Christmas. My very favorite. I love it. Plan it for months. Love celebrating it with our children. It is the best - a season where Christ is highlighted as I wish he was all year. Goodness dwelling in the world. People are nicer, sweeter. The picture above captures the feel of the season for me (other than love, of course, which the picture does not show). Warm colors, peace, golden light of candles, and German pyramids displaying the story of Christ's birth. (Tangent: In Germany, all nativity scene related people are in German clothing, surroundings, etc. Woolen coats, hats, evergreens, the likes. Note the shepherds in their dark woolen and long coats. Not until I moved to the United States did it become clear to me that this history takes place in the Middle East and people would look and dress in such a manner. Strange, uh?)
One of my kids' favorite tradition. Despite Hansel and Gretel and being born and raised in the land of Lebkuchen (a gingerbread like cookie that German's are famous for), I don't recall ever even seeing a gingerbread house or train for that matter. Well, maybe at trade shows. Anyhow, the kids love making this and even more so eating this. Nathan may even skip the whole making process if he was allowed to. Isabelle will secretly stuff one candy after another in her mouth. Abby delights in decorating and creating something pretty. Hannah loves to just watch them at this stage. This particular train was gifted to us by Grandma. Thanks, Grandma!
Speaking of the cutie pie, here she is with the little hat that had been worn by Nathan, Abby, Isabelle and now little Hannah.
A hot chocolate bar, or ice cream if you preferred that. This was a new and very simple tradition. We just used what we had on hand, some nuts, cream, peppermint extract, sprinkles and/or white and dark chocolate chips. The kids LOVED it. Nathan chose ice cream while both girls opted for hot chocolate. And again, my beloved German pyramid from my mom. Thanks, mom!!!
Betsy, the newest member of our family. Yes, I'm crazy that way. Just in time for Christmas because she does remind me of a reindeer with her gazelle-like built. She is the cuddliest little dog but quite a bit wilder than Copper. We'll see how it goes. The jury is still out to see if we will keep her. She is quite a bit harder to train than Copper was and with little Hannah around, I'm not sure I have that much time to put into her.
Like I said, the hot chocolate bar was a total hit. It surprised me that Isabelle and Abby chose hot chocolate over ice cream. And another hat that has made its way from Nathan through the line to Isabelle.
Nathan of course chose ice cream. He is also proudly wearing his Premier hat. And another new habit: running around without a shirt on. I'm trying hard to break him of that. He loves to run around in just shorts.
The kids loved decorating their sugar cookies, as they do every year. Here is Abby artistically working from high above the cookie. Her hair is almost straight on the sides now but still curly in the back.
And here are some of the creations. As you can see, lots of frosting is mandatory.
Abby's creation - the figurine.
This, I believe, was Isabelle. Doesn't it look awesome?
Each of them got to pick two cookies to eat right away. Isabelle picked one with, how shall I say, minimal amounts of frosting? And look all around her mouth and the tips of her fingers. She hadn't had any red sprinkles yet. NOT!
The boy meticulously decorating his cookies. Although a lot of events are becoming child's play to him, decorating cookies definitely is not. He still loves it as much as he did when he was little. Probably correlates to the amount of sugar involved in the event.
Our decorating bags.
Nathan proudly showing off his creation which then was devoured with the same amount of pride.
The Man's birthday happened during the Christmas season as well. Look at that happy face! Crab! Unfortunately for him both his girls love crab now too. Isabelle is still (in January) talking about how she wants it for her birthday.
One of the last pictures without big teeth in the front, although you can see them if you look closely (bottom two teeth).
Isabelle goofing off in her pretty Christmas dress. I love her dark, dark eyes. They are so much like her dad's handsome eyes.
The familiar elf took on a different role this year. While the older kids have figured out that the elf is not real, there was no need for the elf to surprise them anymore with strange happenings (although for old times' sake, the elf still did it occasionally). The elf did however hold a heart every day to share an aspect of Christ that they were to imitate. And they had to find the elf every morning. The elf did still hid. Many of the examples were taken from Raising Arrows blog but also from other blogs. In addition to the elf we also did our regular tree advent calendar where the kids could bestow more blessings on others (e.g. to give a hot beverage to the Salvation Army bell ringer) and find one activity (e.g. sing Christmas songs by the fire place, decorate gingerbread train, read Christmas book).
Dave got me this for Christmas after I wanted it from a local school bazaar. One person in our household gets to fill it out and then we display it for a while. Then it is cleaned and the next person gets a turn. This is Abby's list.
Another Pinterest idea, I created this board this year. We didn't really use it this year as we already did the elf and both advent calendars and read Ann Voskamp's "Unwrapping the Greatest Gift". We'll definitely use it next year.
Abby created this beautiful banner. After Christmas I laminated it for her. It was truly creative and Christmas-sy and just warmed my heart.
I love German Christmas decorations made of wood. This is one of those examples. A little something my mom mailed last year but they truly made me happy every single day. The ornaments were affixed to the kitchen hood with poster tack.
And there was the broken finger. Poor little guy. This is the first splint he got. Because the break was at the tip of his finger, they couldn't put a cast on. That made the whole experience so much more painful. And of course it being a finger tip where all the nerves are. Not a good choice if you plan on breaking a finger.
I absolutely adore Christmas. And having all these wonderful people to celebrate it with and for, is just the icing on the cake.