- Our annual ornament date night got moved to Ocala this year, since our Hallmark store at the mall closed. :( We started this tradition with Cooper the year he was born and I know when our babies grow up and leave home, having their keepsake ornaments from each year will be so special. Of course that means I’ll have to actually give them to them, and who knows how old they’ll be before I do that. :) It’s so sweet to see their little trees in the foyer and remember each ornament and why the chose it. Every year, after they choose their new ornament, I write their name on the box and sometimes a little note about why they chose it. This year’s choices were: Tucker – the little tikes swing (just like the one he has), Maybree- the snowman cookie plate, Annabelle – the little snowman and the girls chose the Cozy Coupe for Cooper’s tree. We’ve reached maximum capacity on their little trees, so I think next year, we may have to get a big tree and put them all together.
only have to it fall over TWICE later that month. We’ve never had that happen before. WHAT a MESS!
One of my favorite things I hang on our tree every year is this bunch of plastic bananas. I usually hang it near the back, because it doesn’t exaclty “match” the rest of the tree, but this year I proudly hung them in the front. My SIL was over one day and asked what was with the bananas on the tree, so I told her the story… and I was a little ashamed of myself that I’d been tucking them in the back of the tree all these years for no one to really see. They’re there as a reminder of the Christmas story my Papa used to tell every year about his own favorite Christmas memory. He grew up during the Great Depression and like everyone else during that time, was very poor. He was plowing behind a mule on Christmas morning, in the freezing cold, and his mother came out to bring him his Christmas present. She reached into her apron and pulled out the treat, which was half of a banana. Let that sink it. HALF of a banana. His hands were so cold that he ended up dropping it in the dirt, but with tear filled eyes, his mother went and washed it off for him. It’s a great reminder during the hustle and bustle of the season, that the greatest things in life aren’t things, and that the greatest gift any of us were ever given was born in the manager. I want my kids to know and to live the true meaning of Christmas and to know there’s so much more to life than ‘stuff.’ So that’s why I hang the bananas – when I get too consumed with the “Christmas stuff” that isn’t even CHRISTmas, I can see them, and refocus.
- We decked the halls and also my car this year. I found these little battery operated LED light sets at the Dollar Tree and bought several to put in the car. The girls LOVED it- they each had a control on their side of the car and they loved turning them on every time we were on the go in December.
- The girls were such big helpers this year with our Christmas cards. We had a little assembly line going on, getting them all stuffed and stamped. It’s so sweet having little girls. These two love anything to do with scissors, paper, and stickers.
- They also love to help in the kitchen. They always look forward to our Christmas baking day and I do, too. This year, mid-way through making one of our treats, Maybree said, “take this apron off me. I’m a princess and princesses don’t wear aprons- now, where’s that crown of mine?!?!” She helped us finish our baking with her crown on. :)
- The Santa Experience 2016 lived up to last year’s greatness. I hadn’t seen any information on the Studio we used last year doing it again, so I was worried we’d just have to hit the mall this year. Literally the Friday before the Saturday and Sunday that they were scheduled to have it, I saw it advertised on their facebook page and made our appointment for that Sunday afternoon. I’d been talking “Ho-Ho” up to Tucker and showing him pictures hoping he wouldn’t be scared of him, and he shocked us all and LOVED him! It was adorable. He calls him, “Ha-Ha,” which is cute enough on its own, but when he reached out to Santa to hold him, it blew my mind. Santa read them a story and then they all took turns telling him what they wanted. Annabelle’s request was a microscope and a laptop. (?) (Insert my “it ain’t happening” face here about the laptop) ha. Mamie requested a bracelet and doc mcstuffins legos. When it was Tucker’s turns, Santa said, “Ok, Tucker, what can I bring you on Christmas?” Tucker looked him square in the face and said, “Bruuuummmm, bruuuummmmm” (which translates to a tractor or other piece of heavy equipment, Santa. :) We ended up ordering the picture collage again this year, because last year’s turned out so precious. When it finally arrived, we were so pleased with it. I have no doubt these will be some of my most treasured Christmas decorations forever.
- The Jingle-Bell Jog 2015 was adorable! All three kids got to run this year. Tucker started out in the Diaper Dash. He was lined up and ready to go. He ended up being the last one to cross the finish line because he took his time waving at the crowd and making his way down. Hilarious.
It was such a fun morning and we loved that we got to spend it with Grammy, Nie-Nie, Nen, Parker, Parker’s Grandma Jo, Aunt Amber & Warren. (Half of our men were in Atlanta watching the Gators play in the SEC and the other ones were working).
A few of the kids’ favorites:
- We went to see the lights at Stephen Foster State Park and every year, just like always, I come home wanting to wrap our big oak trees. Its definitley a retirement goal. :) I liked the way they just had strands dangling down from some of the oaks this year, too. The trains were a hit with the little boys and Mamie was super excited to run into her little friend, Ella.
E & M got to help one of the folk artists sing jingle bells. Mames couldnt have been more thrilled over the song selection- Jingle Bells tops the list of her favorite Christmas songs, along with “Grandma got runned over by a reindeer.” I’m not even kidding. She LOVES that song. I’d also like to note for memory’s sake- that Mamie is the kid who randomly bursts into song at any random time or place. I’ve gotten lots of laughs and even stares (ha) from strangers during this season when they overhear her singing in the grocery store, or in the dressing room, or even from the bathroom stall next door. Ha.
The “snow” was fun to play in and we ended the night with ice cream, because its Florida and it was a really warm December.
- Our three were such cuties in our church’s Christmas program. The big kids sang Christmas songs while the little ones acted out the nativity. Our girls were angels and Tucker-boy was a stable cow. He was unbearably cute and took his job very serious. He stood right on the little step holding on to the rail the entire time. It was darling.
- Light Looking 2015 took us to Ocala instead of Gainesville this year. We’d seen that two families from Ocala had been contestants on ABC’s the Great Light Challenge, so we decided to check them out. I’d also come across an address of a place I heard was fantastic- we went there first and it did not disappoint! The kids loved walking around through the lights and even down to the lake out on the dock. The last two were the ones from the TV show. The amount of lights, decorations and time that went into these yards was unreal. Our only complaint was that there’s not a Krispy Kreme in Ocala, so we couldn’t end the night with hot donuts. We substituted with Peppermint Shakes at Chick-fil-A, so really we didn’t have much to complain about. :)
- This year at Devin’s extended family Christmas party, his aunt who hosted, asked the kids to sing a song for everyone. The girls were very excited to plan what they’d do. They chose Jingle Bells (Mamie’s favorite)- and Annabelle broke it down into parts for everyone. Warren sang the first verse, she sang the second, Mamie did the “Ohhhhhh” and they all sang the chorus together. We got jingle bells for Tucker and Parker and they danced and jingled while the bigger kids sang. It was also Mamie’s idea to make everyone their own jingle bell to ring while they sang. She was so cute about picking the biggest bells we could find and she insisted on helping cut the ribbon and tie them on. They handed them out to the family before thier “performance.”
- AB was the first one to put gifts under our tree. The Santa Shop at school is always a big deal to the kids. Its so sweet to see them go in and “shop” for the people on their list. This year I volunteered two days and it was so sweet. The kids are always so proud of their gifts and it’s just adorable.
I’m not sure if the houses had more candy on them or fingerprints where the littles had been eating the candy off of them.
- Every year the construction company does a BBQ for the employees on the last work day before Christmas. This year, we went, too. Tucker helped Pappy supervise the set up and the tea station. Nobody enjoyed the Whitehurst BBQ more than TDW who sat on the tailgate and devoured his plate, and never let go of his motorgrader while doing it.
- We had a fun play date with Carrie and her crew. We got together to decorate tacky t-shirts. Most people do a tacky sweater this time of year, but- FLORIDA.?!?!?Whitt requested a John Deere tractor on his tshirt, of course. So I cut one out of green felt and he decorated it. He told us Tuck-ter probably wanted a tractor on his shirt, too. So he decorated it for him. The boys had a big time watching a real tractor put out fertilizer next door while the girls bedazzled their shirts. It’s always fun to have the gang together.
- We made a trip back to the Cade’s Christmas lights with Grammy & Pop. We knew Grammy would love the lights. The kids loved getting to run through them again.
- We went to the Christmas Eve service at our church. Tucker ate dum-dums and smarties the entire service. I was subscribing to the “whatever it takes” philosophy to keep him quiet, but all the sugar finally caught up to him and we were all DONE by the time the service was over. Ha. We had eaten our traditional Christmas Eve steaks before going to church, so once we got home, the girls and I made some reindeer food to put out. AB had watched the Polar Express in school, and had told me how much she wanted a jingle bell from Santa’s sleigh. We decided MAYBE if we put out some reindeer food in the yard, the reindeer would land, have a snack and HOPEFULLY a bell would fall off. I “read online” that reindeer love oats, and wouldn’t you know, we just happen to have some in our pantry. We decided we needed something shiny and sparkly to catch the reindeers eye, and Mamie was the first to suggest, GLITTER! Perfect. We sprinkled our reindeer food in the front yard and then the got the littles all jammied and snuggled into bed.
DW and I watched “Four Christmases,” snacked on buckeyes and got ready for Santa.
It was a BUSY December!