Our Christmas “vacation” story does not really start with the trip that my husband always calls our Tour de Southeast. Our Christmas season started in, well, November when I started listening to Christmas music (which I never do before Thanksgiving) and ordered 90% of the Christmas presents online. I have so much love for Amazon Prime. Tommy put up our outdoor lights and bought our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving while we were traveling home from FL, so it was “beginning to look a lot like Christmas” pretty early at our house this year!
* Peter the Elf *
On December 1st, our elf Peter made his debut for the year. Well, it was touch-and-go for a few hours whether Peter was going to make his appearance or not. Noah started asking about our elf the last few days of November. I think he was more concerned because our elf did not come at all last year. Noah did not even mention Peter until a few days before Christmas last year, so we said that Santa must have thought that he did not need Peter there every day. (The twins were one so they did not need the daily elf “behavior check” on them either.) This year, Noah wrote a letter to Santa asking him for Peter to come back to our house through the month of December. EEEEK, where did that elf go when we moved to NC? I searched the house and could not find it anywhere. On December 1st, the day allllllll the elves come down from the North Pole and become a struggle for all parents everywhere, Noah came home from school and said that everyone else’s elves (in his 3rd grade class) had shown up that morning. He said, “Mom, today is the day all the elves come! I’ll have to look for him when we get home!” Oops, there is no elf hiding at home. I don’t know where the elf is! By dinner Noah says, tearfully, “Mom I can’t find him. I asked Santa to bring him and he didn’t come.” Mayday. SOS. I sent Tommy a text while he was still at work and THANKFULLY Peter (2.0) appeared above the projector in our playroom while we were gone to a trial gymnastics class. I will say that I only forgot to move the elf a few times in the month, but Peter wasn’t very creative. He made a zip-line once… and he brought the kids Christmas pajamas. Oh, and powdered doughnuts on the last day of school before Christmas! Other than that, he just rotated to lights and curtain rods and other high places so that twins wouldn’t touch him, which would cause Peter to lose all his magic. We did institute that touching Peter with gloves on the day that we had to move Peter away from the Christmas pajamas WAS OKAY, per his note to Noah. I told Noah that he could do it but he was adamant that if he touched Peter, even with the gloves, all magic would be lost. Elf magic is serious business at our house! (Also, I found Peter 1.0 on the bookshelf in the office closet halfway through December. His new name in Pat. He made a one-time appearance this year to help Peter bring the pajamas from the North Pole. Noah talked about it for days.) The twins also enjoyed finding the elf. The three of them searched for Peter every morning before school. They all loved Peter. Long live the elf. (*insert crying, sarcastic Mom that is so ready for the elf fad to be over)
* DISNEY ON ICE!! *
I asked for Disney on Ice tickets as my Christmas present, so our first Christmas “celebration” was December 10th when we went to Disney on Ice. We all really enjoyed it, even the twins! I was surprised at how well it kept their attention. The entire first half was centered around Riley from Inside Out and how she wanted to do well in a big hockey game, which resonated a lot with our hockey-loving boys. Emry Jane was alllll about the princesses, especially Anna and Elsa!
* Must be … SANTA!! *
(If you did not read the title of this section in Buddy the Elf’s voice, we cannot be friends.) That is my favorite Christmas movie after all.
The next Christmas event was visiting with Santa Claus! The twins were terrified of Santa last year, so we spent a LOT of days leading up to our Santa visit discussing what it would be like to meet Santa. What are you going to ask Santa for for Christmas? And in some cases (Noah,) let’s narrow down the page-long letter asking for 10+ things. What is the one or two things that you really want for Christmas? Eli wanted a hockey stick. Emry Jane wanted a baby doll. Noah wanted a new Nintendo 3DS. Eli was the most nervous when it came to actually visiting Santa. We promised him that we would move to the side so that the helpers could take their picture, but that we would stay right there where he could see us. Emry Jane made sure that Santa knew what she wanted AND what Eli wanted 🙂 The thing we failed to mention to Eli was that, after he asked for the hockey stick, he would have to wait until Christmas morning to see if Santa would bring him a hockey stick. The waiting was excruciating for Eli. He cried when we left Santa sans hockey stick. He cried when we left the mall sans hockey stick. He told us 1 MILLION times between our visit on the 12th and Christmas morning that he wanted a hockey stick. Thank goodness, Santa brought Eli a hockey stick!
* Christmas Parties *
Next on the Christmas agenda was our Friendsmas celebration with our Wednesday playgroup families. I have a great group of moms that I have met here in Chapel Hill and many of us meet every Wednesday morning at a local park or play area so that our kids can play together and we can have a couple hours to talk to other moms (and chase our kids around said park or play area!) We talked about how it would be nice to have a time when the dads could meet each other… and the idea of Friendsmas was born! We also wanted to have a little goodbye celebration for one of the families of our group that was moving away to Africa for the year. We hosted the event at our house. Tommy made an awesome ham and a turkey. Our friends brought side dishes and appetizers to share. My brother Dalton agreed to be Playroom Bouncer and help out downstairs, so that the parents could have some time to chat and eat together. After dinner, the kids decorated Christmas cookies that Noah and I had baked together the day before. It was so fun and I am hoping that this will be a yearly tradition with friends for years to come!
We sent decorated cookies home with each of the families that came to Friendsmas and we also had plenty of leftover cookies to share with the kids’ teachers, neighbors and our mail lady. 🙂
The kids’ Christmas parties at school consisted of a Christmas carol sing-along at the twins’ school and winter-themed stations in Noah’s classroom. Nana came to watch the twins for me so that I could participate in Noah’s class party. I helped out with the snowman relay and the “throwing marshmallow into the wreath” contest. I am so thankful for the time that I am able to spend with my children in their schools!
* On the first day of Christmas break, my true love gave to me *
On the first day of our Christmas break, we drove to Siler City to meet Noah’s grandparents for lunch. We have been very blessed during our time here in NC to be surrounded by family. And not just my family. Noah’s biological dad’s extended family, including his parents, live within a couple hours of us. We have developed a great relationship with Noah’s grandparents, PawPaw M and Grammy, since being here and see them regularly at Noah’s hockey games. PawPaw and Grammy bought all three children Christmas presents, so we met them for lunch and some present-opening. Noah’s excitement when he opened his new DS was priceless– he was so surprised!! Eli and Emry Jane were also excited about their skating Minnie and bike-riding Mickey!
* Christmas Eve *
My mom’s Christmas wish was for everyone to go to Christmas Eve service at her church, so we went and filled the whole row at her church in Holly Springs! The twins were a little antsy during the service, but thankfully, there were lots of hands to hold them throughout the service between us, my parents and all my siblings. The church also had a GREAT idea and gave out a coloring sheet, crayons and snack in a little bag for each of the little kids. This really helped keep the twins entertained during the non-musical parts of the service.
After church, we went back to Nana’s for dinner. Dinner was fantastic. Nana sure does know how to rock some casseroles 🙂 More green bean casserole, please! Did I mention that everyone in our little family had Christmas colds (this tends to be a trend with our family every year) and that Emry Jane had a 101* fever and bronchiolitis? By Christmas Eve, the only one that wasn’t coughing or sneezing or blowing their nose 24/7 was Noah. The twins were in really good spirits despite their colds, but did not feel well enough to smile in family Christmas pictures. There were the best takes:
Hanukkah also began on Christmas Eve this year, so we got to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah at Nana’s house. We lit the menorah, said the Hanukkah prayer and opened our Hanukkah presents from Nana and Papa.
* Christmas Day *
When our children were all snug in their beds on Christmas Eve, I told Noah to wake us before he started opening his gifts the next morning. As I was closing his door, I said “If you wake up and look at your clock and the first number is 5, you need to stay in bed.” At 6:00 on the DOT on Christmas morning, Noah walked into our room, excited for us to get up so he could open his gifts from Santa! We decided not to wake up the twins at 6 am and Tommy and I sleepily went to the living room to watch Noah open his Santa presents and stocking. Then, Tommy went back to bed until the twins woke up. Noah and I sat on the couch by the light of the Christmas tree for the first hour of Christmas morning together. Basically, I just watched him play his new Pokemon DS game from Santa, but I enjoyed the time with just my Noah.
By about 7am, the twins were up and ready for present time!! We started with their gifts from Santa and then the gifts from us to them and to each other. It took quite a while to open presents with the twins. As soon as they opened a present, they wanted it completely opened. Immediately. All the plastic and cardboard and zip ties OFF. Eli got his beloved hockey stick from Santa. He got other things too, but the only thing he cared about was that hockey stick, haha. Emry Jane got twin Bitty Baby dolls from Santa that look just like her and Eli. She only likes the girl doll. (She only shows interest in the boy doll if Eli wants to play with it. *sigh) Noah got a robot dog from Santa. He refuses to read the instructions on how to get the dog to do what he wants it to do, so basically it’s a puppy paperweight that sits on his desk. Money well spent. Between us and Santa, the kids had lots of new stuff to play with while Tommy and I prepared brunch for my family that was coming over mid-morning.
My parents and siblings joined us for brunch and another round of present-opening. The best part of our time spent together was us playing a board game that Noah got for Christmas called Watch Ya Mouth. You put a plastic mouthpiece in your mouth and say hilarious phrases while your partner tries to guess what you are saying. Tommy and I dominated the game by almost doubling the score of all the other teams. I think Nana had the hardest time being Noah’s partner because he could not stop laughing long enough to guess what she was trying to say. I have some hilarious videos of us playing this game, but unfortunately, no pictures. Nana and Papa also bought Noah some snap circuits, bringing out the engineer in Papa as he helped Noah put them together. Nana also bought Papa and Noah matching Chewbacca masks. Those are fun too, but they scare the twins!
By nap time on Christmas Day, we were in prep mode trying to get everything ready to leave for our “Tour De Southeast” trip early the next morning. We loaded up the car with pack-n-plays, booster seats, potty seats, suitcases, etc. (You know, alllll the essentials when you are traveling with toddler twins for a full week!) It was time to visit our Alabama and Tennessee friends and family, many of which we haven’t seen in 6+ months!