The Holidays 2019

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As 2019 is coming to an end, I’m taking some time to reflect on our 2019 Christmas season. It was a time of ups and downs for me, but in general a happy holiday this year. Even while I was in the thick of things, I thought to myself— why am I doing this?! Because doing more “Christmassy” activities throughout December make me happier? Because I’m trying to make special holiday memories with my children? Perhaps I planned too much. I realized that less is more. Even though I made a deliberate effort to schedule less, plan fewer things with friends, plan fewer family activities, it still felt like a little too much at time. At the same time, December is always one of the busiest times of year at work for me, so that doesn’t help either. In the end, it was a joyful time for us. There are some holiday traditions that I just can’t let go of. Even if it feels like too much at certain moments, I need these things to make me feel like I’m home. Especially at this magical age for my children.

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In random order some of the things we did this Christmas season:

Decorating gingerbread cookies from Ikea, family day trip to the Aachen Christmas market, ice skating (!?) & rides at the Maastricht Christmas market, Christmas brunch with the Jansens in Gorinchem, lots of cookie (and brownie) baking, Flora’s Christmas market at school, movies with Flora & friends for Frozen II, Thanksgiving at Ann’s, lots of naps on the couch for Thibault, reading Christmas books at bedtime, singing the 12 days of Christmas and Thibault’s 5 golden rings solo, decorating the Christmas tree, baking cookies with Ann, hosting Christmas Eve with friends & colleagues, watching Elf and Home Alone as a family, Flora losing two more  teeth, holiday caroling & Talent Show at work, getting the flu (again!?)…the list goes on a little bit more, but I realize how insane this looks now.

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Despite the busyness, there were many magical moments. Flora has the Christmas spirit. She loves everything about the holidays and is not obsessed with gifts. I’m so grateful for that. She asks Sinterklaas for 3 toys and wants the rest as a surprise. I just love that.

Some other moments to remember: Flora telling us how much she loves Sint and Santa, Thibault knowing who Santa is and that he brings present, reading the Christmas story with them at bedtime, watching Flora play with her Lego gifts for hours on end, Thibault wanting to learn how to ride his new bike that’s too big for him..I really feel like this is a magical age for us. With all of this, I also want the story of giving and kindness that surrounds the Christmas story to also be a part of our family. I have memories of my father sharing with us what the real meaning of Christmas is. Even though he is not a religious man, he made sure the true spirit of Christmas was central. I hope that these two grow up with that same feeling.

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