I love this time of year! I love the lights and the familiar songs playing most everywhere you go. I love the cards that arrive in the mailbox each day. I love the twinkling lights. I love traditions. What I don't love is the non-stop busyness. We have not had dinner at home since last Monday night. (8 days ago!) We won't have dinner at home until next Monday night. We have something every night of the week. The biggest busy factor for us right now is Christmas In DeLand! We have practice every night this week. Then, the presentations are Friday, Saturday and Sunday. After that is over, things will slow down considerably around here.
We had a scare with Max Sunday that landed him in the emergency clinic early yesterday morning. All seems well now but recognizing his age, we know we don't have many years left with him. As I drove Jonah to school yesterday, he asked if Max was going to die. I told him I didn't know. I secretly prayed that God would let him live until Christmas. Who wants the memory of your dog dying during the Christmas holiday season? Dan called me from the vet to say as soon as they walked in, Max jumped (for the first time in days!!!) in his lap, then down to explore then back into his lap and acted as if all was right in the world. Who knows? But, $140 later, he seems more like his old self.
He's currently wearing a red sweater and is snuggled right up next to me. Speaking of the sweater, he was trembling yesterday when we got home. I think it was a combination of it being chilly and of him feeling bad and two boys coming at him like they hadn't seen him in years. Well, Jonah says "Mommy, you have to get him something to wear. He is shaking violently and needs adequate assistance!" Ummm...what? Trembling, yes. Shaking violently, no! He said it again. Then, I remembered several of those were vocabulary words from the last few weeks. He was just happy to use them. So, if exaggerates with you, chances are, it is just using a vocabulary word in a sentence.
Micah is in his first ever school program this Sunday. I was expecting a cute little performance with other 4 and 5 year olds. Then I found out he is in a bell choir. And, it is a serious song. And, I can't even wrap my mind around that. He has shown me what he has to do. It looks exactly like a handbell performance. I. Can't. Even.
Speaking of Micah, yesterday was his teacher's birthday. I told him on Sunday that we would send a gift for her birthday. He said "no, thanks. If I give her a gift, she might hug me!" I'm glad to know he is feeling the love this holiday season.
We have especially enjoyed the Advent season this year. It is what my kids look forward to each day. We are using two different systems but it is working great. A lady in our church made Advent boxes that are simple for kids. It has been great to focus on the different elements of the Christmas story with them. We are also using the Mary & Martha Advent tree. We used it last year and loved it. This year, we tweaked it a bit and tossed the cardboard tree. We bought another tree and just use the ornaments. I like this one because it has a verse of scripture then an activity to do as a family.
We are doing the Elf on the Shelf again this year. We have had our elf since 2006. I bought him at Mistletoe Marketplace before he was a thing. The author was there and signed my copy. She hoped my kids would love it like hers did. There were no Pinterest boards dedicated to him. He wasn't sold at chain stores. He was a simple little idea that I loved. But, y'all...that elf has gone crazy. Facebook is flooded with his antics. He is zip lining across living rooms. He is drinking maple syrup from a straw. He is making snow angles out of sugar. His even pooping peppermints into the toilet. All the while, our poor elf is doing what I thought he was made for...SITTING. ON. A. SHELF!
More power to you if your elf is creative. The most our elf does is write a letter to the kids that they find on Christmas morning. And, my kids loved it until last week. They heard about another elf who did fun things. All of the sudden, their elf wasn't all that exciting. Keep in mind, that is the thing the wake up every morning excited about. They go to bed and tell him good night. But, since he hasn't brought them gifts or done anything silly, he was no longer fun. Well, that opened up some really good conversations with them about gratitude and selfishness and comparison. (Mainly the older child!)
The interesting thing is that just a few weeks ago, Dan said something about our elf doing some fun things. I was against it because that sets a high bar that we can't always achieve. Just moving the thing each night is sometimes a challenge. But, for me personally, I always wanted to keep his function just like the book. I don't know if it is because we were doing it before it was popular and that is what the purpose was or if I didn't want to get into a creative show down that would add significant stress to the holiday season. And, if we are being honest, I've never quite gotten the "bad/mischevious elf" concept. Isn't the whole idea that the elf is there to watch and then report back to Santa. It seems counter productive for him to empty entire boxes of cereal on the floor when you would punish your kids for doing the very same thing.
Jonah was feeling left out that his elf hadn't done any of those fun things (But keep in mind, our elf has shown up on the morning after Thanksgiving in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia AND Mexico!!!) but I reminded him of the book and that our elf does exactly what the book says. And, if those other elves are doing crazy and fun things, then those families must have a totally different book. Ahem!
Honestly, it's all about what works best for your family. Things that are important in one house just aren't in another. Traditions that are huge to one mom seem silly to another. Even in referring Jonah back to what our book says about the elf, the truth is, we rarely even mention Santa here. We aren't against the idea of him and don't regret starting that tradition with our kids. But, it isn't the center of our conversations. And, the elf reporting back to Santa isn't used as a tactic for our kids to behave. I want my kids to make the right choices because they are right. Not because Santa knows. And, I want them to love people and be kind. I want them to look out for those who are sad. I want them to think about others before they think about themselves.
We started a new tradition last year of inviting people over for Christmas Day lunch who might not have family with them on that day. It ended up being one of our favorite things about the Christmas season last year. Well, we are doing it again and are expanding a little bit. We already have a couple from our church who do not have kids or grandkids in town. Dan got to know them on the Senior Adult trip and fell in love with them. Our friend Louise will be here again. (Along with her sweet potato casserole, which may or may not be the reason we keep inviting her!) :-)
When I started this blog post, I mentioned how busy we were. What I failed to mention is that I have painter due here in 20 minutes. So, last night at 10 p.m., we were unassembling our bedroom and master bath. Dan has never loved me more. Honestly, this is one of the worst ideas I've ever had. Who schedules painting to be done on a crazy busy week that also involves 5 people arriving at your house in just a few days.
If you need me, I'll be in a corner shaking violently!