Sunday, November 28, 2010

Big Tree, Small Chiristmas

This year, we have decided early on that we are celebrating Christmas small. Not that we were ever in a financial state to have elaborate Christmases before, but we did spend a good portion of money on gifts. However, I noticed this pattern of having this empty "This is it?" feeling the evening of Christmas day. The disappointment was in no way to refer to the lack of gifts got in return, but that the month long hassle of gift, decoration and clothes choosing and shopping were all because of one day; no, more like a few minutes of that day. Instead, this year we want to celebrate the season and really take the time to reflect on the significance that the birth of Christ has in our lives.   We also want to focus on spending time together as a family going places and doing things instead of me being gone for hours at the time navigating through crowded malls.

A couple of months ago, I asked my children if for Christmas, they wanted gifts or to go places as a family. They all said they wanted to go places as a family.  Their answer was surprising but pleasing to us.  One of the places we love a lot is the Great Wolf Lodge.     The place had a special promotion going on so I solicited several families to join us there.    This will probably be the largest thing we do this season. Other activities will be free or cost little.  Yesterday, for example we took them to the Grotto's Festival of Lights.  I got a great deal through a timely Groupon (again) so a family admission with three hot chocolates cost us $18.

Waiting for a puppet show. 

 Babe chasing goats.  The sugar from the hot chocolate kicked in right about here.  He was attempting to catch and kiss every goat that would let him. 

Doing fun things for less is that much more enjoyable.

Some other things we want to do this year is take kids to a famous street in an established neighborhood where every house is lit up every Christmas.  We will probably do the Follow the Star again this year with them.  The kids love it every year.  This place makes Christmas come alive for them.  Both of these activities are free.  We also want to make it to a couple of Christmas concerts.  We really loved The Singing Christmas Tree a couple of years ago before we had the boys,  but having 5 attendees now might be a bit spendy.  We could probably do it if we sit in less than desirable seats, but then the kids would probably not see the stage well.  Besides these activities I want to make and decorate sugar cookies and drink many hot chocolates all while listening to as much Christmas music as I am able to tolerate.  Singing carols and watching Its a Wonderful Life is also on the list. 

And finally, we want to start a few new family traditions.  We had our first attempt last Friday.  We had a clever idea to drive to a national forest and choose our own tree.  This action was the result of last year's disappointing tree my kids and husband brought home  which they chose in the dark.  It looked hideously small and sorry in our high ceiling living room as few honest relatives cared to comment.  I couldn't wait until Jan. 1 when I almost independently dragged it outside to the curb.  This year, besides many obstacles such as forgetting our warm clothes in a bag in the driveway (don't ask how we managed to do that), getting there when the ranger station was closed for lunch, driving a truck which kept on dying on stops, and then getting all soaked as it was raining, we got our tree.   Keeping all these things in mind, it is understandable why we hurried up and got ourselves this:

Notice the humble gifts below made by our daughter. 

We think the tree is cute and worth the $5 permit we paid for cutting it.   The honest loved ones who did not go through the pain of getting this thing in to our living room called it less desirable names. 
But everyone agrees that it is way better than this:

 Portlanders, what are you doing this Christmas season? 

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