We've spent a couple Christmases on our own in Indiana, but the last of those was three years ago, so Gareth's only memories of Christmas are at extended family. Ryan and I have been trying to find ways to make it memorable and fun for him/decide what traditions and such we'd like to have in our family.
We started out with Christmas music on December 1. Ryan refuses to play it before then, and I'm not as adamant either way, so that's what we go with. He, apparently, has always started us off with Carol of the Bells. After finding our pathetically small assortment of household Christmas decor, Gareth helped us select the perfect spots for each item. Then on December 2nd we headed east in search of a tree. We tried a tree farm in Carnation that had been recommended to us. It was okay, but I'm thinking we'll look somewhere else next year. We like our trees to be nice and full and it seemed most of the trees were rather spindly and sad-looking. Eventually we wound our way over to the Grand Firs, which were more full and of which they had more tagged for sale than the other varieties we'd looked at. So we did end up with a nice tree, I just wasn't terribly impressed by the selection.
We brought it home and set to work getting it in the stand and freed from it's wrapping:
Gareth was a little nervous about the branches breaking free and whacking him in the face, but he had fun clipping open the netting. Even Malcolm was excited about the new addition to our living room decor:
It took us a few days to get the decorating done because Ryan had a presentation to prep for work and I had rehearsal, but we eventually got around to it. My mom sends us twenty-four small gifts (cookies, dried herbs from her garden, things like that) each year and that's what's up on the mantle. The stocking clips are new and I'm rather excited about how well they work. I like their simplicity and the fact that my kids won't get knocked on the head by a large weighted stocking holder should they choose to pull on the stockings (hasn't been a problem yet, but might be next year when Malcolm's walking). As you can see, I need to make a stocking for Malcolm still - that's in the queue, hopefully to be completed by next Christmas.
We've included Gareth in more of our movie-watching this year. We started with Polar Express because Gareth loves it so much. Then on to Holiday Inn (really not a Christmas movie, is it? I was wondering this year why it's always thought of as one). Ryan and I watched A Christmas Story on our own, since neither of us had seen it before. Then we watched White Christmas (okay movie, not one of my favorites, but some funny parts). Last night we let Gareth stay up way late and watched Nightmare Before Christmas, which he really enjoyed. I remember being a little weirded out by it as a kid, but I am not entirely sure why after watching it again last night. Today we watched the 1955 Miracle on 34th Street - another one that's kinda meh. But we'll watch A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott version) on Christmas Eve and we've still got It's a Wonderful Life here at home, so we've got at least a couple more excellent ones to go. We're also planning on leaving Malcolm with some friends (a huge deal, as he'll cry the entire time) in order to take Gareth to his first movie in a theatre.
And we can't forget the holiday grapefruit. It actually arrived over a week ago, but we're holding out on digging into it to make sure we still have some left for Christmas morning breakfast. On the baking front, Gareth helped us make some fudge. I was planning to include him in making the gingerbread cookies, but that didn't happen (though I need to make another batch since they're addicting and I've consumed most of what was made earlier, so maybe I'll get him in on that round). And we tried some toffee tonight, our first Seattle toffee attempt. We'll see how that turned out come morning. So, there you have it, what we've been busy with the past few weeks. And here we all are, attempting a family photo with the self-timer: