Thursday, January 1, 2009

December in Review

Family Picture after Christmas Eve service

I had hoped to get a last post of 2008 posted yesterday but it never happened so I will start 2009 with a look back at December 0f 2008.

Rachel has danced in The Nutcracker for the past 7 years and that always makes the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas fly by. We spent Thanksgiving this year in Louisiana with our families and returned home on Saturday night to begin Christmas and Nutcracker preparations. Our family has several traditions at Christmas time and I'll share a few of those with you.

We started our Christmas decorating the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The years we have had an artificial Christmas tree we usually put the tree up on Thanksgiving weekend. For the past several years we have gone back to taking a trip to Pine Grove Tree Farm in Charleston to cut a fresh tree. When we have a fresh tree, we wait a little longer to put the tree up so it doesn't get so dry before we are ready to remove it. This year we took a trip to the tree farm December 6. We love our trips to the tree farm, especially the guys - they drive our 1937 Chevrolet truck to the tree farm!! (We girls usually meet them there - we have to come straight from Nutcracker rehearsal : ) They love the look of a fresh cut tree in that antique truck and so do many others. The guy who loaded our tree this year was so scared he would scratch the truck or something and we had to assure him it was okay - we don't want ours to be just a "look but don't dare touch" truck. It has had trees loaded in the back for the past few years and we love it. We made a stop for pizza on the way home and then started decorating the tree. We usually put our tree in our den where we enjoy it every day, all day. We have a couple of rubbermaid tubs full of ornaments that we have collected through the years. Some ornaments are from Robert and my childhoods. Others are ones that we have gotten since marriage and then there are those that are our kids' and will be passed on to them as they leave home. Most of our ornaments have some meaning behind them so it is always a fun time to reminisce as we hang the ornaments. Rachel has received so many ballet or Nutcracker themed ornaments during her years in The Nutcracker that we finally bought her a tree for her bedroom last year. She fills it up with her ballet and Nutcracker ornaments then puts others on our big tree. I have to admit that as I packed away the ornaments this year, I wondered how many more Christmases I will get to pack away Allan's ornaments. I hope quite a few!!!
1937 Chevy at the tree farm

The decorated tree
The angel that has topped our tree since 1986. Robert and I bought her on a trip to Eureka Springs before we lived in AR.

Allan and Rachel each have their own nativity set that they set out each year. Allan has a Fontanini/Roman "My First Creche" set that we were given at his baby shower. Each year we have given him a new piece to add to the set until this year. He has so many pieces now that they fill a coffee table so we decided that we might not add more pieces unless I find a special piece. Otherwise, he can add to it when he has his own home. Rachel has a Precious Moments mini nativity set. We started hers when she was a toddler mostly because Granny thought Rachel needed to have her own because Allan did!! So began the tradition of trying to find a new piece for hers each year. The only problem was that Precious Moments doesn't have an extensive collection of pieces to add so Rachel's is pretty much complete. Both kids love their nativity sets and enjoy setting them out each year. I suppose that when the kids are grown and gone, it will be time to get my own nativity set.
Allan's nativity set

Rachel's nativity set

Robert and Allan worked on Allan's car for a bit on Christmas Eve and Rachel and I spent some time in the kitchen. We made a variety of finger/party foods for our meal before Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion service at church. Candlelight Communion is one of the highlights of Christmas for me. It's always such a blessing to be still for that hour in the midst of all of our preparations and reflect on Christ's birth, sing carols, and then see the church aglow in candlelight. After church it's been our tradition to drive around looking at lights. We almost skipped it this year because we had driven to Van Buren to look at lights when Robert's parents were visiting. Rachel nearly had a fit that we would NOT go look at lights after church. Soooo, we ended up driving through a different neighborhood than usual and saw some pretty lights. The kids always get to open one gift on Christmas Eve and it's always pj's, slippers, or a robe. This is a tradition carried on from my childhood. I almost skipped it this year in my effort to simplify and I knew Rachel did NOT need any pj's. Then, I realized that Allan did need some pj's so I decided to stick with the tradition. I found a really cute pair of pj's for Rachel at Old Navy that are just cotton (not flannel or fleece) and would be great through spring. Even found matching fuzzy socks, so she was fully taken care of. I finally found something Allan would like at Target. Somehow, it just isn't as fun to shop for boys sleep pants and tee shirts.

Christmas morning, Robert and I realized that we are officially parents of older teens. WE were the ones who were up at 7:30 and the kids slept in till around 9:00. We had a nice Christmas morning enjoying our homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast and opening our gifts. I cooked a chicken and dressing casserole, green beans, fruit salad, and homemade rolls for dinner. It was such a relaxing day!!

As I type this post on New Year's Day, all traces of Christmas (except the nativity sets which will be packed today) have been neatly packed away for another year. We'll look forward to taking them out next year and repeating this all again. I love decorating for Christmas but I also love having my house back to "normal". It always feels good.

I'll back-track a bit and tell you a little bit about Nutcracker. Rachel danced in what was her 7th Nutcracker. She danced the parts of The Spirit of Christmas, a Flower, and a Snowflake. The girls put so much work into this performance - rehearsals begin in September for our ballet company and then the rest of the cast begins in October. Full cast rehearsal begin the first week of November and continue until the performance the second week of December. It is so much work but it is always such a beautiful part of our Christmas season. I tend to gripe and complain about all the volunteer hours it takes but I really do try to enjoy it and know that I only have a few more years that this will be a part of our Christmas. I will miss the busyness one day. It gives us great joy to watch Rachel dance and enjoy something she has worked so hard at. Robert's parents have come each year to watch Rachel dance and some years some of my family has been here as well. This year it was just Robert's parents. We enjoyed having them here for a few days with us. My family was all rejoicing over the birth of a new baby boy in our family that week! My brother and his wife welcomed their second child, Ryan Thomas into the world on December 10. He's such a pretty baby - Rob said I could call him a "pretty boy" until he's about 6 months old and then I can't call him that anymore - lol!!!

We had a wonderful December to remember as we celebrated the birth of our Savior. It is my prayer that you will enjoy at blessed 2009.

I'll leave you with some pictures from our December.
Rachel as a flower with Rachel W. (Clara)

What's Christmas without cookies??

All ready for Christmas dinner
Proud Papa (my brother Rob) with baby Ryan


Rachel said...

The season just wouldn't be complete without Nutcracker!!!! ;)