Christmas

All is calm, all is bright, those are the words that kept coming through my head over and over again Christmas Eve. As I walked out side and looked at the luminaries that my sons and I put out in front of the house, all was calm.

There has been a lot going on lately it seems and it is things that are not outside of the norm. Work, preparing for Christmas, Family obligations, etc. But in the midst of the chaos, life has not been calm lately, far from it to be honest. I feel that I’m worn down and in a difficult place in life.

And by difficult, I mean, life. Life has been life. Let’s be honest, as parents, we deal with a lot on any given day. We have the stresses of work. We have the stresses of financial bills. We have the worry of knowing that we are putting our kids on a bus each day and trusting that someone other than us will protect them.

But in the midst of chaos of last week, I found a since of calm. I stopped all of the work issues for  a few days. I put aside all of the financial stress and worry, granted it is still there, but for last week, as we approached Christmas, life was ok.

As parents, we want to always do what is right by our kids. We put their needs first and ahead of our own. I will go with out in order to give my kids something that I did not have. I learned that lesson from my mother and though she will never told me all that she sacrificed, I know that she did. And I’m doing the same for my kids and no, I will not tell them either. Why? Because it isn’t important.

So, Christmas Eve, after attending our old church for the early service and as soon as I walked in, I was at peace. Granted, that did not last very long, as Boy B wasn’t happy that they did not have a children’s service in his old class and had to stay with us. But never the less, I enjoyed watching the service on tv in the lobby of the church. Point being, even in the chaos of that moment, I was calm.

And as we got home, we started putting candles in the bags and lining them up on the street. This was a tradition that I had when I was a kid and it was something that I LOVED doing each and ever year. And for me as a kid, it didn’t seem like Christmas until we did the luminaries.  And as we braved the cold and the wind and a few quick snow showers, we were able to light the street up in front of the house all the way to the front of our home. And then, all was bright.

All is calm, All is Bright - Christmas Luminaries

So, as I type this, the after Christmas, the calmness has subsided and chaos has returned. But I left the house this morning with two little boys laughing and playing with their new toys.

From my family to yours, I hope that you had a safe and Merry Christmas.

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Merry Christmas! Well, the boys were up early this morning and had a blast and that is really all that I can say. We did a few things differently this year, but I will have to say, the boys absolutely loved the morning.

Instead of doing a lot of box store shopping, we shopped via Amazon and though it took a lot out of it, the convenience factor for my wife and I really played a big part in that. We also decided to cut back a little too on gifts and instead of doing for friends and family, that we would have people over for dinner.

As we get older and since I’m 7 years older than my wife, I’m more focused on time and spending quality time with someone than money on a gift. Throughout the past several years, we have lost someone before the holidays and it just seems that the reality that we will not live forever, just sinks in. Our first priority is and will always be the boys and making sure that they have a great Christmas, but everyone else will take a back seat and we will try to do something with people, not necessarily for them. For me, I would open my house and kitchen for anyone to come and spend time around the table and enjoy a meal with us.

For us, now that we have a bigger house, we are able to entertain more and have more people over and we really want the boys to see that there is more to Christmas than just gifts. So tonight, as we have wrapped up our second round of opening Christmas presents, we are home, I’ve just put the ham in the oven and the boys are playing with their toys. And my wife and I have agreed, that no more traveling on Christmas or Thanksgiving anymore, which almost made me cry and dance.

There has differently been a lot of reflection this year at Christmas, for a multitude of reasons. My Father in Law is getting remarried. The boys helped me put out luminaries last night, which for me, was my favorite thing to do at Christmas time. And honestly, the fact that the boys really understood Santa and the idea behind Christmas, that didn’t hurt either. I felt for the first time as a parent, that I got to really experience Christmas through the eyes of my kids this year and the innocence of the day.

So from our home to yours, Merry Christmas.

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Christmas Eve is one of my favorite days of the year.  Anticipation. Excitement. Memories of both my childhood and memories that the boys are making. Traditions are being made that I hope that they will be able to carry on throughout their lives.

This year, we’ll continue our tradition of luminaries and lighting the sidewalk and driveway with candles. We will begin to prepare for our dinner tonight, which will be chicken parmaisgn and homemade bread. And we will also be making some chocolate chip cookies for Santa later today as well. But the best part, we’ll be doing all these things together as a family.

Christmas is a time that we look forward to all year long & it is a time for reflection, family and a time to be together. So from my family to yours, have a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It is my wish, that not only does Santa bring you all that you were hoping for, but even more.

Merry Christmas

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Traditions are made to be broken, started, altered and passed down. And this Christmas was definitely hit on all of those this year. And all of my best plans for Christmas Eve, failed quickly, but taught me a really valuable life lesson.

Growing up, Christmas Eve was my favorite day of the year. It represented a time of anticipation and innocence. Normally, I give my staff at work the day off and I man the office, but this year, I took the day off and planned on grabbing wings and a cold beverage, grabbing a few last minute things for my wife’s stocking and as a family, going to church and then getting baking cookies and putting out luminaries and watching It’s A Wonderful Life. Each of these things, minus going for wings and beer, were things that I did as a kid growing up and something that have and still mean the most to me about Christmas. But this year, things didn’t really work out like I had expected or even thought that it would.

On Christmas Eve eve, my wife was at work and called to say that she was going to the local urgent care and that she was pretty sure that she had strep throat. Great! Two years in a row of her being sick, last year was pink eye. BUT, that wasn’t the real concern, the real concern was the boys and it was quickly appearing that they too were sick with strep and that this was becoming a tradition of them being sick at Christmas.

So, my plans for Christmas Eve went from going out and having some downtime, to taking the boys to the urgent care center, only to have it confirmed that they too had strep throat. The problem, Boy B HATES medicine and oh right, he didn’t just have strep, he also had Scarlet Fever. After getting home and trying for a few hours to get medicine into Boy B, it was quickly apparent that he wasn’t going to take it. After a quick call with a friend of mine that is a Doctor, he advised us to take him to the ER and that Scarlet Fever wasn’t something to mess around with.

So, there goes my lunch of wings and a beer, shopping, and now Christmas Eve service, because my wife and son headed straight to the ER for our first ever visit. The medical staff was awesome! They not only took care of him immediately, got a dose of medicine, they were able to break his fever. And not only did they take care of him, the ER Doctor, took his hand and lead him down the hall to a toy closet, were he could pick out any toy that he wanted! How awesome is that (this will be a future blog story about the toy closet)! So what toy did he pick out? A Star Wars Storm Trooper helmet, not because he loves Star Wars, but because his brother does and he knew that his brother would want to help him color it.

RELIEF! He was on the mends.  Peace and a deep sigh of relief for a moment.

After a few hours in the ER, my wife and son arrive back home and within 30 minutes of being back he ate more in just those few minutes than he had in the previous 24 hours. He was back to being a little boy, that was smiling and excited at the arrival of Santa coming in a few hours. So, in a few hours before their bed, we still had time to bake and decorate cookies, we watched the Charlie Brown and then we put out cookies and Reindeer food. And as we were putting out the food for the reindeer, I remembered the luminaries.

Luminaries for me growing up, were the start of Christmas. I didn’t always have the best Christmas mornings, often time there was uncertainty if this was my families last Christmas together or if there was going to be a lot of arguing? But luminaries represented calm and peace in a sometimes difficult time in my life. And as I got the luminaries together to put out in front of the house, I had the boys to come over and I told them how this was one of the many traditions that I wanted to pass down to them and they really seemed to love the way that the luminaries lite up the walk way out front as a way to give Santa a landing strip for their house.

After the boys settled down for the night and Santa had come and gone, I realized that I was still able to keep some of my traditions and even pass some down to the boys. I was able to run out for a few minutes and get candy for my wife’s stocking and found her a few other little gifts. I was able to watch our Christmas Eve church service online (Love technology and that our church really leverages it and a cool way to stream church services) and I was able to have a glass of wine while wrapping gifts and watching It’s A Wonderful Life. But most importantly, my kids were feeling better and they got to for the first time, help me put out luminaries and got to see their expressions as I talked about the candles and how peaceful it was before Santa came.

Traditions are important. Traditions are made to be broken, expanded upon, altered, started and most importantly, passed down.  I most certainly hope that the tradition of being sick at Christmas is broken, but I really look forward to seeing how next years traditions grow and stick with the boys.

 

 

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December 26th or as most refer to it, the Day After Christmas is here. Kids are playing with their new toys, many parents, like myself are back at work and Santa is resting and relaxing after a busy Christmas night.

As I sit at the office and reflect on Christmas morning, I had a few things that have continued to pop into my head that really stood out.

  1. The boys really did a great job of sharing yesterday morning. They each got completely different sets of toys, which I am asked a lot if we have a duplicates. We have really tried to avoid that, but it does happen occasionally.
  2. The boys really asked Santa for only 1 toy each and the reactions when they got those were priceless.
  3. I got to witness Baby A and his cousin last night have a conversation about Santa and the toys that they received. I just wished that I had caught the whole conversation on video, because it was priceless.
  4. Christmas day for adults is and should really only be about the kids. Nothing else matters.
  5. Seeing Christmas through the eyes of your children, there is no greater gift.

As I sit at work this morning, the day after Christmas, it is quiet. A much different than yesterday morning, to say the least. The boys had an amazing day. They are blessed more than they will ever know.

I’m going to take a few days off from blogging and enjoy some time with my kids.

So from my family to yours, have a safe and happy holidays!

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It is finally Christmas Eve and this year is a little different than previous year. Both boys work up around 1am this morning and both had pink eye.  There is nothing normal about pink eye on Christmas Eve and being sick.

We started the morning at our pediatricians office and both got antibiotics. We got home, the rested, took meds and ultimately Baby B ended up taking a nap.

I wanted to try and keep some sense of normalcy to our Christmas Eve as possible. Church was obviously out, but we could watch some classic Christmas movies. So we have watched Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolph and Elf is up next. I made a Christmas concoction that smells great and smelt like Christmas. And now I am making Wassil.

I wanted to try to blend traditions from both my wife and my childhood’s for Christmas Eve for the boys. This year has been amazing, for so many reasons. This year, the boys actually “got” Christmas and Santa. So this has been a lot of fun for them, but also for me.

So tonight, as we all try to get better, my wife is now at Urgent Care being seen for pink eye, I ordered Chinese and the boys and I are watching Christmas movies.

We will eat dinner together, watch Christmas movies and read some Christmas books. And I hope that this isn’t a Christmas tradition being started with being sick.

Tonight, enjoy the moment. Enjoy the innocence of Christmas Eve. Enjoy the moment of seeing Christmas through the eyes of your children.

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This morning, as I sipped on my morning coffee and watched the boys looking at the Christmas Tree, I just couldn’t help to stop and think about my mother in law.  And I am not sure why today she popped into my head?  Maybe it is because last night we got the cookware that she has ordered shortly before she died? Maybe it was because my wife and I had been talking more about her?  Maybe it is because she and I loved Christmas and I see that love starting to form with my sons and see their excitement.

But whatever the reasons are, I was was blessed beyond belief to have had such an amazing mother in law, my biggest regret is that she was taken from us entirely too soon. She was kind hearted, loving and just an amazing person. Before my wife and I were married, she joked with us about our children and how they would be and the challenges that they would present.

My mother in law and I shared many common loves. Her daughter first and foremost, but cooking, a good glass of wine, a good joke and more importantly, Christmas. We were big kids when it came to Christmas and she and I would often sit and talk for hours by the Christmas Tree on Saturday mornings.

Today, as I sit and watch the boys interacting with each other and looking at the ornaments on our Christmas Tree, I really miss my mother in law. I miss her for so many reasons, her smile, her laughter, her advice, her hugs, her voice when she would sing in church and from a really selfish way, the fact that she never got to meet her grandsons.

And of course, the boys favorite ornament on the Christmas Tree, is the Charlie Brown ornament with the true meaning of Christmas. Every year that she is not here, gets a little better, but I wish that she were here with the boys looking at the Christmas Tree this morning

 

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It is the middle of October, the leaves are changing and the air is turning cooler. It means that fall has arrived and fall is my favorite time of year. I don’t know if I love fall because it symbolizes the start of college basketball season? Or maybe it is because of the great craft beers? Or maybe it is because it means that jolly old Saint Nick will be making an appearance very soon.

Today we took the boys out for the day, ran errands, had lunch with my step-brother who was in town, stopped at Yankee Candle for the Harvest candle and then came home. As we were driving home, the boys quietly began talking about Christmas and I could barely contain my excitement.

Christmas for me as a child wasn’t always fun and it certainly wasn’t magical the way a child should experience Christmas. But life isn’t always far, but as God as my witness and as long as I am alive and able, Christmas will be special for my kids.

Tonight, as I rock the boys and ge

t them ready for bed, there is a crisp fall air looming and the temperatures are steadily dropping. And as fall enters for a short period of time, one are one day closer to Christmas.

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Today/Tonight is Christmas Eve. A night that is holy for those that are believers that Jesus was born on Christmas day. But, it is also something more than that. It is the day that kids look forward to all year, in hopes that they have been good enough for Santa to come for a visit.

This year for Christmas Eve, we are doing something a little different. We will be staying at home and starting our own family traditions. In the past, we’ve stayed at my Father in law’s house, but this year, we wanted the boys to wake up in their own bed. My wife and I have spent a lot of time talking about traditions that we each had growing up as children and things that we wanted to start doing with the boys and I think. After church, we’ll head back to the house and have dinner, put on new Christmas PJs and watch a few Christmas movies.

For my wife and I, we are getting to witness for the first time that joy and excitement in our boys faces when they see Santa on TV.  I don’t know that I can even put into words how excited I are to see what Santa is bringing the boys, but if I had to guess, there will be a lot of trains appearing Christmas morning.  But just seeing the boys faces light up for the first time after Santa comes, I don’t know that I will be able to put into words how excited I am going to be.

 

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I’ve been asked a lot lately from my wife what I wanted for Christmas and I give her the same answer, every time, which is nothing. I don’t know if she is just not able to wrap her head around the fact that I have everything that I need. I have my family. I have my friends. I have two amazing little boys. What more do I need?

There are certain Christmas movies that I love watching every year and the Charlie Brown Christmas is one of them. And I dare say, I could probably recite a good portion of the movie if asked. But there is one part in the movie where Charlie Brown asks if anyone knows what Christmas is all about? And Linus sums it up pretty darn nicely.

I have been blessed beyond words. I have more than I will ever need. I have more things, things that do not matter. But there are people that are really struggling this year. Whether they do not have a home or heat for their home or enough food for their family. And then there are those that do not have enough money this year to provide gifts for their kids. Those are the ones that need things. They need the essentials of everyday life. They need food. They need a roof of their heads. They are the ones that we should be asking, what do you want for Christmas this year?

I have challenged my family to do 1 simple thing, help someone else out with the money that they were going to spend on me. Did my wife and I over do it for the kids this year? Maybe? Did my wife and I over do it for each other, not as bad as last year. But the real question is this, did my family help others and the answer is heck yeah we did. We have given more this year to charity to help those less fortunate than every before. And when the boys are older, and old enough to understand, I fully plan on taking them to a homeless shelter to serve those that are less fortunate. Because I want them to see and understand what Christmas is really all about.

 

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