Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Our Christmas Eve
It's funny how things change as you get older and become a parent. As a kid, Christmas morning was of course my favorite part of the whole Christmas season. But as a parent, I think Christmas Eve is the best day of December. The anticipation and excitement and somehow - the calmness - of the day and night are what it's all about. Kind of like the world waited with held breath for the coming of Jesus on that very first eve of Christmas, we still wait with baited breath 2,000 years later. And this Christmas Eve might have been our best one yet.
I made a point to make no plans for the day leading up to the candlelight service that night. I wanted to let the day progress slowly, to stay in our pajamas right up until it was time to change into our church clothes, to let the excitement and anticipation build at a slow and steady pace. And with the following few days full of hustle and bustle, I knew I wanted this day to be calm and relaxed. We slept in a bit, I made the boys chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, and we followed it up with a festive and warm bubble bath.
We played board games around the Christmas tree, baked Jesus' birthday cake for later that night and then watched as some magic started happening right outside our window...
(If you're wondering why Brandon has a towel over his head, he pretended to be one of the wise men all month long). ;)
Shortly before church, the snow started falling. We were predicted to get a few minor flurries, enough to make the air look pretty and festive, but had no idea God was about to turn our brown and dry ground into a white, winter wonderland. Just in time. The way He often works.
It was nice enough to go outside for some pictures, and I wanted to capture some before leaving for church, when all of a sudden, just as we were heading outside, those tiny little flurries turned into storybook flakes that completely surrounded us. I think it's one of the things I will remember most from this year's Christmas. It was like a scene from a movie. This wasn't in the forecast at all.
It was pretty magical to head to church this way, even though it meant Daddy had to head into work. The boys and I got to church really early to save seats for the rest of our family, and they were angels as they sat and waited patiently for the service to begin and for our people to arrive. We took up our whole row of the church, and Daddy surprised us by showing up just as the music began.
Orchard set up a beautiful photo booth area, and since we arrived so early, we were able to get a few pictures taken of ourselves before the line got long!
Except for Brandon getting a tad whiny during the service because he was hungry, the boys did very well for that hour, and Orchard and Pastor Dave once again gifted us a beautiful candlelight night. And when Silent Night started and the candles started getting lit, I once again soaked up the moments of watching my two boys hold their candles so closely and carefully, the small flame illuminating their faces on each side of me.
After church, we headed with our aunts and uncles back to my parents house for bowls of soup and bread before coming back to our house for Elf on TV, slices of birthday cake and my favorite - tracking Santa from Papa Bob's phone.
After our family left us, we snuggled up for our traditional Christmas Eve reading by the tree - The Christmas Story and The Night Before Christmas. Our pretend fire made real life crackling noises behind us, and I let the boys stay up much past their bedtimes. I didn't want the night to end.
Before I tucked them in tight, we carefully set out Santa's cake and cookies and both boys left him the sweetest notes. Brandon had saved a candy cane from his class Christmas party just for Santa, and he placed it ever so carefully next to his goodies.
And then after they were sound asleep, I got to work for the next morning...
When I was all done, with Cody working and the boys sleeping, the house was incredibly quiet, and I spent some time to myself just sitting there by the tree and taking it all in. Christmas Eve is the best night.
A few more pictures of our day...
I love this one of them. When I don't even have to tell them to pose and they just get goofy and loveable with each other? My favorites.
And now a Christmas morning awaits...