It seems like I shouldn’t let the holidays pass without posting about all of the festivities. Even though it’s a few days late, and even though this probably could have been four separate posts, here goes …
We have a lot of traditions we do each year, some started with just me and Mr. G, some started when Pumpkin was born. This year was the first year Peanut was able to participate in some of the activities, which made everything even more fun.
On the first weekend in December, we decorated a gingerbread house. Remembering we’d done it the year before, Pumpkin had asked me about it nonstop for days beforehand. I handled assembly and the girls art directed. When Pumpkin asked why there were no people (the kit from last year included them) Mr. G appeared with Sour Patch Kids, which did the trick.
Next up was the tree. They both helped hang the non-glass ornaments. Peanut would just set the ornaments on the branches and stack a whole bunch close together, it was really cute. (Over the course of the month the tree was up, she did manage to break four ornaments, and they kept getting moved higher and higher, but three of the four were fixable.)
Breakfast with Santa at Pumpkin’s school came the following weekend. We tried to prep Peanut by talking about Santa and showing her pictures, but once it was time to sit on old St. Nick’s lap, she freaked. Pumpkin did not share her apprehension, and even tried to calm her, but it didn’t work. Once Peanut wasn’t on his lap anymore, she waved and said “Santa!” every time she saw him.
Later that afternoon, we went to see The Nutcracker. I decided to make this an annual tradition when Pumpkin was about 15 months old, and since Peanut was almost 2 I figured we could give it a shot with her, too. We found Groupon tickets to a production close to home so we wouldn’t waste too much money if it was a disaster, brought a lot of snacks, and snagged aisle seats near the back. Pumpkin, who sat through the entire show at ages 2 and at 3, has decided at age 4 she needed to perform rather than watch and danced up and down the aisles. My mother-in-law and I did end up taking turns walking around with the girls, but we managed – barely – to stay through the whole show.
For the past two years, Mr. G has taken Pumpkin to Zoo Lights after the holidays. This year, we decided the whole family would go and made it one of our Advent Calendar activities. I was really impressed with all the lights! Pumpkin remembered riding the Carousel and doing Camel Rides with her dad in the past years and asked about them the whole car ride, so we did both of those things, in addition to watching the light shows and walking around to see the displays and try to catch glimpses of the animals that weren’t sleeping. Peanut was a few days shy of being old enough to do the Camel Rides and she was so bummed about it. Next year!
On Christmas Eve, our tradition is to bake and decorate cookies for Santa in the morning. This was Peanut’s first year to do this, too, and she especially enjoyed the sprinkles, eating them by the handful.
Most years, we go to an afternoon church service with my in-laws on Christmas Eve, and then my mother-in-law makes pizza for dinner, as has been their family tradition for years. (Mr. G and I carried on this tradition even when it was just the two of us in Reno.) After dinner, we came home to discover two gifts left out for the girls – Christmas jammies!
The girls put on their new pajamas, each chose a cookie for Santa and we also left some egg nog and carrots (for the reindeer, of course). After all the excitement of the day, they went straight to sleep.
We had a really fun Christmas morning. We had told Pumpkin the rules ahead of time: if she woke up first, she was not allowed to open presents, and should play in the play room (as she does most days) until we got up. We also explained how things would go once everyone was up: stockings first, then breakfast (egg nog French toast every year), then we could open the rest of the presents. She came in our room very excited: “Mom, when I saw the lights (on the tree) I thought Santa was here! He’s not, but he left presents!” She was way too excited to play in the play room and looked at all the gifts and tried to read the labels. After everything was examined, we watched TV until Peanut and Mr. G were up, and when she went through her stocking, every gift may as well have been a million dollars. “FROZEN Bandaids! Just what I always wanted!” It was so great. I don’t know how long this phase lasts, but I loved it. Peanut didn’t quite get it, but I have high hopes for next Christmas.
This really was a magical season and I love keeping these traditions that the girls remember and talk about year after year.