Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Winter is Here, All is Ready!

The tree is up, the lights are hung, and the month has begun...

This year feels different. It is definitely the year where we have firmly transferred to Life with Older Kids.  We left Santa fully behind last year, and while I may be a tiny bit wistful over that, there is a part that is also relieved.  Doing Santa AND mom/dad gifts on a tight budget was hard!!  What has been sweet and a little surprising is that of all the kids, Angela is the one who misses it the most and had hoped it was real, even though she really didn't quite believe it.

The boys went BIG with lights this year, as Kenny and Matt continued with their favorite part of the holiday and decorated outside with even more lights, after having scored a box of strands of them at our church rummage sale.  Dominick helped them come up with an idea to use fence posts and rope to lift them off the ground and line the sides of our driveway with them.  The three day project was completed yesterday, and they did all the labor themselves.  Meanwhile, Josh assisted Dominick in a new addition to the yard...two large Candy Canes made out of wood that will hopefully greet us on either side of our driveway.  The girls will be painting them, hopefully tomorrow.  As soon as they are painted and up, I'll get photos of the final results and the lights at night, which look very nice.

Dominick is such a patient father, and always takes the time to explain things to the kids, or work with them to learn new skills.  My own Dad was the kind of Dad Dominick is, who could fix just about anything, was talented in a lot of areas, and made sure we knew the basics of many different household tasks.  I have a growing appreciation for this, as I see many young men growing up these days who are tech buffs, but who don't know which end of a hammer to hold.  The boys may not turn out to be quite as handy as Dominick is, or they might turn into great handyman themselves.  At least they are being provided with the opportunity to use tools, read plans and drawings, and fix a few things around the house.  I also love that the girls are not left out, either!

We had a lovely time this weekend, with our traditions firmly in place of attending the Christmas concert, helping our adopted grandpa George put up his Christmas tree, and had an added bonus of a usual fall tradition of raking leaves for a dear friend all happen on the same weekend!  We avoided Black Friday like the plague.  While I went a few years back a couple of times, it has grown to something of such proportion that it almost sickens me, with fights breaking out, and the mad grabbing at whatever you can manage to put your hands on.  I know there are great deals to be had, but I have to ask myself, at what cost?  

We are going to have a light Christmas this year, and the kids asked for very little.  I am grateful not to have been handed a list by each of them a foot long with all kinds of expensive items on it.  When I saw how minor the things were that were asked for, I actually got tears in my eyes...small things like a diary, a plastic sword, and Angela even said "Please don't buy me anything and buy something for someone else instead who won't have Christmas".  They'll each get one gift from us, or two if they are smaller items as we try to spend an equal amount on all of them.  By downplaying the importance of gifts, by not handing over catalogs and saying "circle everything you want", it has helped to keep the spirit of Christmas intact for us, and I realized we were enjoying the holidays far more with the financial stress lowered significantly.  Making the holidays be about more than "gimme gimme" allows space and time for baking together, singing, surprising others, and being with friends...all without the stress of what we can not afford to do anyway.  I'd love to be able to do more for friends who have done so much for us, but we just can't.  

So the house is ready, our hearts are ready, and we await the coming babe!  Though the kids are growing older, these are still precious times. I will never, ever take time together for granted.  We missed out on so many, that it would be almost impossible not to be filled with gratitude for every moment.  

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