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Aside from the beautiful colored lights, my children love roasting marshmallows to make s’mores by the fire pit, as well as walking around with hot chocolates to keep their fingers toasty. My husband and I prefer nursing a spiced cider with rum, or some red wine.
It really gets us in the holiday spirit, which we needed a little help with this year especially. My photos are from both of our visits. We didn’t notice that much had changed this year, other than perhaps more lights, and more walkways had been opened to the public. And it was definitely more crowded!
Garden Lights is open until January 5, so you haven’t lost your chance to see it yet this season!
As the mother of a seven year old girl (and a ten year old boy), I am having a very hard time coming to terms with the tragic recent events in Newtown, Connecticut. It doesn’t help that my daughter was going through a severe illness at the time and is finally on the other side of it. Seeing her so frail was putting thoughts into my head that I was trying to push away. Every time I sing her to sleep or hold her hand, or look in her sweet face I want to sob, and sometimes do, for those parents in Newtown. I know it will get better with time, and this too shall pass, but it is so difficult not to see their children in mine. It could have been mine, and that is the most horrifying reality for a parent. Thoughts of that day and what the children and others went through run through my mind and I can’t make it stop. I am having to remind myself that life does go on and I need to be present for my children. Even though the holiday spirit has been zapped from me, they are innocent and don’t realize what has happened. My son has an idea but doesn’t know details thank God, and doesn’t want to. I must make sure their lives goes on as they normally would. In some ways I need to be selfish and not let it affect me this much. I will not let it ruin our Christmas, when it has ruined that and the lives of so many people and families. My children are still here and I need relish in that and cherish them, in honor of those who are not. I am taking a break from blog posts until I feel enough time has passed for me to have my heart in it. Everything seems trivial to me now. If anything, good must come of what has happened to honor those who were lost. Personally it has made me look into my children’s faces with love at those times when they are misbehaving, being a little too loud or goofy, when previously I would have looked at them with annoyance or raised my voice. I can’t stop kissing and hugging them. I know they can sense something is up with Mommy. And I can tell they love the extra attention and affection emanating from me. I pray I can remember this feeling when time has passed and things have returned to normal – immense gratitude for their lives, infinite patience, and immeasurable absolute love for my children, whom I have been brutally reminded can be taken away in an instant. Not that I didn’t feel those sentiments before, but those feelings have been magnified times a thousand.
My prayers and wishes for healing to all who are suffering, and to all who are mourning whether directly affected or not..
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By popular demand, I have been asked to share some of my Elf on a Shelf ideas. It’s hard to come up with new ones every day and be creative. Pinterest is a great resource, but so far I have just had the inspiration pop into my warped mind. My children love our elf Fred Robert (not sure how they picked that name two years ago when we got him).
We were living in a suburb of Chicago at the time. But the Elf on a Shelf book was written by a mother and her daughter in Marietta, GA. Little did I know we would soon be moving there! They hit a gold mine because almost every child we know has one. The children love it, and I have to admit, I look forward to new and goofy ideas for him to do every night. It would be very easy to get carried away! I will post more photos every few days; I threw in a couple from last year too. I hope this helps if you are looking for ideas for your elf!!
A few years ago we started a new tradition in our household that had been a tradition when I was growing up. We set up a small artificial tree in our basement family room, normally the weekend after Thanksgiving. I call it our children’s tree. We also buy a large fresh tree for the main floor, but a few weeks later so it isn’t brown and sad by Christmas. On the children’s tree, we use whimsical, colorful, child friendly ornaments, and some that were my grandparents from the 1950s and ’60s, and maybe earlier. But only the non-fragile ones!
This year I also used the glass candy garlands that had previously doubled as my daughter’s birthday party decorations. The garland is perfect on a children’s tree.
Sometimes I revel in preparing for the holiday more than the day itself. The traditions, decorations, music, food, etc are what makes it magical. I hope you are finding joy in the start of the holiday season, and that our children’s tree may be a source of inspiration for you.