Especially the sweet smiles from this little guy.
Cruz loved Christmas. The last couple of weeks, he's been so responsive to people, to noise, to lights, and to attention, a perfect combination to come at Christmas time. His eyes were big as we opened brightly colored packages in front of him, and he smiled when he saw the surprises awaiting inside. His favorite gifts this year were the books and light-up toys. It's as if he knew they were especially for him. Beau and I passed him back and forth all weekend, taking our turns experiencing this with him. Our gifts, although very much appreciated and enjoyed, didn't compare to the gift of watching Cruz experience his first Christmas. He was far more alert and into it than I ever pictured.
What I will always remember about this first Christmas of ours...
...the snow. The storybook snow that started Christmas Eve and didn't quit. The big flakes that danced in the air and took their sweet time landing on the cold ground while I got the house ready for Christmas. The giant icicles that looked better than Christmas lights, and the sparkle on the earth as we left the candlelight service at church. I've never remembered a Christmas snow more beautiful than this one. I felt like we were living in a snow globe!
...Orchard. Our first Christmas Eve candlelight service as a family. The dimmed lights, the incredible music, the white Chinese lanterns hung from the ceiling, and the Christmas carols sung in the atrium. I will never forget snuggling with Cruz during the service, holding him tight as the Christmas story was read, and thinking about a cold night in Bethlehem, and a sweet little baby born two thousand years ago.
Cruz slept through a good part of the service, but loved the candles lit at the end. The peace and power that resonated in that building was incredible. At the end of the service, before anyone could leave, Pastor Dave gave the congregation one last assignment. He said that oftentimes, Christmas comes and goes so fast, and in all of our time with our family, we fail to hold them close and tell them how much we love them. That was our assignment. To have one, tiny little moment with our family before leaving to celebrate the holidays. I witnessed 85 year old couples embrace as if they were 16 again, sons hug fathers for the first time in years, and little girls whisper, 'I love you,' in their grandpas' ears.
...the way the house smelled when we got home from church. It is tradition to cook a big, fancy meal for our own little Christmas. Our Christmas menu this year included stracotta, an Italian pot roast with a red wine and porchini mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, and a salad with cranberries, toasted almonds, and a balsamic vinegarette dressing. The (four) of us ate dinner at the table. Our changing table pad has become quite useful and versatile, especially when it comes to meal prep and eating!
...It's a Wonderful Life on TV, a glass of red wine, and a new pair of pirate pajamas for Cruz. This was our first Christmas Eve at home, our first one as a family. We opened presents, read a few books, and did our best to slow down time. Cruz loved his interactive manger ornament, and plastic camera (go figure). It was funny to open gifts I had purchased and wrapped just days before, but fulfilling to know it was the start of a new tradition for us.
...So many cute presents for the Cruz man! He was spoiled by his family, and since his presents are officially more fun than mine, I feel spoiled too! I spent two hours yesterday reorganizing his closet and playing with his toys. He is mesmerized by his laptop from Charly, and thinks his 'pillow pal' blankie is pretty snugly. He got his first long underwear stocking from his Grandpa Ray and Grandma Mary, lots of Gap clothes and books to add to his collection from Grandma Kelly and Grandpa Curt, and a special rocking horse from Great Grandma and Grandpa Hoodjer. The only toy he was a little skeptical of was a little drum that plays music. After a total meltdown with big tears and all, we decided we better put that away for a few months!
...a long, drawn out Christmas at my mom and dad's. We had to take a break in the middle of presents to let the little ones nap! It was kind of crazy to think that last Christmas, Charly wasn't even born and I wasn't even pregnant! I don't know how many times Mom commented that, 'this was the Christmas she always dreamed of!'
...A weekend of a whole lot of this...
This morning (or afternoon now), as I sit in pajamas amidst boxes, receipts, spit-up stained blankets, and the remnants of all-that-was-Christmas, I know that all too soon, the Christmas tree with the little lights that Cruz has loved for over a month will get stored away, the presents will find a place, and I will be back to work. And as another year begins and new resolutions are made, I hope I can keep all-that-was-Christmas a part of our family all year long.