This Christmas was a little different than usual. Since we had bought tickets to fly off on vacation on Christmas Eve, we held our little Christmas as a Family Home Evening on the Monday before Christmas. I wanted it to be special without being crowded out by the stress of the before-travel rush. Five days ahead was perfect. Hence all of the Eves.
When we picked up my mom that afternoon, she was laden with bags and boxes of wrapped gifts. With a nearly two-year old to shop for, I don't think she even pretended that this year would be simple! I'm sure it embarrassed our 3-foot tree to stand next to such a big pile of loot. My mom is so generous.
We started our evening off with a variation on the Mary and Joseph dinner we'd been enjoying for about a week (okay, so maybe not a week, but once you ace hummus you have to just keep making it...). So simple and so delish.
Next was music time. We sang a number of carols to kick off our evening...
And then Marcos read Luke 2, the story of the birth of Jesus, while Gigi and I maneuvered the tiny figurines in our crèche along with the story line.
After the story, we opened our advent activity for this year, which has been a few pieces of chocolate each day along with a suggestion of a nice thing to do for someone. They are simple enough that kiddos can participate, and my mom was thoughtful to prepare them for us. With the death of Papai on December 1st, our 24-day advent calendar was neglected, because frankly we didn't care to do something for 24 days this year. We were more like a 6 days of advent kind of family this time around. That's what we could manage.
After our treat and our act of service, we opened gifts. Gigi is at the perfect age - lovely and engaged and excited about her new pressies, but clueless about the process and perfectly content.
Tutu gave Gigi a harmonica, a magna-doodle for our travels, a band-in-a-box to make noise with, wooden fruit with velcroed pieces to practice cutting, and a beautiful Tasha Tudor counting book, among other things. One of her other favorite gifts is her bathtub crayons from her Aunty Lindsay! I was also spoiled by Marcos and my mom, who gave me beautiful things for our home and kitchen (silpat, new hand towels, beautiful soup pot, glue gun, new knives, yes!). Marcos and my mom are exceptionally good gift-givers and I have a lot to learn from them.
We gave my mom a personalized photo calendar and a new stainless steel ladle for her yummy soups!
And for Marcos I bought the book he wanted more than any other book in the world: Steve Jobs, the Biography. So that he can always remember to dream big.
And that was our sweet Christmas celebration. I actually loved doing Christmas as an evening event, kicked off by things that helped us to remember baby Jesus and his humble entrance into the world. Hmmm... ideas for next year.
In the meantime, stay tuned for our travels and what we did on the REAL Christmas day.