Our Cozy Little Christmas

Snow
The view from our house Monday morning–halfway through the blizzard,

One of the odd parts about being a clergy family is holidays. While the rest of the world seems to be heading out on exciting vacations,or visiting far-flung relatives, our family is tied to the church. Don’t get me wrong, I love our family and the traditions we have formed over the years, but there is always a little bit of a tug–a what if. 

This year was already shaping up to be different. With both Christmas and New Years Day falling on Sundays, I was guaranteed two four-day weekends off from work–and so, I decided to take the middle days off as well, netting me over a week of vacation time. I was picturing days of blissfully crocheting. I even brought home some books from work–a bit of continuing ed, if you wish.

I no sooner got home on Thursday night that the wether reports were becoming more and more dire. we were going to have a blizzard of epic proportions–on Christmas. It would be our third blizzard in as many weeks. We were not even sure if we would be able to hold Christmas Day services at church. I spent Friday–along with all of Bismarck–at Target, stocking up on essentials, and junk food, and festive food, and extra milk–just in case. 

And then we waited. And waited. And waited. I was certain we would wake up to a new blanket of snow on Christmas morning–but instead, the sun shone brightly–so off to church we went. It was a lovely service that we enjoyed–and we also enjoyed watching our anxious children squirm in anticipation of the gift opening that would follow church. On our way home it began raining and sleeting, but no snow. 

By 1 PM, our promised snow began–and continued to fall and blow for about 24 hours straight. We were officially snowed in. As a mom to six, I was delighted! it was the best Christmas gift I could ever ask for! Just our little family of eight, all home alone–with no outside distractions or work or coming and going for three whole days. 

Perhaps the teens would argue that it was too much togetherness–but for me–it was perfect! 

By Thursday our road was finally plowed, and I was ready to go into town again. 

And now on New Year’s Day, guess what we are watching for? You guessed it! Another storm! I’m not sure where we will put all of this snow, but I must say, I LOVE this! I feel like I live in a lovely snow globe, and I am enjoying every minute of togetherness with the ones I love most!

Merry (Simple) Christmas

I love Christmas time. I love the sights, the smells, the sounds, and the tastes. I love the extra church services and time with friends and family. 

But I also know how easy it is to get so consumed IN the season that I can’t even enjoy the season. I work full-time outside the home, and work hard at home as well, managing our household of eight. It is very easy to become overwhelmed. And you know how the old saying goes, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” 

So, a few years ago (likely the Christmas when I was expecting the twins) I made a conscious effort to simplify. I simply had to let some things  (like Pinterest perfectionism) go. 

 

Christmas Tree
Sometimes simple is better
 
I let the kids decorate (and sometimes even re-decorate) the tree. I’m sure you can tell, with the artfully placed ribbon and the three candy canes hanging on the same branch. 

Christmas Eve has the potential to be a stressful day. We began the tradition fifteen years ago to serve a meal of Swedish Meatballs (from frozen meatballs) in between church services on Christmas Eve. It is not a fancy meal, but I serve it on our good China, and a side dish of peas makes it colorful. It is a winning meal for our family though. I only serve Swedish Meatballs on Christmas Eve, and our whole family enjoys them so there is no whining. The great part is that I can throw the whole meal together in about a half hour. 

We spend the day leading up to church relaxing as a family. I might sneak off to my room to wrap a gift or two, the kids may play a board game (or fight, as is their tendency). 

Our family attends the 5 PM Christmas Eve service at church. This *might* be the year that one or both of the girls do not fall asleep during church! Then, the hubs is off to preach at a church an hour away where he is filling a vacancy. The kids and I will set out a spread of cheese and sausage and crackers and a lot of treats that generally come from the frozen food section–shrimp cocktail, pot stickers, fried mushrooms, etc. The whole family looks forward to this (easy) Smorgasbord all year long. We  have special plates that are set aside for Christmas Eve, which adds to the special feel.  

The kids snack, I open a bottle of wine and we enjoy some Christmas movies. The girls have fun setting out (store bought) cookies for Santa, and he stops by sometime after we are all asleep. 

Christmas Day brings church in the morning, then we come home and open gifts and eat leftover snacks from Christmas Eve. The kids play with new toys or read new books and I prepare an easy Christmas feast of ham, cheesy broccoli rice,  rolls and salads.  Honestly, our weekenight meals are trickier to pull together than this one!

All in all, it is a pleasant few days, filled with family, laughter and food.

Did you notice some things missing? Like baking, or reading special stories or playing special games? Oh, no worries. Christmas only BEGINS tomorrow! It is twelve days long and does not even end until January 6. That gives us plenty of time to bake cookies and go sledding and eat favorite treats. There is no rush. And I love it that way. 

Unexpected Peace

I was up until 1 in the morning today.

I’d love to say that I was finishing an awesome book, or that I was able to stay awake for a whole movie, or even that I was chatting with one of my long distance besties.

But no, sadly I was up holding a puke bowl for one of the five year-olds. For the dramatic five year-old.

This morning, groggily, the hubs and I got to have “the talk“. You know, the “who stays home”.  He has more paid leave than I do, but, as a pastor, he is kind of in his “busy season”. I had some actual pressing stufff to get done, so he took one for the team and slept in covered the morning shift and I came home at lunch time.

Thankfully the sick twin is feeling better, but still moving slow (and napping!) and the well twin is still healthy.

So what I get is a bit of unexpected peace during a busy season. I was able to do some dusting and tidying, some painting with the girls, and now I am cozy in my quiet living room. I’m watching the snow fall softly outside. I have Christmas music streaming on Amazon Prime.

 I’m drinking extra coffee out of  one of my sweet winter mugs.

 Even the pup seems pretty happy about my unplanned time off.

 All in all, it is a good reminder that is a pretty good idea to schedule in a bit more down time.

Working Mom Christmas Survival List

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If I could send a care package to every working mom for this time of year, this is what would be in it. Maybe Santa will slip one (or more) of these into your stocking! This list was inspired by Man Crates. This is what I would want in my very own (pretty) gift package!

It Cosmetics – Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Waterproof Concealer

 Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Waterproof Concealer

This stuff covers up every sleepless night! I first tried this amazing product with my Ipsy subscription, and now I won’t go without it!

 

It Cosmetics – Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Waterproof Concealer, Deep – $14.99, 5.48 shipping – Available at Fullfillment By Amazon

 

Dunkin Donuts – Original Blend Ground Coffee Resealable Bag (Case of 4)

Dunkin Donuts - Original Blend Ground Coffee Resealable Bag (Case of 4)

Coffee. . .of course. And yes, I run on Dunkin’.

 

Dunkin Donuts – Original Blend Ground Coffee Resealable Bag (Case of 4) – $21.10, 6.51 shipping – Available at Amazon.com

 

Collection XIIX – Mirror Trim Infinity Scarf

Collection XIIX - Mirror Trim Infinity Scarf

A pretty scarf to hide coffee spills and dress up a plain Jane top.

 

 

Collection XIIX – Mirror Trim Infinity Scarf – $10.85, 5.48 shipping – Available at Amazon.com

(1 reviews)

 

Neutrogena – Norwegian Formula Hand Cream Original — 2 oz

Neutrogena - Norwegian Formula Hand Cream Original -- 2 oz

This little tube of hand lotion has been a purse staple for me since middle school. It works great on chapped toddler cheeks as well.

 

Neutrogena – Norwegian Formula Hand Cream Original — 2 oz – $9.12, 5.01 shipping – Available at Fullfillment By Amazon

(9 reviews)

 

Logitech – Ultrathin Keyboard Mini (Wireless – Bluetooth – White – Tablet – Membrane)

Logitech - Ultrathin Keyboard Mini (Wireless - Bluetooth - White - Tablet - Membrane)

This handy little keyboard can help make your work more portable–and your typing more accurate!

 

Logitech – Ultrathin Keyboard Mini (Wireless – Bluetooth – White – Tablet – Membrane) – $46.95 (50% off), Free shipping – Available at Amazon.com

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links provided by Postpresso.

Christmas Music Confessional

I’m a confessional, liturgical, Lutheran. And I have a confession to make. I listen to Christmas music during advent.

This may not seem like a big deal, but it kind of is.

When I was a young married woman, I was very serious about keeping advent. The thought was if we saved Christmas for December 24, it would be so much sweeter.

We used to wait to decorate for Christmas until December 23 or so. We only listened to advent hymns during the four weeks leading up to Christmas. I stayed out of the Christmas candy (not a bad practice).

I love advent. I love the extra midweek church service. I enjoy spending additional devotional time. It is nice to not spend a month stressing out about Christmas.

So what happened? Well, my children for one. Their pre-Christmas excitement is contagious. They are practicing Christmas songs in school and wander around the house humming them. Also, December is dark. . .very dark. Some candles and cheerful Christmas music warm up my living room.

But the biggest change is that I have a desk job this year. And I spend 8+ hours a day listening to music. November is a crazy-busy stressful work season for me, and once Thanksgiving is over my mood is lighter. I celebrate the end of November with some of my favorite music. While other music styles get old over 8 hours, I never really tire of music proclaiming my savior’s birth.

I stream music from Spotify.com, which allows me to listen to and discover new music as well as “spy” on what my friends are listening to. It is like having an unlimited music collection. I discovered some fun Go Fish! Christmas songs, I love listening to the Nat King Cole classics and I can listen to this several times a day (it never gets old!)

So, I may be breaking some unspoken Lutheran rule by indulging in Christmas music now, but I can assure you that I won’t make the error of hanging it all up On December 26! I’ll still be listening through. January 6 (and possibly longer!)

Chime in! When do you start listening to your Christmas music?