Christmas-festive to me.

When the kids all came home on Christmas Eve, the evening felt even more special because they’d been gone.

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Grace lit all the candles for us.

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Games were played…

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Cane found this at a thrift store last week.

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Daisy played, too.

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Sweet treats were eaten. Cane’s mom sent these from Louisiana. We didn’t need to bake anything!

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And each child opened one gift before bed. This is Will examining his “something to read” gift.

Our Christmas day was quiet and mellow. Quiet and mellow is nice.

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Everything I need to know about relaxing I learned from our wiener dogs.

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More games were played, and more sugar consumed.

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We played Redneck Life. So politically incorrect, and so much fun. We figure we can laugh at it because we’ve kinda lived it.

Quiet is a little hard for us, in some ways. We grew up in big, extended families that gathered for every holiday. Cane and I were both missing people yesterday, some alive and far away, some gone forever. This post by the wonderful Eartha Kitsch made me cry right in the middle of our mellow Christmas afternoon.

I’m coming to realize that the holiday season is likely always going to be bittersweet for me now. That’s the price of living for a while, and loving deeply.

I’m grateful that yesterday I was able to surrender to both the bitter and the sweet. To be able to accept and embrace the holiday for what it is now, and for what it used to be.

It was a huge gift for me, to be able to hold both things simultaneously.

We hope your day was equally full, and full of good things for you and those you love. 

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