Sunday, January 06, 2013

The Best Christmas Ever

The tree at my parents' home
Bracelet from Aine

Modeling her new ensemble (and yes, I should have alternated skeins, but I didn't realize until I was inches from binding off. My friend suggested calling it an ombre effect)

Several years ago we decided that Christmas didn't really fit with our core values. It was a whole lot of excess and often led to feelings of sadness, disappointment and a sense of being overwhelmed. The kiddos would want to play, but still had presents to open. They wanted things that didn't appear. It was just too much. We decided to change our approach. We continue to give one joint Santa gift to the kiddos. We then give them one other main gift apiece. There are a few smaller gifts like art paper, colored pencils or pens and a new electric toothbrush, but that is it. Of course, there are plenty of other gifts from family, but even there we have asked for gifts of time instead.

Since deciding to really downsize our holiday celebrations, I suffer from doubt. Every time I open my inbox or turn on the radio, I hear about sales and buying and more and more stuff. This year I held my ground until just before Christmas. I was out running errands when I had to call Dave to talk me down while standing inside a Toys-r-Us. I left empty handed. Our little family doesn't need anything, but I was worried. My kiddos made lists, and the gifts we had for them did not appear on those sheets of paper.

I should not have worried. This Christmas was wonderful. Although the gifts were not those on the kiddos' lists, they were picked just for them and oh so perfect. Eamon received a new bike/skateboard helmet, Aine found herself clad in a full pink ensemble complete with a new mama made poncho, and Benton has a new scooter. The gifts from others hit the mark too as a carnivorous plant kit made its way into our home as well as some black sparkly shoes. The biggest gift was from Santa. The kiddos found three new sleds and snow gloves until the tree. Santa had arranged for our sunshiny Arizona family to spend three nights in a "Winter Wonderland" up north. Everyone was so excited!


So, on the first day of the New Year, our family headed north to Rim County (Strawberry, AZ). We found our cabin and set about the hard work of playing. The cabin had a large sled run, so we all tested the new sleds many times. Even mama and daddy took turns hurling themselves down the slick snow. Aine remarked on the stairs inside the cabin making her legs sore the next day. Nope, it was all those runs up the sledding hill.

The snow was thrown, molded, stored, and eaten. The kiddos fashioned a snow mama one day. It even had oak leaf hair at one point. This collaborative effort stood near the swing the whole time we were there. Over the days new hair was added as well as a nose job, going from carrot to icicle. She was able  even to withstand attempts at toppling by a certain four year old.

We all stayed toasty warm in our cold weather gear which included new boots for some and borrowed snow pants for others. Wool socks warmed our toes as well. A new hat was needed for Aine as she could not find hers as we were packing to leave. This new one "makes her look like a king or queen" according to her little brother. A few times the kiddos played without coats making their mama shiver. They just loved the whole experience.

Of course, when the wind was a little too cold or the toes needed some warming, we headed inside to the wood stove and more fun. Benton loved playing a bit of pool. Dave spent time teaching the kiddos the art of nine ball and the proper dart throwing technique. While I played multiple rounds of Yahtzee and Monopoly Deal. We dined on chili, stew and shepherd's pie. We read, knit and just enjoyed each other. According to Eamon, "It was the Best Christmas Ever!"


  1. fabulous! there was so much more snow!! that is wonderful. i was totally worried about our downsized mostly handmade christmas, but the kids loved their stuff and were totally happy. go figure. i guess we don't need to spend a bazillion dollars on junk to get happy kids. :)

  2. It was a perfect Christmas! Love the snowman and of course the snow! Glad to "see" you once again :)

  3. It sounds like a perfect Christmas, an experience will last much longer in their memories than some toys!

  4. Heather, I can so relate to your worry and doubt about Christmas. I experience this still every year as I try to make it more simple and meaningful. And mostly filled with less things. I will have to ask you where you stayed - not sure we are making it to snow this year. Still recovering from move.

  5. Love Aine's poncho!!! I have been thinking a poncho for me would be a great use of my left-over worsted and have been hunting around for a pattern. She look beautiful and so does the poncho :)