Sunday, December 29, 2013

Holiday Traditions: Spreading out the Love.

"Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas."
-Dale Evans

When you marry, you not only gain a spouse, you gain another whole family. More parents. More grandparents. More siblings. More aunts and uncles and cousins. More love and craziness. When David and I first married, we alternated the holidays between our two families. Thanksgiving with my family, Christmas with his, and so on. Once we had kids, this strategy was seriously compromised. Now we take each holiday as it comes. Christmas is the trickiest since we love to spread out the love between each set, and having divorced parents on both sides only makes things even trickier. Navigating through the holidays can be stressful, but amid all of the scheduling conflicts and what-have-yous is the best of the best: togetherness.

Here are some of the highlights from this year's extended family gatherings.

It started with my side the weekend before Christmas. My little sister was absent, suffering from the flu. The rest of us ate until the top buttons on our jeans threatened to pop, exchanged gifts, chatted and then forced desserts down our over-stuffed tummies.
Keeping the boys busy on the long trek to my hometown.

Frosting cookies with Aunt Hopey.

Acting goofy with the cousins.

Then the weekend after Christmas was dedicated to David's side, with the theme: Winter Wonderland. It was a rare warm December day in Minnesota and we couldn't let it pass without spending as many minutes outside as we could possibly cram in. Garbed in snow pants, winter coats, boots, mittens, hats and scarves, we set out with sleds to tackle a big hill on a snow-covered cornfield. We weeeeeee'd our way down, and then were fetched from a kind old man on a Kubota to bring us back up. We only breaked for naps; then set out again later in the afternoon. Afterwards, we snuck in food and gifts and a bunch of togetherness.

Hitchin' a ride.

Meet Ted the Snowman, as named by my 4-year-old.

We snuck away during naps. As my husband was driving the Kubota, he says ever-so-nonchalantly: Let me know when you want me to stop for a selfie. Yes, he knows me well.

We tried photographing our shadows kissing, but it just looked like two blobs melding into one. We did this instead.

Back at it again; only this time the cousins joined us.

Opening our homemade gifts. I made a quilt with squares personalized by all the grand kids. My SIL modge-podged pictures onto giant letters spelling GRANDMA.

The next day was the final round with David's family as we gathered at our house for brunch. The cousins squealed downstairs, overtired and overstimulated, yet still managed to get along pretty well. A few hours after everyone had gone--the boys still wiping the sleep from their eyes after their long naps--they declared they already missed their cousins.

As we clean and purge this week, removing the evidence of Christmas, it'll be nice to begin a new season of our lives. the weeks pass, I'll smile when I unearth pine needles stuck in tiny crevices around the house, reminders of our wonderfully beautiful holiday season. It came and went all too quickly, but it'll be here again sooner than we realize.

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