Friday, January 8, 2021

High Five for the Holidays (1.8.21)

Our elf, Chris, arrived - as always - on December 1st with Advent calendars and new pajamas in tow. He wore a mask for the first week, just in case.  

The Christmas Carousel - Hallie's Christmas dance performance - was a highlight of the season for all of us. I'm so grateful this event actually took place, especially given how cases and hospitalizations are now rising in our area. Hallie and friends wrapped up the dance semester with a "free holiday dress" week, which basically means "wear pajamas and as many gaudy Christmas accessories as possible". It's one of Hallie's favorite weeks of the year.

Hot apple cider in hand, Hallie and I drove visited the lights display at our local Central Park. We turned our favorite holiday tunes up and sang along as we drove through this lovely city offering.

With hot chocolate (for the kids) and coffee (for me) in hand - apparently we can only attend drive-through events with beverages - both kids and I drove through a live nativity at a friend's church. We wanted to play with the animals at the church's petting zoo and taste a few of the delicious cookies they offered, but we saw too many mask-less people to feel safe getting out of our car at either station... 

We returned to Central Park for our annual Cookies and Christmas Lights gathering. A simple yet beloved tradition, we start by walking the park's paths through the light displays and then wrap up the evening with cookies and hot chocolate in the open air pavilion.  

Just like they did for their fall concert, Will's middle school orchestra filmed their Christmas concert and then made the recording available to families and friends. Unlike the fall concert, which was filmed in the middle school gym, the Christmas concert was filmed in the high school auditorium, which meant a vast improvement in sound quality. While we've missed watching these concerts live (and our traditional post-concert dinners at IHOP), we are tremendously grateful to the faculty and staff who have made it possible for us to still experience the beautiful music these young but talented musicians make together. 

Throw in elf clubhouse and gingerbread house Lego building, edible gingerbread house decorating, movie watching, cookie baking, and lots of shopping for, wrapping, and delivering gifts, and you have yourself a fairly full holiday season!

And then the big event...

This was the first time - in nearly 17 years of marriage and in both kids' lives - we have ever stayed home for Christmas. The first time we've slept in our own beds on Christmas Eve. The first time we've opened presents around our own Christmas tree on Christmas morning. The first time we/I handled everything - all the shopping, all the meals, all the wrapping, all the assembly, all the activities - on our own, without sharing the load with our parents and siblings. 

We missed our families, and we look forward to (hopefully) seeing them all again soon and celebrating the holidays with them again next year. But this was perfect. Extraordinary in the truest definition of the word. Beautifully simple yet also magical and exciting and unforgettable. I hope that when they grow older and look back on 2020, Will and Hallie remember and cherish this Christmas as I will.

Hallie and I dressed up. Tom put on a
jacket and dress pants...but kept on his
Santa t-shirt, athletic socks, and Crocs.

Will wore a v-neck and non-athletic shorts,
which is about as dressed up as he gets. 

Tom asked me to take this picture so he could send
it to his students. I bet they think he's super cool.

Santa came!

Sweet boy loved his catnip mouse.

I hope you and yours had a lovely holiday season!

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