We talked a lot about starting new family traditions. Check out Cari's post for even more Christmas traditions. We always spend the Sunday before Christmas with Shaun's family at his Mum's (as you can see from the previous posts) and decided that we really wanted to focus on celebrating "Advent" by holding off on decorating our Christmas tree until Christmas Eve.
We loved lighting our Advent wreath each night and singing "O Come O Come Emmanuel" around the dinner table. That's a keeper tradition and even little Ava would fold her hands and wait patiently for her dinner as we said grace and sang.
Then Christmas Eve came (quickly) and although I'd decorated bit by bit around the house... inside
and cleaned up everything as best I could, we were MOST excited to put the tree up last night.
Our tree is not a "real" tree, but it holds great meaning because it IS from our wedding. It was one of the ones surrounding our dance floor and we always remember as it goes up that our Anniversary is less than a week away (January 1st). The rest surround the sanctuary at our church as we donated them to our parish. This morning we loved walking in and seeing them adorning the church and smiling back at us from their new and important homes there closest to Our Infant King.
Back to Christmas Eve.
Shaun's job is to get the tree and assemble it...
...and then on goes "It's a Wonderful Life"...
while I decorate it (and Ava undecorates) and my loving husband watches. He's always the observer... but I don't mind because this is how he noticed me. Through those quiet, patient, watchful eyes.
I loved once again going through each ornament and saying a pray for the gifter. There were ornaments from SO many beautiful students over the years. I'd unwrap them from their carefully packaged places...
...say a little prayer for the one I remembered, begin to reminisce in my mind... and place it on the tree.
Because Miss Ava is so little still, I decided to find a solution to still display all the "breakable" ornaments, and keep them out of her reach. So I used two "Command" hooks and placed them on the corners of each doorway, draped garland over each of the archways and hung all the fragile ones from there.
I love it! The affect was beautiful and that way it's not just the tree, but the whole house that's decorated!
Some of the doorways are reserved for our Christmas cards. I punched a small hole in the corner of each card, put a simple ornament hook through and hung the cards along the garland. This also came out great. Simple and beautiful.
Then there were the sparkly ornaments from our wedding. As I hung them, I remembered all those who helped me get ready to be Shaun's bride. My wonderful Bridesmaids coming over so late at night and helping me make ornaments for wedding favors. I said a little prayer for them and even shed a tear recalling how very much I felt like George Bailey at the end of the movie when he realizes how RICH he is with his friends.
Actually, at that part of the movie both Shaun and I were so moved and said the same thing, that was how we felt with the outpouring of love we recieved when we were getting married. We are truly blessed.
There were the ornaments signifying our new baby's birth.
All the "Baby's 1st Christmas" ornaments from our Pastor
from friends, from her grandmothers, from her sister and from US.
And the hand and footprint ornaments I made last year with her. Her feet and hands are so much bigger now!
Here she is right before the tree fell over on her.
Oh well. Had to get that over with at least once, ha!
As I loved this time with my family and spun through my memories, spilling out prayers inside my heart for all those they reminded me to think of, our wedding/Christmas tree went through it's beautiful transformation...
and before the night was over it looked like this!
Shaun and I didn't focus much on gifts this year and I was so happy about that because even when he wanted to run out and do a bit more "last minute shopping" I begged him to stay in with me instead and just spend time with me being "my gift". I was so glad he obliged because after he rocked his sweet little lady in her snuggly reindeer pajamas off to sleep, he came back to join me with a glass of eggnog and a bowl of homemade popcorn and some Christmas movies.
"Santa" snuck in somewhere in the midst of all this and made sure the tree had a few presents beneath it and the stockings were filled.
Right about then he left a sprinkling of snow and Christmas magic drifting down in the quiet of the "Silent Night" and a giddy mommy couldn't have gone to bed more content.
The morning brought with it a happy baby who slept late and a sleepy joyful family just making it to Christmas Mass on time. Good thing I'd practiced my music last week! My gift to my husband was his favorite Christmas hymn and as I sang, "What Child is this?" my own little babe needed to "take a walk" (a few times) because she was extremely chatty and fidgety on this particular Christmas morning.
She walked to the back of the church waving hello to each parishioner as she went and I was grateful that we worshipped in a place where the parish is like a "family" and no one seems to mind when Ava acts like the one year old she is.
God provided in abundance for us as one of the parishioners gave us not one but TWO new carseats for Ava (we were going to need to buy them within the next month anyway). Shaun says it's because we tithe and that's why God takes such good care of us and provides for all our needs.
The church was beautiful (of course I didn't get photos of the trees) and we took a few pics of it and our visit to the Manger.
We drove off to breakfast at our regular haunt and after filling our bellies with coffee, orange juice, sweetbread french toast, eggs, bacon and ham, toast and hash brown, we headed home to spend a quiet day with "Nana".
Shaun's request for Christmas day was pot roast. As I type this it's simmering away and boy do I hope it comes out just perfect for him!
The baby's napping, we're watching "The Bells of St. Mary's" eggnog in hand and as happy as can be. God is very very good.
After this quiet Christmas day, we will make a great big "Christmas dinner" this upcoming weekend to celebrate Christmas with Cheyanne and save opening most of the gifts until then.
From our family to yours... We wish you the very merriest of Christmases and a New Year filled with an abundance of graces from our Infant King!