how busy the end of the year is!
November has three birthdays and Thanksgiving. December has one birthday, school holidays, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year's Eve. Add that to the normal work, family, school, church, and meeting stuff just means we are plain busy. I've tried to simplify the holidays over the years to counteract the busy-ness. We stay at home - now easy since we live in the same city as our parents. We no longer send cards or have a party. We have minimal decorations and only inside the house. Hanukkah is about lighting candles and latkes. Gifts are pared down. I have always liked to give handmade gifts, which means time spent sewing, knitting, or cooking but not shopping. I use recycled wrappings. We get a real tree, but only the week before Christmas and keep it up for two weeks. We do bake but only one or two special treats like decorated sugar cookies. I'm trying to make family-centered traditions Ely and Agnes will remember fondly.
Last year, Will and I started a new family tradition - Christmas Eve Eve dinner. My mother grew up in a family with Swedish and German roots, so they did most of their celebrating and gift opening on Christmas Eve (though she remembers how much she hated traditional Swedish dinner). We still follow that tradition and cook a special meal and open presents with my family on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is spent opening presents and eating with Will's family at his parents' house. Will used to have Christmas Eve supper at his great-aunts' house. Aunt Ruth and Aunt Lois would always buy corned beef and rye bread from Schwartz's Deli for sandwiches. He remembers the meals fondly, and we thought it would be nice to have a similar dinner for our families at our house. Christmas Eve and Day are already spoken for, so we decided Christmas Eve Eve would be the night for our Reuben dinner. I've added potato-leek soup to the menu , we now buy our corned beef and rye bread at Goldie's Deli (the successor to Schwartz's), and the evening usually ends in a rowdy game of Mexican train domino's. It's a nice way to spend more time with our families in a fun, but low key way.My parents are gave us new carpet as our holiday gift this year, and it was installed last week. It's hard to believe three years passed while we "renovated" our den, but it is done (well 90% done) and we can use and live in part of our house again. Ely and Agnes spent many hours romping around the new room, and playing peekaboo around and end table. They had so much fun, I had to capture their smiles in a photograph. Looks like I also captured two sweet matching faces. I'm looking forward to lots more fun and memories in the new room.