This year marks our fourth Christmas celebrating with kids. We celebrated James Michael’s first Christmas just a few days before he turned one back in 2012. We managed to visit both our families that Christmas, but since that first one with kids, it hasn’t been quite that easy celebrating Christmas each year.
In 2013, our first Christmas as a family of four (James Michael nearly 2 years and Beau 5 months) was marked with a full month of sickness. But we survived and I came away with some valuable lessons for the New Year.
Scarlett arrived 10 days before Christmas last year, marking 2014 as our first Christmas as a family of five. Once again, we battled sickness right up until Christmas, then we managed to spread it to family and had to postpone celebrations.
This year, we conquered a stomach virus (that landed four out of five of us in the ER) a week before Christmas, but were able to make it to celebrate with my Dad’s side of the family two days before Christmas. We managed to get a picture of my Grandmother–Gigi to her great grandkids–with all 11 great grandchildren. Two more are due in a couple months!
This year, we were finally able to make it to our church‘s Christmas Eve Candlelight Service that I’d wanted to attend for the past two years. I’m practically beaming in this picture above; I was just so overjoyed that we were healthy and able to make it to church as a family to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
We came home from the service to have our dear neighbors–who are basically surrogate grandparents–come over to give the kids sweet, thoughtful gifts. Then we finally managed to get all the kids to bed so Santa could drop off gifts.
This year, I stuck with getting the kids small stocking stuffers and only four gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. I wondered if it would feel like they weren’t getting much on Christmas morning, but quite honestly, it was plenty, especially considering they receive so many gifts from extended family. I was really hoping to set the tone that life isn’t all about the latest and greatest stuff (toys) and remind them that we open gifts to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
By mid-morning, we learned that another family member was sick, so we postponed family celebrations another day. I tried not to let the change of plans get the best of me, but you know how us women are with our expectations. After the kids’ naps, we took them to a park to play for a bit, which helped to reset my expectations and my focus.
We celebrated the next night with my side of the family, and despite things still not working out exactly the way we (re)planned, you could never tell it by looking at my kids. When I think back to my childhood, I remember idyllic, timely Christmas celebrations, with lots of family and food and love. I don’t remember any sickness or adapting of celebration plans. But you know what, I’m quite sure that they happened. The wonderful thing is that children tend to remember only the best moments. So despite another Christmas that didn’t go as I had planned, it was still a Christmas filled with food and family and, most importantly, love.
We celebrate Christmas with James’ side of the family this weekend, the day after celebrating James Michael’s 4th birthday, which is actually today!