13 November 2018

Thoughts on the Holidays

No lie, I am ridiculously excited about Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and have been thinking about it a lot. I think there's a number of factors at play.

1. It's baby's first Christmas. 

It doesn't look quite like I had perhaps imagined my baby's first Christmas might be. I don't have a Christmas tree, let alone a sparkly "Baby's 1st Christmas 2018" personalized ornament to hang on said tree.

Which is maybe a good thing, because we'd just spend the whole month trying to make him not pull on, climb on, or eat the tree anyways. I do have my Christmas garland and banner up, and my collection of snowmen ornaments in the middle of our dining table (since Cyrus cannot yet reach the dining table).

Opening stockings was a big part of my childhood Christmas, and my Grandma bought me a personalized stocking that I still have for my 1st Christmas.

2008, the last time I was with all my siblings for Christmas

I want to carry on the tradition of having a keepsake personalized stocking that gets filled with little treats and fun snacks every Christmas (I was going to stuff it with baby puffs and teething biscuits this year). What happened in my own family, the reason that my two youngest sisters don't have matching stockings, is because the company where we bought our stockings went out of business.

But they don't really sell stockings here, at least not fancy keepsake stockings that can last a lifetime...

So I had a great plan--I'll search and pick out a stocking from a company that won't go out of business! I found some very traditional stockings that could be personalized at L.L. Bean (surely they won't close up shop anytime soon!) and picked out the pattern I wanted. But then...the international L.L. Bean site wouldn't allow us to add the personalization and international shipping was so expensive and the USA site did allow personalization but then the time and cost of getting the stocking to Malaysia was just not going to work, no stocking this year. 

Maybe next year, if someone visits.

So, instead, we will carry on another time-honored family tradition, which is making do and having fun with what's actually available and being practical...and I will let Cyrus take his treats out of a reusable grocery shopping bag that has been temporarily commandeered for use as a stocking. Hey, it works! ;)

I do think that one of the best perks of baby's first Christmas is that he's not really old enough to have any specific desires yet, so I can just get him whatever I want him or need him to have, and he'll be happy with all the wrapping paper to tear up and with new things whatever they may be. Quickly growing boy has next to no clothing in the next size up so I already got him shorts and t-shirts...and baby wipes and soap for his bath and books I want to read him. *cackles in glee* And I'm planning to give him diapers. I mean, isn't it more fun to have a lot to open on Christmas, even if some of it is boring stuff that you needed anyway? (The same reason I give Angel at least one pair of athletic socks every Christmas) I still need to do a little more shopping when Christmas is closer. Grandma got him toys because Grandma wants the most fun presents to be from her--typical Grandma!

I know I don't have long before he's handing me itemized wish lists, so I'm enjoying this! 

2. Angel gets time off for Thanksgiving and Christmas!!

First year in a new job, and teachers have this amazing thing where they get time off for major holidays since there's a school break. It's kind of wonderful. For the past few years, he worked on Thanksgiving and most major holidays. The place where he worked previously did shut down for one week around Christmas, so he did get that time off, but it also made the end of the year stressful since it meant one week's less pay in December.

Angel's new job is one of our biggest "thank yous!" of the year, and since it does keep him pretty busy, I'm excited that we'll get to see him a lot over the holiday and he'll get to play with Cyrus

3. My December Christmas Countdown

I always do some form of Christmas countdown calendar, usually with activities each day. For practical reasons, a lot of the activities are pretty low-key (I'm pretty sure I've put "Pre-Christmas Housecleaning" in as a countdown activity for a Saturday before...because that's just the kind of person I am). I've figured out what kind of calendar I'm going to make this year, and have the supplies, now I just have to get some time to work on it. An anniversary date is always one of the Christmas countdown activities, with a December anniversary. This is the first year since our first anniversary that we aren't planning to go away for a night to celebrate, but we certainly will celebrate during the daytime (babies change things...)!

We were given a Spanish and English children's story Bible by my aunt, so while in the past, reading the Christmas story has always been a part of the countdown activities, I think we're going to add in another night where we read the Christmas story in Spanish. With the arrival of Cyrus and with Angel's new job, Spanish has taken a much bigger role in our everyday lives this year, and I'm grateful for that.

4. Food

It's the best part, isn't it? What are your favorite foods for the holidays? I want my mom to make up some homemade hot cocoa mix, which is perhaps a little silly to drink over here....but nothing beats a cup of hot cocoa while watching It's a Wonderful Life. I'm planning to make a Bacon Cheddar Jalapeno Dip for crackers for Thanksgiving...and maybe again for Christmas because it's a new recipe I learned over the summer and I may need to eat it twice. I want to make some Andes Mint Surprise cookies for Angel to take into work before the school year is over. And I'll make some molasses cookies for at home--the recipe that made Angel fall in love with me.

Over Christmas break, I want to have at least one "dumpling party," where my family gets together and makes dumplings (in the sense of pan-fried jiaozi) that would break the heart of an authentic chef of Chinese cuisine. We make cheeseburger dumplings, apple pie dumplings, banana dumplings, pizza dumplings...we've talked about perfecting a recipe for carnitas dumplings but haven't gotten around to it yet. Usually, we sit around filling dumplings and talking about how one day we're going to open an East-meets-West food truck and sell all of our crazy dumpling recipe inventions and get rich. Then we eat about 25 dumplings apiece while watching a show like Monk or Psych. It's the best holiday tradition ever, and we only started it a year or so ago.

There are always thoughts of missing my family members when Christmas comes around, but with a family like ours, some of them are going to be "missing" no matter where we are in the world. I'm glad for those that we get to spend this Christmas with! And I'll be eagerly awaiting all the Christmas photos and stories from the other family Christmas celebrations that we have to miss out on.

What are you thinking about with the holiday season quickly approaching?
Unknown said...

Your dumpling ideas sound so creative! That's a great idea for a food truck. I'm excited for you guys as you celebrate your baby's first Christmas! I think that definitely makes celebrating Christ's birth even more thrilling :) I agree, it is very nice that kids that young don't have any specific desires or expectations. Our first kid was only about 6 months old at his first Christmas, and he was pretty oblivious to everything. Now that he's 2, he's much more aware of stuff, but even the smallest things make him excited (as is the case with many young children), so that helps us keep everything pretty laid-back. It seems that often, it's adults who push the most for creating "the perfect Christmas" when our kids could care less about everything being "perfect"!

Farrah said...

That's awesome that Angel will be getting both holidays off, and yay for Cyrus' first Christmas! :]

A dumpling party sounds like it'd be so much fun--I need to get my friends in on that over here! *-*

Sarah Shumate said...

I would so buy food from that food truck! :)

I am really excited for the holidays this year, mostly because we're back home for them for the first time in a long time. It's been a while since we've had a cold Christmas and I'm crossing my fingers for snow even though Tennessee hardly ever gets snow before January.

Enjoy your first holiday season with Cyrus. There's definitely something to be said for making do with things (like your reusable shopping bag idea) - they make for fun, nostalgic stories later. xx

Kay R. said...

Great that Angel gets both off!! That should make baby's first Christmas even more special!

rooth said...

I'm glad y'all get together and have a dumpling making party. I've been meaning to have one of those at my place - maybe I'll do it around the holidays as well!

Carolann Chambers said...

It sounds like you are going to have a wonderful Christmas. I think that making do with what you have and not getting hung up on little details will make for a happier Christmas overall. I will be missing some family this year but we're going to put up our fake tree and drink hot chocolate while we sweat! I can't not have hot chocolate no matter how hot it is. We decided to go completely nuts this year and go to Japan around Christmas. We will be back in time for Christmas but we figiured we might as well go while we already live so far from home. And going to Japan is about half the price of going to NY to see my family.