Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas (and Christmas, Jr.) 2013

Ah, the joys of the season. This Christmas was delightful, just as most are. Now that the kids are six and eight, we've had a few years to enjoy the traditions of Christmas and to make some of our own.

We kicked off the season with my company holiday party. I've blogged a good bit about how much I love my job, and how fortunate I am to work with the people I do. And then there's the time we spend together after work - and that's when I know I'm really lucky. I wasn't able to stay late (20 miler scheduled for the next morning) but Justin and I got a rare photo of just the two of us:
And of course, we were there long enough for me to herd the cats and get a photo of the team, their guests, and some of our alumni who we ask to join us each year:
Next up: Coussoule Casa Christmas Cookie Chaos. After the Snowpocalpyse, five snow days, and persistent subfreezing weather, we were ready to have some friends over and make the holidays bright!
I'm not sure at what age they realize that more sprinkles aren't necessarily better...
We continued our now-annual tradition of attending the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas for their amazing Christmas concert:
Meanwhile, the house sparkled and twinkled with decorations - inside. The weather was so frightful, we never were able to get our outdoor lights up this year. But the upside of the cold, cold weather is that we had a fire crackling in the fireplace almost every day in December. Yes indeed, it has felt like Christmas all month long at our house:
The family tree in the living room where the stockings are hung with care...
... and the show tree in the front window
All of this to lead up to every kid's favorite day of the year: Christmas. And Santa did not disappoint. Despite our best efforts, our shopping got a little bit out of control again this year. 
We've done a better job on focusing on the true meaning of Christmas this year; we started our morning with the reading for Christmas Day, and lighting all of the candles on our Advent wreath. Then, it was presents time!!
I know there are a lot of toys in the pictures, but that's because those are pictures of presents from Santas. The presents under the tree sadly disappointed, because this was the year we reached the dreaded most-of-the-gifts-are-clothes stage. I actually felt a little bit badly by the time they got almost to the end of the boxes - they're only six and eight, definitely too young to ask for clothes much less enjoy receiving them for Christmas.

All was not lost, though - as Caroline said the next day, it was actually Christmas Eve, Jr. Which made the 27th Christmas, Jr. We were headed to Houston to do it all over again with my family! Woohooo!!

No matter how pretty the packages or how fun the gifts, nothing could possibly top my niece in her elf hat. Add my own cute kid in there, and it's a cuteness explosion:
And then... then it was time to open presents. Again.
Caroline couldn't believe that she got the American Girl doll Saige, the Girl of the Year. Conversation with her cousin as she opened it:
Caroline: "It can't be!"
Kira: "It can be!"
Caroline: "It isn't!"
Kira: "It is!
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And for John, Granddaddy came through in a big way. I think the only thing we have to figure out is how to take turns, because Mommy and Daddy want to play with the AT-AT Walker, too.

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So as we round out our Christmas vacation here in Houston, I'm like everyone else and looking back at the year, counting my blessings. 

Merry Christmas, Y'all!

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