Category Archives: Christmas

The magic of pictures

Each year, as part of our Christmas decorating, I pull out the file that holds all of the Santa pictures. I display them on the bookshelf in our “library” for all to see.

They start with our first born, wearing a beautiful sweater my aunt knit and mailed to me. It arrived the very day I was going to take him for his first picture. Santa was a Saint Nicholas, with long robes, a real beard and a magic touch with children. At 8 months old, his huge grin seems to take up the whole picture.

Our daughter’s first pic is of a two month old with a dubious look on her face, and this year baby looks very serious, having taken a good long look at the man upon whose lap he was sitting.

My very favorite of the pictures though is one we took of the kids three years ago. It was shortly after the picture was taken, while we were waiting for it to be printed and they were sitting on a mall bench. Mr. Eldest has one knee raised, with his arm casually leaning on it. His hair is brushed and gleaming, and his eyes are clear. Most importantly he is looking at the camera, and his face is perfectly relaxed and calm.

It’s not an expression we see often on his face. He doesn’t often look directly at anyone, and I can’t recall seeing such a peaceful expression from him.

It might have been one of those fleeting expressions that are so often caught on camera, but I prefer to think that it was my son having one of those awesome days where he is truly shining through.

I have recorded many of our challenges here, and yes they are still ongoing in varying degrees. We are working with many people, to differing degrees of success.

Today though I wanted to share with my readers a positive experience. A warm and fuzzy memory that causes a thrill each year when I unpack that file and put up the pictures. It doesn’t matter that the holiday is over, or that I’ve packed the pictures away. Stored separately from the decorations, I might occasionally, on a dark day, sneak a peak at the pics so that I can see that serene expression and know that yes everyone in our home can find their peace.

Family Traditions

Family traditions are important to us. They might be as big as 25 people for Christmas dinner, or they might be as small as Sunday morning breakfasts in our sunroom. My husband and I work towards making our traditions something that the children not only enjoy but happily anticipate.

For our eldest, traditions are a comfortable, repeating and predictable event, for our daughter, they are a fun activity she enjoys while spending time with her family. For now, the baby gets to come along and experience new things.

Some of these traditions are deliberate, some not so much. One though is as new to me as it is to our older children: cutting a Christmas tree.

You see, when I met my husband, I had never had a real, live tree before.

So, off we went, to Spademan’s, the very same tree farm he had gone to with his family as a child, and we’ve been going there ever since.

It’s not huge, but by the time the kids have traipsed from one corner to the other, checking out every single tree looking for the perfect one, we have spent a good 45 minutes to an hour out there.

Our eldest carefully marked the trees in the running with tufts of dry grass and our daughter practiced her head stands and cartwheels amongst the rows of trees. All while I struggled to lug around our chunky baby who was so bundled up that he could hardly move yet was somehow able to surreptitiously remove his boots every few minutes. (there was no snow for a toboggan and we don’t yet have a wagon as I cleverly passed on all of the baby gear long ago) My husband corralled the dog, and juggled the saw, the video camera and the point and shoot camera (having wisely decided that the big camera might be too much to carry this year)

As is usual, we marched back and forth several times between two trees that I think were actually identical twins in an effort to determine which one was better. Someone finally said “I don’t care! I’m not walking anymore, it’s THIS one!” That someone might have been me.

Then, while I plopped myself down on the frozen ground to put the boots on baby again, and my hubby lay on his side cutting down the tree, we tried to get the older two to use the cameras and record the tree falling for posterity. Neither cared to.

But then our daughter stood up and said she wanted to carry the tree back, and promptly picked up the trunk and started dragging it. We looked at each other, shrugged and gathered up our things and boys quickly to catch up to her. I ended up carrying the top end to make it a wee bit easier.

I only took a small moment to correct hubby when he told her she was tough doing manly things, and told her that no, she is a strong woman. I don’t know if she caught the difference or not, preferring to focus on carrying the tree. She wouldn’t even take a break until I suggested it.

Back at the entrance we watched them pull our tree through the funnel-like contraption to fold the branches up to tie them for travelling, and got a big thrill watching them pull a really wide tree through using a winch.

We sat around the big bonfire and drank hot chocolate from our ancient thermos (used only twice a year-the Christmas parade and Christmas tree day) and ate hot dogs that never seem to stay warm wrapped in foil.

On our way home, two of the three fell asleep and the other zoned out completely.

Later, we decorated the tree while watching Christmas movies and despite a few minor quibbles (inevitable in our family of five)everyone was satisfied that our Christmas tradition had happened again.

After everyone was tucked into bed, hubby and I looked at each other and smiled. Despite everything else that may be going on, all is right in our home.