For Christmas this year, we decided to do something new. Kristin found a cabin out on the eastern shore of Maryland, so after extensive packing and planning, and a three hour car drive which ended with our arrival at the campground during a torrential downpour, we were at last saved by a mad dash through the thunderstorm to a cozy cabin, and we had Christmas out in the woods.
I jokingly told Kristin that the real reason was so that we could be remote enough that no-one would be able to call and tell us how awful our christmas traditions were. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to escape cel-coverage completely. :-) But it was a lot of fun anyways. Basically like camping, but with lots of amenities. We got to have a fireplace, eat good food, play board games, and explore the cabin and the woods.
Of course, add onto that a few more christmas related activities, like making gingerbread men
And of course, as always, acting out the nativity.
For those of you who don’t know, we’ve deviated from the typical Christmas mold over the last 3 or 4 years. The biggest change is that we don’t open our presents on Christmas - instead we use the day as a time to think of the Savior, and do nice things or service for others (in the past we went singing at a nursing home, and once we went delivering cookies to emergency response people who were on shift). We act out the nativity in the evening, and begin placing our gifts under the tree that day. Each day after Christmas we have a devotional in the evening and we each get to put another one of the gifts we’ve prepared under the tree. We finally open presents on King’s Day - a tradition we stole from our time in Madrid, when the three Wise Men supposedly arrived. All in all we’ve come to really enjoy it - Christmas is much less materialistic and Christ centered, and it gives us an opportunity to really focus more on the excitement of giving with the kids.
So usually a little bit before Christmas we take all the kids to the Dollar Store and they bring their money boxes (filled with money from chores for the last few weeks) to buy gifts to surprise their siblings. It’s sometimes challenging to divide the kids up between us and shuffle gifts in bags out to the car, so nobody sees anyone else’s gifts, but we manage. This year, we weren’t able to do it before Christmas due to planning and packing for the trip. So instead we had our first ever post-Christmas dollar store trip. It felt like a scene from the zombie-apocalypse:
But despite it, we were still able to have our devotional in the evening. We saved the Three Wise Men part of the nativity and acted it out, complete with gold, frankincense, and myrrh (represented by the blocks in the manger). After putting presents under the tree, we also get to write down any acts of service we’ve done during the day and place them in the manger. That’s also fun - the manger is usually quite full by King’s Day.
For New Year’s Eve, Kristin had her yearly holiday Tamalada (that means tamal-making party)! Two other sisters from the ward accepted the invitation to come make tamales - all together the activity yielded 9 doz. Yum!
In the evening we had cheese, crackers, and snacks as a picnic while we watched movies and played games. We didn’t stay up until midnight, but we did go out in the dark and light sparklers.
So now we’re counting down to King’s Day next week. I promise I won’t let it be another 2 months before my next post. :-)