Last year, Johnnie was deployed for Christmas. It didn't feel like Christmas. There was no joyous Christmas morning with presents to open and loved ones to hug. I opened gifts as they came in the mail.
This year was so much different and so much fun! Having a child (who is now old enough to enjoy things) brings an excitement back to Christmas that I haven't felt since I was young. We bought and decorated a real Christmas tree and we stockpiled presents underneath it. Family members sent presents for Cameron which I wrapped for her to open Christmas morning. Santa brought presents for everyone. We hung out all morning in our pajamas opening presents, video chatting with family, and enjoying homemade apple cinnamon rolls that I made. After Cameron's morning nap, we went to church and were mesmerized by how amazingly beautiful Christmas songs sound when they are sung in the Hawaiian language... seriously, wow! After a day of lounging, we went to a friend's house for a delicious Hawaiian Christmas dinner and laughing good time. It was a wonderful Christmas... especially because we were together as a family this year.
Cameron is too young to understand Christmas, Santa, and traditions this year so that gave us a grace period. Next year we'll have to up our game and get started early. I really want to have some Christmas traditions that we do every year and some take time to prepare! Here is my tentative list (which is really a reminder for myself):
- A family trip to get a Christmas tree
- Decorating the tree
- Hanging stockings
- Elf on the Shelf (maybe... we haven't decided on this yet)
- A Christmas countdown or Advent calendar
- An early mailed package from Santa that contains Christmas pajamas, a book, a movie, popcorn, and hot chocolate
- Watching Christmas movies
- Reading Christmas books
- Sending Christmas cards
- Listening to and singing along to Christmas music constantly
- Doing some anonymous good deeds for others
- Baking Christmas cookies
- Taking a night drive or walk to see Christmas lights
- Setting cookies and
beermilk out for Santa
- A photo of Santa in our house
- Opening presents in our pajamas Christmas morning
- Making a special homemade Christmas breakfast treat
- Making and eating Christmas tamales
- Going to church together for Christmas mass
- Cutting a slice of the Christmas tree trunk to use as a keepsake ornament
I used the app icaughtsanta again this year (see last year's photo) to put Santa in our house with Dulce. You can also upload a photo to the iCaughtSanta website to create a photo of Santa in your house instead of using a smartphone. To get this photo, Johnnie stood to the right of the chair to get Dulce to look in that direction.
Hawaii is one of Santa's last stops of the night so he was pretty tired when he got here ;)
Cameron got quite a few presents from family but only a few from Santa. We really don't want to overdo Christmas by having Santa bring a ton of presents every year. We are fortunate enough to provide things we want and need throughout the year so we would like to keep Christmas simple and meaningful. There is a little rhyme that I've seen many times on Pinterest and know that some of our friends have done for their kids this year. It goes like this:
"One thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear, and one thing to read."
That's right... only four presents from Santa. I really love this idea and we did it for Cameron this year. It really helps with choosing gifts and alleviating some holiday shopping stress. Besides, combined with what Cameron got from family, she still made out like a bandit this year. I think that in future years, Santa will bring those four things and we parents may add one more "want" present.
Cameron, age 15.5 months, got the following things from Santa this year:
We didn't wrap her larger presents and she was pretty amazed when she saw them. She had a good time ripping the wrapping paper off of the other presents, doing better than I expected with that task.
I didn't expect to get any Christmas photos for our card this year since Cameron will not stay still for a photo - until I found out that Cameron hates the sand and does not like to walk in it! I was able to sit her down and she actually stayed put. Dulce is extremely easy to pose and photograph (and will even wear a hat for a treat). Cameron, on the other hand, is quite difficult to get to look at and smile at the camera. I wonder if anyone saw me jumping around and making noises trying to get a smile on the beach that day...
I'll be honest and tell you that this is a composite photo - meaning that I combined two photos using Photoshop to create it. Getting a dog and a toddler to both look at the camera and smile is next to impossible. I took the photo of Cameron that I liked and superimposed it onto the photo of Dulce that I liked.... just like magic ;)
"The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the
presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other."