We had our annual Santa party at the Scott's house.
It is always such a fun time seeing the big man in red with his elf, playing trivia games, the kids acting out a silly Christmas story, and of course, opening presents.
This year Nick was putting up a little bit of a stink about having to sit on Santa's lap but it didn't take much coercing to make it happen. Still a little bit of his inner child remains underneath all this handsome manliness.
Singing "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" after we answered the joke that is always asked: "Which side of a reindeer has the most hair?" Well, the outside, of course.
The kids received red hoodies from Santa which is great for us since they are dress code approved.
A couple days later we headed to my most favorite Christmas tradition. Hands down.
This year I thought it would be fun to do an advent calendar of activities. I made a super cute one with little brown paper bags with little tags in them that listed the activity we were going to do for the day.
The activities ranged from decorating our tree to service projects to places to go and things to make and eat. It was a really fun idea in theory but I was so busy trying to MAKE the Christmas spirit happen that I was totally missing the point of the season.
The Candlelight Christmas is the best thing ever to get you out of over stimulated mode into the right frame of mind to think about the true meaning of Christmas.
Here we are making paper chains and popcorn garlands to decorate the schoolhouse tree. The cute ladies started singing Jingle Bells and even got my boys in on it too.
It made me so happy to hear Nick's new scratchy voice sing along.
The carolers are amazing and always so friendly calling out "Happy Christmas!" as you walk by.
We wrote letters to Santa and set them in the fire to have the ashes get carried to the North Pole by the wind. Liam did two just to make sure.
One of my favorite parts of the entire evening was learning a line dance with Andrew. He was mortified that Justin would be taking pictures and was into it for a while but then bowed out in the middle. Nick stepped in and finished off the dance with me.
We went on the train and I tried taking pictures but had the wrong lens so the pictures were super close and the flash was really bright. As if you couldn't tell from Andrew's face.
We visited the quilt display at the old hospital. I didn't get any pictures of the quilts because I was too worried that the boys would touch the displays but they were pretty amazing. Some of them dated back to the 1800s.
We went to the printing press, saw a puppet show, and made handmade ornaments.
My favorite part is the live nativity. This year they staged it in the stable and as we walked by the shephards welcoming us the beauty of everything hit me so hard that I started crying. Walking into the stable was smelly, flies and animals were everywhere, and there was Mary and Joseph looking content and proud with their sweet little one bundled up to protect him from the cold. It was absolutely beautiful.
This is the true meaning of Christmas. Our Savior and His love for us. I wish I could remember as I am planning for Christmas to do more service and not jam pack every day full of silly things because Christmas needs to find our hearts. Needs to seep in and fill in the cracks of our broken souls and build us up so we can build up others. Christmas is a time for meditation and reflection, not running amuck and feeling stressed. My goal for next Christmas is to do less and feel more and hopefully by doing so, teach my children that you need to slow down to let the spirit talk to us and help us understand what we need to do and that by serving others, especially around Christmas, is the best way to show our Heavenly Father and his precious son how much we love them.
I am not saying that I don't like the festive spirit and doing fun things throughout the month but I just need to tell myself it doesn't need to be forced and to see what occurs when we just let things happen to us rather than making things happen.
We visited Father Christmas and the boys were able to tell them their wishes and received a candy cane.
I absolutely cannot wait for next year's visit.