Lessons from last year’s Christmas

Christmas tree, elves, grandchildren

Grandsons beneath the Christmas tree

I wrote this post in January of this year and am reposting to help remind myself of what I came away with after hosting last year’s Christmas. This year, we are hosting a different and much larger group. It  will include my oldest step-daughter, her husband and their three children, ages ten, eight and four; my youngest step-daughter, her husband and their two children ages nearly three and four months; my brother and his two children, ages 13 and 12 and the Queen of the party will be my mother, who is coming in from Wisconsin, and whose birthday we will celebrate on January 2. Luckily my sister and her husband and her daughter, aged 13, live nearby, so they will join us as well.

We’re almost done with shopping, and now we are beginning to focus on decorating the house, and selecting menus. I’m so excited, and I hope you will share the lesson’s you’ve learned below. xo 

We took our Christmas trees down a few days ago and I miss them. Seeing them laying out there on the side of the street, waiting to be picked up and ground into mulch makes me feel like I have betrayed the trust they put in me to care for them. They did their job of making our home so full of holiday spirit and this is how I thank them? Is that weird?

We put up two trees this year, a big one in the living room decorated by my husband. White lights, then the plain shiny bulbs are placed deep on the branches, then the larger, interesting ornaments on the outside of the tree so they are the most noticeable.

I decorated the smaller tree that we put up in the dining room. I put on colored lights, then I garlands of popcorn and cranberries that I had strung, then tons of shiny small ornaments all on the outside of the tree, topped off with lots of tinsel.

They were both beautiful in their own way.

I loved our holiday this year. I feel like I really got it right this time. Part of it was due to listening to my brilliant mother-in-law who kept reminding me to keep my menus simple. I did, and it made all the difference. I was able to concentrate on having fun and being creative and wasn’t as exhausted as I normally am after creating a series of giant complicated meals, then cleaning the kitchen for hours before beginning again.

Christmas tree

The small Christmas tree with colored lights.

I am very insecure about my ability to be crafty, or creative around the house, so I often don’t even try beyond a centerpiece I buy from a florist. But this time, I was so inspired by my step-daughter’s house last year, I was determined to make the house extra special, and with the help of my husband, mother-in-law, my friend Erin and Lynn, the florist at Sonoma Market – it was.

Christmas centerpiece, shed elk horn

Christmas centerpiece using a gold-painted shed elk horn!

Christmas table decorations

My finished Christmas table with all the decorations.

Christmas mantel decorations.

The mantel with evergreen garlands, sparkly moose and nutcrackers.

Christmas decoration

These sparkly reindeer were kind of a theme all through the house.

I have tried to create a tradition of baking homemade Christmas cookies with my niece, and have been lucky to do it most years.

Baking Christmas cookies

Christmas cookie baking with my niece in 2006

Baking Christmas cookies

Baking Christmas cookies, 2007

Baking homemade Christmas cookies, 2008

Baking Christmas cookies 2008

Baking Christmas cookies 2012

Baking Christmas cookies, 2012

I thought I wasn’t going to be able to make the Christmas cookie thing happen this year. I was so overwhelmed with getting the house ready and we didn’t seem to finish our shopping until the very last moment. But, I rallied and made Christmas cookie dough on the night of the 23rd (my husband’s birthday), rolled them out and baked them and made frosting on Christmas eve morning. That afternoon, we attended an early service and live nativity at St. Andrews Church.

Christmas nativity

A wise man, his camel, and two of our grandsons!

After we got home, I set the kids up with the cookies, frosting and all the decorations and set them loose to create edible cookie art while I got dinner going. It was so precious, I could hardly stand it.

Baking Christmas cookies

Decorating Christmas cookies with two grandsons and our niece!

Christmas cookies

The tradition continues, 2013

And here’s a (rather blurry) picture of the beautiful decorations the kids (and a few adults) created!

Decorated Christmas cookies

Decorated Christmas cookies!

The whole holiday was just magical. I was proud of myself for putting in the extra work, delighted that I felt it paid off in terms of the beauty I created for my family, the traditions I continued to pass on and the love we were all able to enjoy… and so grateful for all the help everyone gave so willingly and eagerly.

I cannot wait for Christmas again. I feel like I am finally getting the hang of this thing.

How were your Holidays? Did you learn a new trick to make them better this year? Do something wrong that you’ll try to never repeat? Tell me your stories!

1 Comment

One response to “Lessons from last year’s Christmas”

  1. avatar Sharon says:

    Lig — the photo of your daring niece holding the blue star cookie, and your RUG clearly visible…had to tell you that we have that EXACT same rug! In our family room! My you have excellent taste!