Thursday, December 26, 2013

December Traditions

December, with its one day left, has been really great this year! It was a big fuzzy blur of the traditions we've come to pack into every winter. Here's the highlight real for December 2013.

Who knew buying lights could be so fun?

Tree Shopping Time! When asked if we should get our tree at the tree farm or Whole Foods, Josephine answered "Really we should just get it at Whole Foods. That's where we get everything else so it makes sense." She was right. We had a blast and found the perfect tree (even if it didn't have a top, we still vowed to love it).

The trip yielded two of my favorite holiday photos this year.

I'm not bagging on anyone else's traditions, believe me, I'm not. But if you ever hear me say we should get an artificial tree, someone please take my temperature & call my emergency contact.

This year we added a new neighborhood tradition - the North Avondale Luminaria Walk. It was such a wonderful night and we joined school friends for a lovely stroll around Rose Hill.

One one particularly warm night, we headed to the Festival of Nights with everyone else in a 500 mile radius. It wasn't the best idea we ever had, and we may have had tater tots dipped in nacho cheese for dinner, but it did get us into the holiday spirit.

The girls kicked their holiday-themed art work into high gear.

We spread the tree-trimming over the course of several days so we could really enjoy the process instead of rushing through it. The whole thing took us about a week. White lit trees really are beautiful (and my mom seriously knocks the white tree out of the park) but I absolutely love our rainbow tree with rainbow lights and rainbow felt garland. This year we really piled it on. It's a "say yes" time of year.

Every year we try to spend a good chunk of our time making gifts for others. This year we had help from HaloMiner. Local Cincinnati folks, please check this place out. It's on the site of a family favorite spot - Brazee School of Glass. There's a good chance you've seen lots of their products for sale across the city. They have this amazing little studio with great upcycling projects! On this afternoon, we made earrings and necklaces out of soda cans, gloves out of old sweaters, ornaments out of wallpaper samples and an atlas, and a pillow out of donated upholstery samples. We had SO much fun and will definitely be back for more classes!

Meanwhile, back at home, the holiday decorations trickled out of boxes and into the loving arms of two little girls.

It was fun this year to really watch Beatrice embrace the season!

 One morning, Bea and I headed to the Aquarium to see Scuba Santa and his seahorse sleigh.

One afternoon, I took the girls to the Museum Center for one final jaunt on the holiday train. I'm not kidding, Bea went at least a dozen times to the holiday trains this year. She couldn't get enough. Many days she practically had the place to herself.

The girls had their first visit with Santa. In fact, the first happy photo of both of them with Santa since Bea hasn't been real thrilled with the idea until now.  They had about five minutes with Santa since there was no one else in line. The picture doesn't do him justice; he really was quite jolly. As they did the countless times they were asked this month, Josie asked for "a loom" for Christmas and Bea asked for "a squeaky pig."

After meeting Santa, he became a regular around here.

Quick quote courtesy of Bea: I'm giving Santa a 'peanuts.' (Hence Josie's look.)

 In keeping with holiday tradition, we made homemade candy cane ice cream again this year. It was delicious!

Another favorite holiday tradition is the girls' annual cookie-making trip to Grandma & Granddaddy's house while we do what moms and dads do on late nights as the end of December approaches. The girls have really grown to love this trip and count down to it with almost as much enthusiasm as Christmas Day itself.

 Lou and I had a great day - starting with sushi at our new favorite spot. It just so happened to be SantaCon which made for pretty entertaining lunch across the street from the bar.

We started another new tradition on what is only our 2nd Christmas in this house - we lit our very first fire here. It was really lovely and wonderful.

The report from Xenia was holly and jolly!

What's December tradition without a good holiday party? Well, ours was a little different this year.  We had a very FaceTime Christmas - calling into the Getting Smart party happening in Washington. We donned our ugly holiday gear best and opened gifts, listened to carolers, and laughed a lot as per the usual with my awesome work crew.

While we didn't make nearly as many cookies as we made last year, we did get one good batch of reindeer cookies in this year.  It as an absolute Christmas miracle that Bea did not get ill from all the dough she ate. I'm not kidding; she was pounding it!

 One of our final traditions before the actual holidays hit was a visit from the girls' older cousins. It was a flurry of bracelet-making and playmobil fairy story-telling. What fun!

For the third year running, we headed to see the Awaited Christmas show. This year we were really excited to share this tradition with my parents again this year and with The Austins who made the trip down to Cincinnati for the show. We're so proud of our dear friend who has given a big piece of herself to this production and really grateful to her for including our family every year.

With that, we have arrived at  "Christmas Eve Eve" - the night when Santa comes to our house since gifts are delivered here on December 24th. And that my friends deserves its very own post.

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