I'm sure it's the same for every family. The month of December comes with a calendar packed full of events. This year was no exception. Here's how we spent the days and weeks leading up to the most anticipated holiday of the year.
December 1st we set out to find our Christmas tree. We went to an actual lot this year instead of buying a tree from a big box store. It made such a difference. Our tree was so fresh and pretty, smelled wonderful and lasted the whole month. Isaac was impressed with the super tall trees and tried to convince us to pick one of them. Luke was excited about the blow up decorations.
That night we decorated the tree and put the rest of the decorations out as well. Karl & Janelle bought Isaac this singing snowman last year, and this year Luke made it his new best friend. It sings "Sleigh Ride" and wobbles around with flashing lights. He LOVED it.
We made several trips to go see Christmas lights in the evening. Luke always wanted to wear his hat whenever we went out. At first it was just in the evenings and eventually he started wanting to wear a hat everywhere we went.
The boys absolute favorite house is the one with the giant inflatable snowman and santa. These things are seriously HUGE. As soon as you turn the corner, there they are towering above the neighborhood.
The tree at Fashion Island is always another big hit. I took Isaac one afternoon while Luke was at speech and he found a "secret entrance" to get back behind the giant presents and run all around with a bunch of other kids.
Every year I stress out about getting a good family picture for a Christmas card. You'd think it would be as simple as just hiring a photographer, but I kind of hate to spend the money when the odds of getting a great shot are not necessarily in my favor. Don't get me wrong - I would LOVE to have some beautiful family portraits, but our boys are so incredibly uncooperative. I've had several people who've attempted to take photos of us agree with me. Like it is next to impossible to get a photo with both of them looking at the camera and smiling. But my dear friend Karlea was willing to give it a try. Bless her heart and thank goodness for Photoshop.
This is one of my favorites because it captures the experience so well:
Of course the month of December brings with it a myriad of Holiday parties. The first for the month was the ICEC Christmas party. ICEC is where Isaac attended therapy up until he turned three. We worked with some really fantastic people there and made some good friends, so I always like to go back and say hi. I think Isaac still has some faint memories of it too.
Santa Claus always comes to the party and gives each child a handmade wooden toy to take home. Isaac didn't really warm up to Jolly Old St. Nick, but he was happy to take home another train.
After the party we went to go visit my sister Sandy and my new niece Emma!
Now back to the Christmas parties. Isaac had a party with his class at school. Families were invited and Luke loved sitting at a little table (even though he was all by himself) and eating all of the snacks.
The Edwards family (my mom's side) always gets together for a Christmas party with the families that live here in Southern California. My Aunt Karen & Uncle Brian hosted at their home this year.
We always play this silly present game where we take turns rolling dice in a pie plate and if you get doubles then you can pick from the pile of presents in the middle of the room. Some years we have a stealing round at the end. Charlie & I usually bring kitchen tools & gadgets, sometimes people bring gag gifts, lots of stuff from the dollar store, etc. There is a separate present pile for the kids and they really get excited about it. Charlie rolls his eyes every year when we play this game, but hey -we can't argue with tradition.
Charlie was also making fun of my sister Wendy and I that night for unintentionally wearing similar outfits. It is hard to tell from this photo but we both had on tall brown leather boots in addition to the matching sweaters.
One of my favorite Christmas parties every year is when our friends the Oylers host a Christmas Boat Parade party. The Newport Beach Boat Parade attracts thousands of spectators every year, but it can be hard to get a good viewing spot. Tennyson's parents have a home on Lido Island so after dinner we can walk down to the beach and have a prime viewing spot to watch all of the lighted boats go by.
One of our family traditions during the holidays is to bake treats and deliver them to our friends. I always thought this was a really common tradition - at least it was in Utah where our family would give & receive dozens of treats throughout the holidays - but not so much around here. Either that or nobody likes us! Anyway, we have fun baking and delivering goodies because it gives us a chance to visit and catch up with friends, some whom we don't always see very often.
No one escapes the holidays without wrapping their share of gifts. Isaac was a good helper this year.
And he taught Luke just want to do with those empty wrapping paper rolls.
After church I made one last attempt at capturing some family photos. I wanted a Christmas photo of the boys. And then I added my other two boys. And finally decided I might as well jump in too.
And then we were pretty much ready for Christmas!