December has always been a busy month for me with all the festive preparations and gatherings but I felt like I was being a little more intentional with the time spent this month.
I tried my best not to say yes to all things and chose wisely on things that mattered most to me.
The Martha in me would love to say yes and do all things as there were so many of us that I want to love on. But I was afraid that I would be running on fumes and not pursuing the true meaning of Christmas.
I love Christmas, don’t get me wrong. I really do.
I just don’t want to make Christmas stressful for me or my family.
Christmas needs to be Christ-centric. It needs to be joy-filled. It needs to be peace-loving.
Instead of signing up ourselves for everything on the list, we chose what’s best and what worked for our family.
This Advent, we used the book “The Wonder of Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp and my daughter have loved the daily readings which comes with a beautifully detailed daily ornament for the little tree attached to the book. The daily devotionals may be a little too long for a 5 year old but she sat still for me and she looked forward to it every day.
My festive December started with the annual ornament and cookie exchange, which was something I could never say no to because I loved how the moms come together each year for this fun-filled night. This was my fourth year in a row attending this party hosted by my awesome mentor mom and she was so kind to open her cozy home for all of us – there were like 20 moms this year. We have certainly grew over the years and we enjoyed “stealing” ornaments from each other.
The next best thing that happened in December was a decent snowstorm which allowed my children to have some winter fun outside. Who doesn’t love a winter wonderland, right?
What I enjoyed a lot was our monthly church’s family party and this month, the family experience’s theme was Polar Express and families would come together in pajamas. Isn’t that awesome to wear pajamas publicly? I certainly loved the comfort of pajamas.
Now in this month of glittering lights and shining stars, a picture by the Christmas tree is a must for my little ones. In all honesty, many would adore this picture below but many might not have guessed how much effort and time was needed to capture this perfect shot. We actually moved some furniture (like a huge couch) away from the tree, and my poor hubby was the clown behind the camera (and me the photographer) to make my kids laugh and smile adorably for a good shot. All is possible when I want a good picture, right?
This was our second year being serious (more like fun) in doing Christmas crafts. Last year, we made Christmas tree art out of her hand prints – so this year, we made a Christmas wreath out of her tiny hands again. We invited her little friend, Zoe to come over for a little craft party together.
Our children definitely have a rich childhood because they have such good friends since young. When I see them gathering together at a Christmas party for book exchange and building ginger houses together, it just filled up my heart so much knowing that these little ones are so blessed.
Winter Solstice (December 21) is highly celebrated in Asia every year especially if you are from the Chinese heritage. Winter Solstice festival is where families come together in unity and in peace, feasting together, and celebrating another year older. Being in America, it was really hard for me to be quiet and alone for the first few years during Winter Solstice. Nonetheless, when I started making more friends here, I hosted an annual feasting party (with some games of course) to make life merrier.
After all, this season is about sharing all the joy and love with one another. Agree?
Three days before Christmas, we started to bake some cookies which are gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free, so that both our children could enjoy some treats.
On the day before Christmas Eve, we took the day so slowly that we didn’t believe that Christmas was only two days away. We pretty much idled around at home and at least, my hubby and my daughter were thrilled to put a gingerbread train together.
Every Christmas Eve, our church will hold an evening candlelight service where families come together to worship the Lord as Jesus is the reason for the season. We were glad to have my hubby’s stepdad and mom at the candlelight service with us on Christmas Eve. It was undoubtedly heart-warming to have family around us on a special occasion. (Note: Remind me not to eat out on Christmas Eve evening because most Asian restaurants are swamped and understaffed. I just did not want to cook this year because I thought it would be a good thing to reduce my workload.)
So what do you usually do on Christmas morning? I would love to hear from each of you with different backgrounds and traditions.
As for us, we intentionally did not want to make it about presents the first thing in the morning. We emphasized on “sleeping in” but I only grabbed an extra hour in the morning despite falling asleep after midnight. At first, my hubby told me not to stress myself up for special meals on Christmas Day. The Martha in me felt guilty and I really wanted to bless my family with a hearty meal.
With my hubby snoring away at 8:45am on Christmas morning, I started slaving away in the kitchen. (Okay, that sounds a little too dramatic, right?)
My children were happily playing together while I whisked and baked away.
My hubby came downstairs with a growling tummy before the brunch was ready, but thankfully, he was patient enough to wait another 30 minutes. After my hard work of slightly more than two hours, Christmas brunch was birthed on the kitchen counter and you could see my happy son trying to steal a muffin (the pic above). Isn’t he cheeky and adorable?
After stuffing ourselves with so much food, we sang the Happy Birthday song to Jesus together and gave thanks to the Lord for all the blessings He has given us.
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
It was already past noon when we finished our brunch. Without wasting any more time after the birthday celebration, we moved to the living room to open Christmas presents.
Anyone else felt like a kid again even when you are in the mid 30’s opening up presents? I do!
Nevertheless, nothing beats seeing the joy of my children receiving gifts that they desired.
Christmas doesn’t end on December 25 in my dictionary. It was just the beginning. Remember, remember, there are 12 days of Christmas – so don’t stop celebrating until January 6th!
The very next day, we went over to my hubby’s family to celebrate Christmas together. It was surely a pleasant gathering.
My daughter dotes on her grandpa more than anything for sure.
My good friends, the Chins, were in town too. A month ago, we decided to visit Busch Gardens Christmastown together on December 27th, thinking that it would be the perfect day to go.
Little did we know that the temperatures in Virginia were so low that we could not enjoy the lights fully. It was just too cold.
Our little ones were screaming cold and all we wanted to do was to stay indoors. At least, we got to do a train ride, watched a mini Broadway at the Festhaus, and enjoyed some good ole’ German dinner. Besides, the lights were the main reason why we wanted to be there at Christmastown.
So there you go, my busy December had to come to an end. We would have to wait another 350 days (did I count it right?) for another round of Christmas celebration.
Until then, I hope you have enjoyed your holidays so far and I am signing off now.
Disclaimer: The post was written on December 28, 2017 but pictures and post updated on January 2nd, 2018.