I’m popping in to share my Christmas joys. Here are some of my old delights, as well as a few new ones I’ve discovered to make my Christmas more fun and meaningful for 2020.
So far the season has been wonderful. I love to stretch this magical time out as much as possible. Usually that means stretching past the New Year’s mark with Christmas-y stuff, not really introducing Christmas before Thanksgiving. I love to keep reading Christmas books in January. And I may have had more than one year where I left the tree up until after Valentine’s Day. :-).
Two Saturdays ago the hubs and I got to go to a formal ball. So he asked me out on a date! Yes! Often the default of our weekly date is a movie at home. Sometimes it’s a step up where we have a game night with friends or relatives over Zoom. So this date was extra special. We went to the grand opening formal ball of a ballet studio where my 19 year old BYU-attending-son has been taking ballet lessons.
It was amazing! The place is so elegant. I got to wear the pretty red dress I got for my older daughter’s wedding. We danced the night away, cheek to cheek. We also saw my son there with his seven friends, on a quadruple date.The tree in the lobby was decorated with ballerina ornaments. The whole night was magical.
So that was new. Sort of. When the older kids were teens, we went to a formal holiday ball every year with a lot of their homeschool ballroom dance friends. So it was kind of like old times. Except we didn’t know anyone there, except for said 19 year old son, who introduced us to his date and friends. We still had a lot of fun. I enjoyed talking to my husband, dancing, and seeing if we could figure out which couples were married and which weren’t.
Here are some old delights of Christmas that I am enjoying again this year:
Christmas Picture Books. Here’s my list of my oldies but goodies.
We’re planning on our traditional Christmas day of everyone picking their own favorite activity to do as a family. I got the idea from my friend Kim Davis. Here’s her explanation of that.
Hot cocoa with a few drops of peppermint essential oil. I have cocoa year round but I save the peppermint oil for Christmastime.
Christmas chapter books that I read aloud to my youngest kiddos. I am reading a little bit from each of these three books.
Christmas music by the Von Trapp Children, Maria Von Trapp’s descendants. I listen on either Pandora, Spotify, or YouTube. Angelic voices! Something about their crisp, clean voices makes me feel as if I’m sipping cocoa in a chalet in the Alps, surrounded by the warmth of a crackling fire and a fragrant Christmas pine tree, with freshly fallen snow sparkling on the ground.
Christmas music concerts with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. My oldest son has been in two of them as a dancer. Oh how I remember being so jealous of my husband and oldest daughter and her friend, the year they went to the concert that featured Natalie Cole and David McCullough. We were too poor to hire a babysitter so I stayed home with the younger kids. How time flies and brings changes! Now my youngest is 11 and I can go to things like this. I did make up for this lost opportunity a few years later when I got to go to the concert the year the Muppets came, with two of my younger kids, while one of the older ones babysat the others.
We are splitting it four ways. It always feels good to give. I read aloud Christmas Jars to my younger kids last year. The older ones don’t remember me reading it to them but I know I did. (Usually it’s my younger kids that I feel miss out on my read-aloud-book rituals, and my middle child. I think he missed out on me reading aloud all the Little House books. The older ones got it between my own reading and lisetning on CDs, and the younger ones got it thirteen years later, but not him, in a cognizant state. He was three when I did with the older ones and 16 with the younger ones so then he was gone a lot. Such is the fate of the middle child.) Anyway, it’s good to know I’m not neglecting the younger ones. We watched the movie last year with the younger ones, this year I’m making sure the older ones see it too.
Caroling/singing. I went with my church group last week. I am determined to spread the cheer of this activity with my kiddos again. I love it when we gather round the piano or keyboard to sing Christmas songs.
Light the World. I signed up to get the text reminders on my phone and printed out the calendar. I rarely feel organized enough to do what it says, but I still like getting the ideas.
So those are the old Christmas delights I am enjoying again. Now for what I’ve discovered for this year.
Christmas With a Capital C movie. I love Brad Stine’s telling of the Nativity Story in it. It’s a cute story that emphasizes Christ’s role in Christmas, and real-life application of Christ’s teachings.
Children old enough to make their own Christmas cookies. Yay, yay, yay! Just when i was gearing up to tackle again this “good Christmas mom obligatory project” with my kiddos, my 11 year old made them on his own one Sunday morning. He was totally OK with not frosting with them so, um, yeah, yay for that too! Then the 14 year old got cookies for her church activity and frosted hers over zoom with the girls in her class. Now today the 16 year old is making them, with the Pioneer Woman glaze frosting to boot! So if you are feeling guilty for never making sugar cookies with your kids, just wait for them to grow bigger and they will make them on their own.
The 12 Days of Christmas with Craft Lit podcast. My older daughter tuned me into Craft Lit when her first baby was born. It’s for people who love listening to classic stories while they craft. Of course you don’t have to be crafting while you listen. The page for all of the 12 Days of Christmas episodes is here.
New Christmas picture books, see here.
Christmas romance novels, see below. I’ve resisted Richard Paul Evans’ romance books for years. Finally this year I decided to check them out. They are like Hallmark Christmas movies in a book, although each one has a dark element that I’ve never seen in any Hallmark movie. They are clean romances that will restore your faith in humanity, as long as you believe these fictional stories reflect humanity. The first one got turned into a Hallmark movie. I’ve yet to watch it to see if it has the dark, sad element. I wish someone would write romance books about married love, Christmas-y or not.
Christian-themed Christmas books I got from the library. I just finished the one above today and am reading from this one below.
I’m not necessarily reading these books/stories in order. It’s just fun to be in a “love of learning” mode when it comes to Christmas stories. The one just above has classic Christmas stories from Christians that have been around for decades, like The Gift of the Magi and the Little Match Girl (that one’s so sad I usually avoid it), and lesser-known tales in the public domain, like this one I absolutely love, How I Spent My Million, by J. Edgar Park. Then it also has stories by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, some of which I recognize as being previously published in the Church’s magazines.
Focus on the Family Christmas Podcast Stories
The Last Straw movie. Cheesy but cute. The acting is not the best but it will probably bring a smile to your face. I love the playfulness between the neighbors and the cozy family feeling at the end.
My friend Katie, a fellow thrifter, who has a family hand chime choir. I loved their Christmas concert given at their home! So delightful! I never knew hand chimes existed. I thought handbells were the extent of hand-held percussive instruments. These things look like hair straightening irons with bells attached. Now I know what I want for Christmas next year!
Each year Christmas gets better for me. I have less stress because the kiddos do more work: the shopping/gifting, the decorating, the baking, and the cleaning up. More importantly, each year brings richer delights, deeper understanding of the best gift every given, my Savior Jesus Christ.
Along with that comes a stronger desire to be more like Him. Then the crowning touches are desires to be an even better giver like Him in the coming year, with a growing anticipation of the gifts that the Father and the Son have in store for me.