Every year, as Christmas gets closer, I find myself looking through pictures of previous Christmas celebrations, especially the ones since I became a Mom. Christmas has always been special to me, but it took on a whole new meaning once I became a Mom. When I was a kid I always loved baking cookies with my mom, helping her wrap presents (especially my Dad's- I always wrapped his stocking stuffers). I loved the glow of the Christmas lights, singing carols, reading "The Night Before Christmas", and watching the classic Christmas movies. Once I became a Mom, I had someone to share all of those with. Now that my girls are getting older, I am not only passing on my childhood traditions, but my husband and I are adding new ones too. We bake the same cookies my Mom always did, but now we add in a couple my Mother-in-Law used to make. We have an Elf on the Shelf named Frisbee ( the girls love him), we go see Santa at Busch Gardens, and we make ornaments. Every Christmas Eve the girls get to open two presents- their new Keepsake ornaments, and new matching jammies. I am hopeful that they will carry a couple of these traditions on with their own families some day.
I love watching my family grow and change over the years. We've had several good Christmases, and a couple tough ones over the past 8 years.
2003-Baby's Very First Christmas:
My oldest was born exactly 1 week before Christmas. Her due date was December 16th, and as is true with most first babies, she was a few days late. Since she was an emergent c-section we spent an extra day in the hospital and got home on December 22nd. I spent that Christmas laying on my sofa, snuggling my new baby girl- the very best Christmas present I ever got. She spent her first Christmas napping:-)
2004-Baby's 2nd Christmas
Her first visit to see Santa. She would not sit on his lap without me, but as long as I was holding her she was happy.
Catherine also gave me a very special gift that year- she started walking the day after Christmas.
2005- Baby's 3rd Christmas: Family Reunion in Philadelphia:
Our 3rd Christmas as parents was our last as a family of 3. I was 4 months pregnant with our 2nd daughter that year.
That year my husband's family had a family reunion up in Philadelphia, where his Mom's family is from. We spent 4 days up there with his sisters and brothers-in-law, our niece and nephew, Aunts and Uncles, my in-laws, and his grandparents. This was my first trip to Philly, so we did a little sightseeing while we were there. Not a lot, I was still suffering from miserable morning sickness at that time. But we did make a trip to Valley Forge, which is where the picture below was taken.
This year we were just glad to have made it through 2006 as a family of 4. Our 2nd daughter almost did not make it past her first few days of life, so we had so much to be thankful for this Christmas. I have tons of pictures, but far too many to share. We spent the day in our new house, with my parents and old family friends.
We had a quiet Christmas that year. Our family was still reeling from our daughter's Cerebral Palsy diagnosis, and my father's diagnosis of cancer.
2008- A Time for Family and Friends:
Things were starting to look up, but again we had a quiet Christmas. We did have an old college friend of mine join us for the week of Christmas that year.
Visiting with Santa at Catherine's preschool party.
Christmas morning with my Sam after we were done opening presents. This is my absolute favorite picture of me and Sam- all snuggled up, just totally HAPPY.
2009- Beach Christmas:
Other than the year our 1st daughter was born, this is my very favorite Christmas so far. This was the year of our Outer Banks Beach Vacation. We rented a huge house directly on the beach and spent the entire week of Christmas with family. We brought ALL of our Christmas decorations with us, even bought a real tree to bring with us! We spent the week cooking delicious meals, baking cookies, walking on the beach looking for shells, watching Christmas movies and just relaxing. My husband's parents joined us for part of the week as well, so our daughters had both sets of Grandparents that year for Christmas. Oh, and I was again 4 months pregnant this year, this time with our youngest daughter. But this time- no morning sickness so it was much more enjoyable!
This was the year we started the tradition of going to Busch Gardens Christmas Town to see Santa.
The house we rented for the week. It was AMAZING!
Christmas Night- 2 very happy little girls.
2010-A Very Rare White Christmas:
We had a very busy Holiday season last year. Not only had we added another daughter to our family, but since the girls are older we had more things to do.
Our middle daughter played Mary in her school Christmas Pageant.
Christmas Eve at my parents' house as is tradition:
Christmas Eve before bed: My very favorite picture of my 3 girls.
And we got to spend the holiday with some AMAZING friends, that we are missing so very much this year.
We also had a very nice surprise- a White Christmas! So much snow that we actually got snowed in for a day. But that was fine with us! Our friends stayed with us, all of our daughters got to play in the snow (and so did we). It was a fantastic day!
2011-And that brings us to Christmas Present:
It's hard to believe we started this whole parenting adventure EIGHT years ago this year!
It's easy to forget with all the materialism surrounding the holiday season now, but the very greatest gift of all, is the gift of FAMILY.
From my family to yours MERRY CHRISTMAS.