Advent is really the best time of year.
It is a time to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord, which means our lives get to be a little more joyful than usual. I love all the fun traditional Christmas things that involve Santa and the rest, but I really try to make a special point to teach my boys about the true meaning of Christmas. As we watched Charlie Brown's Christmas this year and Linus said, "I can tell you the true meaning of Christmas Charlie Brown," Jimmy shouted out "Jesus!" What a good boy. I was proud. Now if knowledge of Jesus or Santa would just make him actually behave the month before Christmas I would be joyful, but that just did not seem to be the case this year. Still, I love my boys dearly and am so happy to have a family of my own to begin wonderful traditions with. In our house, we start the season out with something simple like turning on the fireplace to read some Christmas books and drink hot cocoa. Not much better than that.
I have posted pictures in other years of our advent wreath (we actually had two this year), and advent calendars (also two), and other Christmas decorations so I figured I don't need to show them again. But they are an important part of the season so I thought I should mention them. The boys love when we light the candles at dinner each night and sing "Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel " They both would attempt to sing along. Also, as I have said before, I don't think I can ever have enough nativity sets. I think we are up to eight so far. One of my favorite new additions to our nativity collection was the one Jimmy made at preschool. I hope it lasts forever. We also did our advent chain this year which leads the boys on a simple treasure hunt to find out a Christmas activity to do that day. Maybe someday I will post my list, but I don't really feel like finding it at them moment. I will give an example: Drive around to see Christmas lights. You get the idea.
Here is another example: Make Christmas Cards for Grandparents.
I am not too on top of the whole Christmas Card thing (and it's expensive) so this year we just made four and two were hand delivered to save on postage.
Our Christmas Craft for the season turned out pretty cute:
I found these cute Nativity Egg Carton Figures so we made out own. I did the cutting, but Jimmy was all about the painting.
Jimmy loves getting out decorations and all things Christmas.
Trying to put off getting a tree (so it won't die) is pretty darn tough with this kid asking you about it every day.
But he is a helper and he is glad to do manual labor like helping Dad by holding the Christmas lights.
In December in Phoenix, we finally get what people in other parts of the world call "Fall"
On Dec. 6, St. Nicholas made his annual early visit to fill the boys' shoes with treats.
Jimmy got a Playmobil St. Nicholas and Gus got a Santa. They both got cake pops, gold coins, and a special note from the man himself reminding them to be extra good so he could come back on Christmas. Since both boys got two coins, we went to church and they each put one in the poor box. I only had to suggest it and they were both very willing. We had watched a Veggie Tales about St. Nick that was very good and helped them understand that he was the man who eventually became who we call Santa Claus. It was a long conversation with Jimmy, but I think I did a decent job explaining.
I think the most important thing he took away was that St. Nicholas wants us to give to others in need. We have also made it a yearly tradition to have the boys pick out a new toy at the store to take to the Children's Hospital. I never got a picture of it, but they picked out a toy airport that Jimmy decided he loved very much and was contemplating asking for himself or using his own savings to buy. Upon Mom's urging, he decided that it could would wait since he was already asking for a Dinosaur Lego set from Santa. It was a little hard for them both to see the toy go, but I think that just made the lesson in giving a little stronger. They were proud of the certificates the hospital gave them in exchange for their gift.
We got two special early Christmas presents this year: A new fridge and stove! I am so happy to have a fridge that doesn't leak and a stove that actually heats up to the correct temperature. And they are so much prettier, too.
Gus hated both of them. In fact, he cried on both occasions when they were installed. He didn't want to see our old ones go, and insisted he didn't want the new ones. Jimmy and I sort of couldn't help but laugh at him. Zach just shook his head at me and blamed me for my children being just like me and having a natural aversion to change. Thank goodness the plumber who put in the stove offered me this giant cardboard box. We made it into a Christmas fort and that made everything better (But Gus does still mention our old white fridge and stove and that he wants back).
We went to the mall with Mimi to see Santa, but it is so gosh darned expensive to get the pictures (at least in Scottsdale) that I decided to opt out this year. Mimi even offered to pay and I said no because it is just too much of a rip off. The kicker was that it turned out really cute. I have done it the past two years and I have cute Santa pictures for them to look at when they are older so I don't feel too bad. We don't need to do it EVERY year. When another Weisse kid is in the mix I will probably want a picture again, but for now I have lots of cute pictures of my boys. I did get some of them window shopping with Mimi though.
Another night we ventured going to the Railroad Park again despite the fact that it was insane last year. I am not going into the embarrassing story from this year, but I am just going to say that God was looking out for me (or more likely my kids) and it ended up being a big success.
The Kerstings joined us which made it all the more fun.
With Gus and Kolbe in full fledged train obsession mode, we figured this was not the year to skip on this event.
The big train is the one with most of the lights and decorations, but we even made it on the little train this year.
We lucked out even more when a kind stranger gave us all her extra tickets and we got to spend them going on the carousel.
When we finally got our tree it was a very cold and rainy day. It made it kind of fun, but we didn't stay in the lot for too long. Good thing we found a good tree fast before we were all soaked.
More on the fully decorated version later.
Gosh, getting ready for Christmas is fun with these guys around.