I'm sitting here typing tonight next to the twinkling lights of our Christmas tree with remnants of our weekend scattered everywhere. Christmas rubbermaids filled with empty ornament boxes still in the living room, a chili pot soaking in the sink, a pair of winter boots and tiny black gloves blocking the back door, and Boone, our Christmas Elf, hanging from a red and green construction paper chain in our entryway. Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone, a long weekend full of things to give thanks for. It was filled with family and good food, quiet movie nights at home, and the ushering in of the Christmas season with some old and new traditions and memories I won't forget.
Raising a little one during the holidays adds a sense of awareness to the traditions that fill this time of year. We seem to have a rhythm to this weekend; however, each year has a marked difference thanks to our growing boy. I vividly remember our first Thanksgiving with Cruz. He was just over a month old and everything was so new, so fragile, so peaceful. I remember standing with him in front of the picture window on Thanksgiving Eve, waiting for Beau to get home from work. He was wrapped in a big white blanket and I could see his reflection in the window next to the reflection of the lights from the Christmas tree. And I remember staring at myself in that reflection, this new mom, a bit overwhelmed, but mostly with gratitude. I remember the tears rolling down my face as Beau walked in the house, and a sweet moment as this new family of three before we introduced our baby to his very first holiday.
Now at three years old, our boy is re-introducing us to what these holidays are all about. Well, sort of. Thanksgiving morning, he woke up in our bed, sat up, and said, "It isn't Halloween, Mom," as if the little wheels were turning as he tried to organize the holidays in his head. Throughout the day, he kept getting turkeys confused with chickens and on Friday, when I explained we were going downtown to welcome Santa at the annual Holiday Hoopla, he thought for a minute before he asked, "Is Santa going to have a chicken wif him?" His innocent questions and sweet attempt to sort it all out left me reminded at how fast-paced we move through these days, welcoming Thanksgiving but quickly ushering it away as we shop on Black Friday, put up the tree, and begin our countdown to Christmas. While it's all fun and exciting, it's so important to slow it down a bit, especially for the little people in our lives.
Cruz is going to be so fun this year. He fully embraced every experience this weekend, from the turkey craft Grandma brought them on Thanksgiving day, to our hot cocoa night after the Holiday Hoopla, and our snowball fight at the Christmas tree farm. He loved discovering his first surprise from his advent calendar, loved studying each ornament from our tree, loved his new snow boots, and loved watching his first 'Chwismiss' movie before bed on Sunday night. He just seemed to have a twinkle in his eye all weekend long, which elated this mom of his. It's so fun to live this special magical month through the eyes of a little person, especially when they begin to understand the magic themselves.
Our long weekend began on Wednesday with a quiet day at home with Cruz. I made cinnamon rolls and we stayed in pajamas for most of the morning, listened to Christmas music and played duplos together. We made a turkey craft, made a paper advent chain, and had lunch at Cruz's favorite place, McDonalds. We snuggled together for an afternoon nap and later went out for a 16" pizza at the OP, a fun little tradition we share on Thanksgiving Eve.
Thursday, we ate. A lot. We had Thanksgiving at noon at Grandma and Grandpa Hoodjer's and dinner at Gabe and Gina's that night. There was more food than I remember from any year previous, but maybe that's because I felt no shame in helping myself to seconds, thirds, and then of course, pie. There was turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, Grandma's signature carrots and whiskey glazed sweet potatoes I tried for the first time. There was a leg of lamb and a drunken ham at Gabe's, dirty mashed potatoes, and sea salt caramels for dessert. Cruz was a trooper all day, and the three of us were exhausted by the time we made it home Thursday night.
Friday was a welcomed lazy day. A day I usually devote to some form of Black Friday shopping was spent on the couch in pajamas, although I did do a little online shopping instead. With just a little over six weeks to go until baby is here, getting up at the crack of dawn and waddling my way through endless crowds of impatient people didn't sound the least bit appealing to me this year. We chose to watch cartoons instead, eat leftover apple crisp, and await our town's annual Holiday Hoopla festival that night.
Santa came indeed, but not until we packed Charly, Cruz, and Hayes in a snug little booth at Soho and had some sushi! Our town comes to life a big way on the Friday following Thanksgiving. Live music fills the air as families young and old bundle up babies and make their way to Main Street to stroll among the sidewalk lights and march with Santa to see the annual tree lighting and fireworks show. It was cold, the perfect excuse to snuggle close and rub cold noses against warm cheeks as we watched eyes light up when Santa rode his sleigh down the street. Cruz was pretty speechless watching the action, and I wondered what was going through his little head as he watched the big red sleigh make its way down Main Street.
I hope I never forget how sweet Cruz was as we made our way home that night. It was well past his bedtime and he was quite cold, his little gloved fingers and toes a little wet after he decided to explore a snow pile outside of Soho. His cold fingers and toes was a feeling he wasn't used to and he cried while I changed his clothes and found his warmest pair of fleece pajamas. I snuggled him close and decided to prolong bedtime for two mugs of hot cocoa instead. I found his little snowman cocoa mug, filled it with warm milk, and let him go to town with his very own bowl of mini marshmallows. I taught him the art of stirring and sipping, and he went about the act ever so carefully, knowing it was a special thing. We toasted our mugs, warmed our hands, and talked about his wishlist for Santa. After capturing every last marshmallow, he decided himself it was time for bed, and he fell asleep quickly next to the glow of his little Christmas tree.
Saturday was a new adventure for us and deserves a post on its own. We decided it was the year to embark on a real Christmas tree, a Griswold-inspired excursion to a tree farm outside of town. With a sawzall, tape measure, and our snow boots in tow, we spent a gorgeous Saturday exploring rows and rows of unique Christmas trees. The snow was perfect for snowballs, the weather was unseasonably warm, and we found a lovely little tree just perfect for our living room. I loved this adventure and may just become a real tree person, after all. We'll see it this baby makes it to New Years first. :)
Saturday night we ate chili and decorated our Christmas tree. It's one of my favorite traditions of Christmas time, unwrapping our growing supply of ornaments and retelling the stories that go with each of them. It was a little more entertaining this year, as Cruz wanted to fully partake in the festivities, but didn't quite understand that many of the ornaments were not toys. He only broke two, we only listened to the Snoopy jukebox ornament play its tunes twenty-some times, and he only attempted to hang ten ornaments from the same branch at the very bottom of the tree, a branch that now hangs with a bit of a limp attempting to hold all that extra weight!
More to come from our Thanksgiving weekend and kickoff to another Christmas season. I turned the calendar to December this morning and couldn't help but think about this baby girl missing all the festivities this year. With all the hustle and bustle of this month, her due date is inching closer and closer. I have a feeling I may be mistaken for jolly old St. Nick by Christmastime!
Hoping all of you had a blessed Thanksgiving weekend. Happy December!