Friday, January 6, 2017

Christmas Weekend 2016

Remember in a previous post, where I mentioned letting memories go? That was kind of my approach to Christmas this year.

The last two Christmases we've had our video camera rolling so we can capture the kid's as they come out of their bedrooms. Then we keep it rolling for a good 15 minutes as well all take turns opening presents.This year, we hardly snapped a photo.

But I must document the memories here because we enjoyed Christmas in Illinois with our extended Szilagyi family. Last year we were invited to some Church friends' house for brunch on Christmas Eve. They had this little gathering of friends because all five of their grown kids (and accompanying spouses and children) were in town to celebrate Christmas together. They honestly came from all corners of the country (Oregon and Florida being the furthest away) to celebrate together. I remember being struck by their choice to all travel during (potentially) horrible winter weather and sacrifice the comfort of Santa coming to their own homes when the joy of small children is at a peak (the bulk of their kids' are the age of my own). I remember thinking "this is a family that knows what is most important during the holiday season."

And then, when we traveled to Illinois later Christmas day and Reid asked if "that is all" the presents Grandma and Grandpa gave him I knew we had to do better next year. So I convinced Ben we should spend all of Christmas weekend at his parents' house. But I didn't want to force the kids into anything. When I asked them about it they were thrilled, even after I explained this meant they wouldn't be able to play with some of the toys Santa might bring them (any toys with small pieces that might be hard to contain). They said this wouldn't bother them at all and they couldn't wait to spend time with family.

We still had a "is that all" moment (from Nell) this year. And Reid was NOT happy about having to wait to build his new Legos at home ... but I know in their hearts my kids truly wanted to be with Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Lauren and Aunt Sam more than they wanted those toys. I've decided, like with all things, I just need to lower my expectations.

I can't honestly expect my kids to be perfect throughout the entire gift receiving holiday. Two years ago we opened family presents all day throughout Christmas Eve. The idea was we'd counteract any misplaced feelings the kids might have over the arrival of Coraline (who they'd just met the day before). Then Santa came Christmas morning. The next day we went to the airport to pick up my parents -- who of course brought a couple of gifts. And then two days later a big group of Szilagyi Aunts and Great Uncles and cousins and grandparents came and gave the kids more gifts. I'll never forget Reid ripping through a present his cousin gave him, tossing it aside, and then frantically looking for the next treasure he would be sure to show zero gratitude for.

I was disgusted.

So last year, when he asked "is that all?" as he stared at the remainder of the presents that were under Grandma and Grandpa's tree (they were for the other cousins) I had just about had it with Christmas. Two years in a row of complete selfishness?!?!

But when I step back I can see how, to a four-year-old, getting several presents a day for four days in a row might make you kind of numb to the gratefulness and magic of Christmas. (Still, every time he builds that Duplo Castle I want to snap a picture and send it to his Aunt and Uncle who used their hard earned dollars to buy it and say "he really does love it, I promise!") His question the following year, though unacceptable, was simply him wanting us to double check the still wrapped packages for any trace of his name.

As for Nell's behavior this year -- I immediately shot her an evil eye and she moved on. A few hours later I held her in my lap and asked why she was so disappointed when she looked inside the diaper bag she so desperately wanted. "I thought it would come with the play phone," was her innocent answer. She'd been coveting the American Girl Doll diaper bag that came with several accompanying accessories, but we couldn't justify the high cost of her most prized toy and instead bought an equally adorable (non brand name) bag off Amazon. The only problem was -- it didn't come with all the accessories she had wanted. So of course when she looked inside her response was an innocent (and ungrateful) "is that all?"

Sigh. One year we'll get Christmas right.

As for everything else (wasn't that a crazy side story?), our Christmas could not have been better. We let the kids open their sibling presents on the morning before Christmas Eve. It was Reid's first day home for break and they had all been dying to know what they choose for each other (that's a lie -- Nell knew what Reid got her and Coraline had no idea what was going on -- but Reid, Reid was dying to know what was under the tree for him). Knowing we wouldn't be in our own home Christmas Eve, we decided to let them open them a day (and a half) early.

It started snowing, a beautiful snowfall, early Friday afternoon and wasn't scheduled to stop until about midnight. This meant we couldn't take off until Saturday morning, but as soon as we woke up we started getting ourselves ready to leave.

Once we crossed the border into Illinois we pulled into a gas station where we met Sam and Lauren and gave them Reid and Nell so the four of them could go to a movie together. We never take the kids to the theater so it was quite the special treat. They saw Sing and shared some candy -- they were happy kids I'm sure.

Later that afternoon we sent them outside to play in the beautiful fresh snow and they were lucky enough to have Aunt Lauren join them for some snowman building. Correction: snow-woman.

It was probably the highlight of Reid's life (his mouth may be covered, but I can tell those eyes belong to a huge smile). He has been dying to make his first snowman. I'm just so glad I didn't have to help him! What a fabulous Aunt Lauren is.

Around dinner time we headed over to Julee's house (Aunt Jamie's mother) for some yummy, yummy food and lots of fun cousin time. Nell and Allie pretty much disappeared the moment we arrived and Reid and Jackson started a pool noodle fight that had them both sweating like pigs. I love how much fun those four (in their respective pairs) have when they play together. I need to capture more pictures of them, but it's so heavenly to have them run off and play that I never think to disturb them!

Hopefully Parker and Coraline will be playing together soon too. They have their moments, but they are about as kind to one another as you'd expect two, two-year-olds to be!

The classic Scrooge movie was going on in the background (a Szilagyi family tradition) and Rick and Carol's car detoured to see some great Christmas lights (the other half of the Szilagyi family Christmas Eve tradition). Our van headed straight home (party poopers, or would that be baby poopers?)

I already detailed how most of Christmas morning went -- anxious, poutty, ungrateful kids. Sheesh! Really, they weren't that bad. Santa decided to forgo lots of wrapping, since we were at Grandma's and all. He (she) thought these adorable Target bags would be sufficient. I totally overestimated how big their items were and ended up shoving a ton of tissue paper in the top half of each bag.

We looked through our stockings first. The kids got some clothing items, band aids, toothbrushes, candy, and art supplies. Then we let them pour into their big bags. Reid got a dino lego set, a robotic scorpion building set (he's never played with) and the nutcracker I mentioned back here. Nell got her accessory limited diaper bag, cash register, and a hair stylist imaginative play set. Coraline also got a diaper bag (it was stuffed with some of the accessories Nell's was lacking) and a chef imaginative play set. Santa was kind enough to put a cute church book in Mara's stocking, but that will clearly be played with by the big kids long before she enjoys it. 

Grandma and Grandpa spoiled them each with some movies and books and games. They gave Reid his most coveted dino Lego set (photoed below), Nell some fairy wings she adores, Coraline a doll she couldn't put down, and all three of them a (basement) trampoline they have LOVED. As I mentioned above, it was hard not to open up everything and play with it right away, but by the time we were done with church they seemed to be embracing their reality. 

Yes, Church! I love when Christmas falls on a Sunday because we get to go to Church. I know that seems so odd to all other Christians. As a friend of mine recently joked "that's the one day a year the rest of us do go to Church!" I was especially excited to get a photo of Mara in the very same Christmas dress I wore when I was a newborn! Being just two days apart has it's advantages. 

When I asked Ben if he'd hate me if I tried to get a family photo of us all in our SUNDAY BEST on CHRISTMAS DAY, he said yes. Yes, he would. And he meant it because he loaded us all up the moment the meeting was over, and then he took a nap before Reid and Nell made it home. So individual photos by the tree were the best I was going to get.

Which is quite alright because even then Coraline had to be lured in with a piece of chocolate. 

(my heart just swoons every time I see that picture of Nell)

Had to show off the Dino

Mara's were taken a couple hours after the others (she was napping with Dad), so she didn't have as good of light darn it.  

After everyone who needed a nap got one, Brian and Jamie's family came over for some more playtime and dinner. The basement is all cleared out so Aunt Lauren watched the kids go crazy down there while most of the other adults and Noah played a couple rounds of Qwirkle. 

Dinner was delicious as always. Carol makes some brussel sprouts that are to die for. I need to add them to my own holiday dinners some day. We all went to bed very happy and full. It was a lovely Christmas and I am really glad we went to Illinois to spend the entire weekend with family. 

1 comment:

Megan said...

I think Christmas is actually really hard on kids. We tried to do a few advent things and focus on the Savior all month and by the time Christmas rolled around, I was completely out of energy. Matthew was completely crazy, throwing tantrums regularly. It was all just too much. Next year I think we will celebrate for something more like a week instead of a month. Glad mine is not the only child who struggles to grasp the real meaning of Christmas.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...