Monday, December 12, 2011

Holly Jolly Christmas

As Christmas approaches, I have to admit that I’m feeling pretty jolly and well prepared for the first time in…I can’t remember.  Our Christmas tree was up and our Christmas cards were in the mail by December 2nd.  Since the first showing on Thanksgiving Day, Jenna has become a mad fan of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and has been watching it over and over again. She’s memorized the script and nearly all of the words to each song. She loves it so much that my mom gave her a Christmas sing-along soundtrack to the movie which we have been listening to during each car ride-short or long. Most days I accept Jenna’s invite and sing along to favorites like Clarice’s There’s Always Tomorrow or Sam the Snowman’s Holly Jolly Christmas.  Naomi seems to enjoy the tunes as well but most days she is very preoccupied with trying to cut her first tooth by gumming everything in sight (including my chin).  “Nom!” Nom!” “NOM!” There is the tiniest tip of a grain of rice just peaking on her bottom gum line, so I just know her hard work and drool will pay off in the near future.

By some foresight and divine intervention, I got most of the girl’s Christmas shopping done the day after Christmas last year.  December 26th is like a second black Friday-only less crowded.  Stores are extra motivated to get rid of surplus toy merchandise and I am only happy to help them out with deals of 50% off or better. Because of my fabulous finds last year, the only purchases I had to make was the unforeseen Jenna request for a blue guitar.   We thought it was a fluke at first.  But her wish from Santa hasn’t changed in the last three months so I found one online for $16.95.  Her only other request was a dance game similar to the Wii Dance Revolution game.  I found a DVD kid version on eBay for $9 and a bonus find of a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer figurine play set in BJ’s for $4.97.   Naomi’s still too small to make requests so Santa will be bringing a Jumperoo play center and a puppet frog that croaks songs. Overall we’ve spent around $100 but if I had to guess our items would have totaled over $400 if it weren’t for the good deals. 

Some people would find our reduced financial circumstances depressing during the holidays but I can’t express enough in words how wonderful it is to take the financial stress out of Christmas.  We gave the family a heads up a long while ago that things would be simple this year.  My side of the family agreed that gifts would only be given to kids under the age of 18.  If I had it my way I’d join my dad’s thinking and spend Christmas like the pioneers did.  I never forgot reading a Little House on the Prairie book about Christmas when Santa brought a rag doll, a gingerbread cookie, an orange, and a stick of peppermint. That was when the focus of Christmas was on the birth of Christ instead of materialism.  Who knew that me being home and our family operating under such a tight budget would become such a liberating experience. 

To celebrate our newfound focus Mike and I have been making a huge effort to get in all the fun holiday activities that we had always been too busy to fit in before.  We went to the town Christmas parade and have been driving around looking at neighborhood Christmas lights.  Jenna and I have been baking and doing Christmas crafts each day to make little gifts from her to the family.  We’ve got two upcoming dates with Cowboy Christmas at Laporte Farms and Tara Plantation’s light spectacular (which Mike has talked about for years and now we are finally getting to go).

We also started two new Christmas traditions in our household.  On Thanksgiving, we read the book Elf On the Shelf to Jenna and Naomi.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the book is the story of an Elf who acts as a scout for Santa Claus.  Each day he watches for children’s behavior and then he flies to the North Pole at night to report to Santa whether each little girl or boy has been naughty or nice.  When he returns the next morning he finds a new hiding place. 

Jenna named our house Elf, Elfie, and it has become a fun game each morning for Jenna to find Elfie and give him good reports like, “I just peeped on the potty again Elfie.” Or “Elfie, look, I gave Nomie (Naomi) her doll back.” (Of course, she leaves out the minor detail that the reason Naomi is crying is that Jenna had just ripped the doll from Naomi’s hands two minutes before she “gave it back”).  Still the extra set of eyes “watching” Jenna each day has been very much welcomed.  Elfie has become a comrade in arms so to speak and I find myself mentioning him frequently throughout my day, “Elfie isn’t going to like that you put Mindy-dog’s food in daddy’s slippers.” Or “Are you going to clean those up or do I have to tell Elfie you put Dora the Explorer Stickers all over your sister?” Is it low for a mom to turn snitch to a stuffed Christmas Elf? If it brings peace and goodwill to the world, I think not!

But what excites me even more than my new found Elf power is the second tradition Mike and I started. On Thanksgiving Day we sat down and made a list of all the answered prayers that we have received in the past year.  At first, it seems hard to remember but once we got going we found more and more things that we were grateful for, things we had been praying for and had received, things that had brought joy to our lives.  It was a list sort of like the Glad Game that Pollyanna played in the movie Pollyanna. After a couple days the list started to get longer and longer.  So we cut strips of green and red construction paper and wrote one item from our list on each strip of paper and made it into a Christmas chain.  Jenna had a blast trying out the tape for the first time and Mike and I were amazed how our answered prayers and joys from the year quickly encircled the entire length of our tree from top to bottom.  Accompanying our angel Christmas balls, ribbon, and ice sickles, I’d say this is the most beautiful tree we’ve ever had.

So with the advent wreath that Jenna made in Sunday school placed beside our Nativity scene, we happily anticipate the coming of Christmas (and the finding of baby Jesus which Jenna was playing with and has since lost).  The magical array of warm cookies and Christmas hams will be welcomed treats and I can’t wait to see Jenna’s face when she opens her guitar on Christmas morning so that she can be just like “Murray from the Wiggles only blue not red.” But as I look at our Christmas garland chain on our tree there is one link that I am most grateful for: I am so grateful that I get to be home with my girls so I can enjoy every moment of this season with them. 

1 comment:

  1. My wife got to be a stay-at-home mom. No amount of income could have equaled the payoff of that singular decision. Our son, Sam, is now 20. I can't hear "Holly, Jolly Christmas" without remembering Sam, as a little boy, watching that over and over. My name is Kevin Troutt. I was in grades 1 through 4 with your aunt Pamela. Your dad was always nice to me, even though I was a year younger than he. (I remember him practicing art in 2nd grade.)
    I loved your line: "I just know her hard work and drool will pay off in the near future." You are a good writer.