Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Christmas at our House

Christmas at the Barnharts tends to be a little traditional but I like it that way. I hope our children will always have fond memories of all we've done through the years to celebrate. We start with the tree sometime after Thanksgiving. Each year I've given the kids a new ornament to signify that year. Now they each have their own box of ornaments that they can take with them when they leave home. It's always fun to see them open their ornaments each year and try to remember why they got each one. This year, Cory's fiance, Stephanie helped us decorate the tree and it was rewarding for me to see him show her each one and tell her stories about some of them. It was also a little sad for me to think that this is the last year those ornaments will be on my tree. He will now carry them to their new home together and hopefully use them for many more years on his own tree.
After the tree comes all the santas. I've been a santa collector since Cory was a baby. My Dad died when he was 9 months old on December 18, 1986. The rest of the family let the fact that he died so close to Christmas ruin their celebrations for family for many years. I chose to collect santas in memory of my Dad since he was always "my favorite santa". I had originally planned to get a new santa every year but then I started finding cute ones everywhere I went and it turned out to be several santas each year. My favorites are the "old world" style santas. I now have several large boxes of santas and snowmen that come out each year. I don't mind putting them up because I think of my wonderful Dad when I do. Someday I'll add them to the kids' ornament boxes but for now, they make me happy so I keep putting them up each year. I usually send out a newsletter each year but this year I decided to forego that since I had too many other things to do. Cards and pictures go with the newsletter. In the past few years I've been making calendars for the kids with pictures of their friends on them. I had decided I wouldn't do them this year but Hannah indicated that it was one of her favorite gifts so I decided to go ahead and make them anyhow. I made four calendars this year from November to December. I always make fudge sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I made it at Thanksgiving this time so that Russ could help eat it while he was home. We also traditionally make cut-out cookies that were always left on a plate for santa. We didn't do those this year since our time was more limited. Other traditional cookies are miniature nut cups, butterballs, caramel/chocolate bars, cheesecake bars and peanut butter bars. The girls made the last two for our annual New Year's Eve party. Christmas meal is almost always a ham with mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, green beans and homemade rolls. Once I've cooked the big meal, I don't cook again for several days so that everyone will come and nibble on the leftovers. Christmas morning is always a pan of cinnamon rolls. They are easy for me to pop in and the kids rely on them to be there for breakfast. A few years I've given the kids pj's for christmas and let them open them on Christmas Eve but I was never consistent with that one. The pickle ornament was given to me by my brother and sister-in-law for another tradition. We would hide the pickle on the tree and Christmas morning the kids had to see who could find it first. The finder always got an extra gift....usually candy or a game. For some reason I forgot to do that tradition this year. The stockings are a tradition that I brought from my family. I've always enjoyed finding little things to throw in each stocking. Traditionally I always throw a few practical items in there as well. They always get toothbrushes and floss, gum and chapstick. They've come to expect those. The past few years we changed a little and drew names for stockings and each person was responsible for filling someone elses stocking. I went back to being the original stocking stuffer again this year. It's a fun extra gift to find onChristmas morning. I've always enjoyed Christmas even though it is a busy holiday for me. I love to watch my kids opening gifts, to hear Russ complain that I shouldn't have spent money on him, the watch the cats excitement as they open their stockings of catnip toys and to know that we have always been soooo blessed to have all that we have each year. May God continue to bless our little family as it grows through the years.

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