Since we moved to Texas, there was one trip that we knew without a doubt would be on our calendar every year and that was to head back to Kentucky and Indiana for Christmas. Ricky and I are both very close with our families and giving up the family traditions at this time of year wasn't an option.
As our family has grown, the traveling has become both more important (to get the cousins together and for our extended family to see the kids) and more difficult (flying and/or driving with 3 small kids in tow = stressful on our minds and wallets). It also means that we have had to adjust our own family traditions here in Texas to accommodate our traveling.
For the past 3 years we have made it work by writing a letter to Santa asking him to come early. We explain that we will not be at our house on Christmas Day but that we would love for him to visit us on some designated date that best fits our schedule. Having Ethan in Kindergarten this year has made it even more complicated but alas, the letter went in the mail to the North Pole and we counted down the days to our "maybe Santa will come if he can make it work" day. We try to keep an element of mystery to make it more fun for the kids.
So, on December 14th, we baked cookies for Santa, sprinkled reindeer food in the yard and listened to great-grandma's sorely missed voice read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" (those Hallmark recordable books are a treasure I tell you). We snuggled the boys in their beds and told them that IF Santa could make it work, he would visit us that night. A full 10 days early. While it does lose some of it's magic for us, we have to do what we have to do I guess and the boys don't mind one bit.
I thought ages 3 and 4 were fun last year but 4 and 5 were even more fun this time around. The boys lists were more creative (and robust) this year and the excitement coursing through their bodies the night before and on "Christmas" morning was enough to power a small village. We try to emphasize the reason for the holiday, talking a lot about the birth of Jesus and making sure the boys understand that it is never about how many presents are under the tree. I feel comfortable saying that my boys "get it". But let's face it, the excitement that lives in their hearts at this age is all about the gifts.
Aiden was most excited about his new orange Razor scooter and Ethan loved his Polaroid camera (he kept telling me he wanted "one of those cameras that spits out a real picture right when you take it). The other loot included various Star Wars, Angry Birds and lego stuff. But I must say that I need to remember not to give away all the good ideas to my mom and mother-in-law, as it seemed they were more excited about the things each of them got them the following week!
I must have been a very good girl this year as I received a brand new laptop...although Santa got a little tied up and special delivered it a few days late via UPS but hey, I'm not complaining! It came just in time to have it stare at me from atop the box begging me to play on it as I scurried around packing and preparing for our 2 week trip. Although it did make it's way into my carry-on so I had some play-time while we were away :)
Of course the best gift I could have received this year came in a 6 lb. 11 oz. package back in July. Last year at this time we were just sharing the news with family and friends - after a year of trying and two miscarriages, we were finally going to be adding baby #3 to our family. As we visited with family last year, I remember saying "next year at this time we will have a 4 month old baby at Christmas". Fast forward to July and Hudson joined the world 4 weeks early. So instead we had a 5 month old baby at Christmas! What a blessing he has been. We truly couldn't be happier. I am one happy momma!
I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas - whether you spent it at home, with family or had to travel to be with loved ones!