I usually think pulling out the Christmas stuff is drudgery. There is so much to shuffle and move…and I usually do it all by myself. But this year the kids begged to pull the decorations out early…and promised to help the whole time.
Which, surprisingly, they actually did.
And while they did our house welled up with goodness. There’s nothing like Christmas stuff to ward off the fighting and whining…at least for a little while.
We pulled off the Thanksgiving stuff first…
Our front entry went from this Thanksgiving stuff:
…to this Christmas stuff:
We pulled down the Thankful tree:(Lucy was so sad to see it go…or she was just in a bad mood…you never know with that girl.)
And replaced it with the Christmas tree.
Which resulted in our house looking like this for a little while:(that’s a little horn from the tree she’s trying to blow…)
Last year when I pulled out all the Christmas decorations I was a little melancholy thinking it would be the last time I would be decorating this beloved house of ours.
But here we are a year later so I’m cherishing this one more year to have this house just how we like it. Oh man I do love Christmas stuff even if I do complain that it’s a BIG job.
We got to have a visit from some of our dearest friends who were in town for a family party.
Do you think the kids were over-the-moon to see them or what?
(Can you tell who’s the fastest to whip off those church clothes?)
We snuck away one night in the midst of the holiday hoopla with these guys and caught the end of a hot-air-balloon festival. Love them.
Claire got to meet Santa Claus.
…at a cool church party:
I got together with American Mothers association and made more baskets for the women’s shelter we did them for last year. So good to see and catch up with those wonderful ladies again.
traditional gingerbread-house making
With one of our favorite families:
Temple Lights for Family Home Evening
…with good helpers:
Elle’s whiz-bang choir performance
…with Nana and Papa.
Grace’s band performance
I accompanied Elle for her first full-family photoshoot.
seeking out the best light:(Lots more but I don’t want to spill the beans on them all before they send out their Christmas card.)
We had our annual cousin white-elephant-gift-exchange and talent show.
I love watching the adults watch the kids.
Reading Christmas stories under the Christmas tree
It’s our tradition to read one story under the tree each night. Each year it gets a little tougher because there are so many more commitments and recitals and all that jazz. But I love that it pulls us in together and brings in that Christmas spirit when we do it.
I bought this book this year and man alive, I think I’ve read it to Lucy 427 times so far.
But that’s ok because I adore that story.
My very favorites, though, are “The Gift of the Magi”
and “Christmas Day in the Morning”
They have become my kids’ favorites too because for some reason they love it when there are tears streaming down my cheeks…which happens every time I read those ones.
I find my heart racing because there is so much I want to cram into December. So many ideas bombarding me from friends and internet links. So many GOOD things that would surely make our spirits stronger.
But lately I’m trying to just be still and realize that it’s ok if we’re not going to actually pull off that grand idea of feeing the 300 people at the crisis center breakfast on Christmas morning or make those sugar cookies for our neighbors we’ve made every other year because we’re getting in the most important stuff. Fitting in service as much as we can, family secret service and reminding each other of our “gifts to Jesus” we will open on Christmas morning.
Because really, that’s what it’s all about.
And every so often, amidst the swirl of activity around me, the One who’s birth we celebrate assures me in His own way, it is enough.
i never comment! BUT…i had to. 🙂 the blog is my morning routine.
first…shout out to elle and her great photo session. i had to do a double take because the Cluff's are my relatives!! how neat! small world.
second…i was visiting with a fellow counselor in young women's. and she told me her son has the same syndrome that lucy has. her son is in his teens. i gave her your contact info because it is always nice to talk to others. 🙂 her name is lucy. we live in bethesda/potomac, md. 🙂
Your family and home are so beautiful. From one of your many blogging admirers may you have a wonderful Christmas together!
oh I loved this post. It's always fun to see how others prepare for the holidays!! Elle is such a great photographer!
I started doing the book thing a few years ago after I started reading your blog. One of our all time fav's is A Christmas dress for Ellen… retold by President Monson. Maybe you even mentioned it here? anyways, the place where it happened is right by our old town!!!! How cool, I can never finish it without tears streaming down my face!!!
I can't wait to see you all in your new house, to make some more magic memories!!
ps, did you change our your window drapes from orange to grey, from thanksgiving to Christmas pic… they look a different colour! ahha
oh man I sure miss you guys a lot, a lot. wish I could see you at this special time. also. whiz-bang.
Elle is SO talented. She has such a bright photographer future ahead of her! (That family is adorable too, LOVE their creative coordinating outfits!)
Your home really is so beautiful!
Hey Shawni! Mindy texted me a picture of your card – loved it! Then I got to see it in person at Anne-Marie's house. They were adorable and your family is so beautiful.
I used to read the kids Christmas stories at night in their room but last year we adopted your by the tree tradition and LOVE it! Love your blog Shawni!
oh p.s. thanks for not sending your baby sister a christmas card! 🙂 for some reason i haven't received one yet… 🙁
I love seeing how other families celebrate. (This year I'm seeing it firsthand as an au pair living in Europe. I'll be celebrating Christmas with my new family here this year instead of the ways I'm used to.) The reason I was compelled to comment though is I'm sure that 427 times for reading Dr. Suess was a random number to you… but it's my lucky number. It was nice to see it popping out at me. Almost like I was supposed to be here, doing this right now. Instead of packing like I probably ought to be. (We leave Germany for France in 10 hours and my bag is empty!)
First off, I love you house!
Second, I can see part of an art print in your second and third photo on this post but I can't read the entire thing. I would love to know where you got it!
those last three paragraphs just about sum it up for me… seriously,this year i am not gunna make it in the department of cookie delivering and homeless shelter feeding… but we have been having some other magical times together as a family, and even though this year will be simple… its still about Christ and its all good 🙂
THe Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomy by Susan Wojciechowski is my all time favorite. The illustrations are beautiful and I cry every time i read it
I love your blog. I did have a question for you. The picture of the family. Above the picture it says about watching the adults, the gal in the blue blouse, red pants and blonde hair is that Laurel Driggs? If so my they use to be in our ward & she was one of my daughters amazing YW leaders and my daughter also babysat for her with the twins. Let me know please. Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family. May you be blessed with good health and happiness. Hugs, Bobbi Jo
Such beautiful stuff…mostly those great kids and your pretty cool husband too!
We will miss you dearly but let's skype!
So much beautiful stuff…mostly those great kids and your pretty cool husband too! Wish we could be there…or you could be here!
We will miss you dearly but let's skype!
Looks like you live here in Arizona from the Temple lights at the Mesa Temple. We live in Scottsdale, but just moved into a home last week.