Putting up Christmas
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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:2012-11-16 iPhone 65101
…to this Christmas stuff:2012-12-04 iPhone 65905

We pulled down the Thankful tree:2012-11-27 Fall 65325(Lucy was so sad to see it go…or she was just in a bad mood…you never know with that girl.)2012-11-27 Fall 65327
And replaced it with the Christmas tree. 

Which resulted in our house looking like this for a little while:2012-11-25 Fall 652862012-11-25 Fall 652892012-11-25 Fall 65294(that’s a little horn from the tree she’s trying to blow…)2012-11-25 Fall 65295
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Finished product:2012-12-09 fall 657592012-12-09 fall 65761
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. 

Impromptu crafting
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We got to have a visit from some of our dearest friends who were in town for a family party.2012-12-02 winter 65986
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.  2012-12-08 iPhone 65946Love them.

Claire got to meet Santa Claus.2012-12-08 fall 65734
…at a cool church party:2012-12-08 fall 65731

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.2012-12-08 iPhone 65943

traditional gingerbread-house making
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With one of our favorite families:2012-12-17 holiday stuff 665662012-12-17 holiday stuff 66571

Temple Lights for Family Home Evening
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Christmas cards
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…with good helpers:2012-12-12 iPhone 65959

Elle’s whiz-bang choir performance2012-12-12 winter 66000
…with Nana and Papa.2012-12-12 winter 66007

Grace’s band performance2012-12-13 winter 660102012-12-13 winter 660142012-12-13 winter 660212012-12-13 winter 66023

I accompanied Elle for her first full-family photoshoot.2012-12-14 elle's photo shoot 66038
seeking out the best light:2012-12-14 elle's photo shoot 660462012-12-14 elle's photo shoot 660832012-12-14 elle's photo shoot 66091(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.2012-12-16 holiday stuff 66541
I love watching the adults watch the kids.2012-12-16 holiday stuff 66543

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.
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But that’s ok because I adore that story.2012-12-16 holiday stuff 66555

My very favorites, though, are “The Gift of the Magi”
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and “Christmas Day in the Morning”
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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.

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  1. 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. 🙂

    happy holidays!!

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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!)
    Merry Christmas.

  5. 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!

    Thank you!

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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

  8. 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!

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