Blogging every day for a month was a little overwhelming for me. I needed a few days off since the AEDM challenge ended Monday to just kick back and not blog. When I started this blog I thought it was nice that I could come here and write with no pressure. If I had something to say, I could say it here, but didn’t need to feel an obligation to write daily. Last month I tried a challenge and blogged almost everyday (I think I missed two days). It was a fun project and really did motivate me, but in the end I think I prefer sporadic postings. My fear in writing daily is that I will write anything, mundane most likely, to just be able to check blogging off from my list of things to do. I don’t want my blog to become a tedious task for me….
It’s already December and Christmas is just around the corner. I am so excited to be back in the Northern Hemisphere for the Christmas holiday this year! It isn’t quite Christmas for me without the cold air, the holiday lights and the bustle of people. This year, it actually feels like Christmas! For the past three years Noel simply felt like a big Christmas bargain sale in the middle of summer (in Brazil). Christmas is also a family holiday and so it was hard to not always be with family to celebrate. I love Christmas and am so excited to be able to pass down family traditions to my children and also to begin new ones in our family.
To get into the holiday mood, last month we went to see the shop windows of the Galeries Lafayette department store all dressed up for Christmas. I have wonderful memories of seeing the Macy’s store windows in NYC as a kid. This past Wednesday we went to the Marché de Noël on the Champs Elysées to help get us in the holiday spirit. Thibault had a really good time! And today we went to my old high school and where I taught for three years before moving to Brazil (I am not quite sure if sitting on Santa’s lap is a French tradition…?) and the boys got to sit on Santa’s lap and chat. It was Damien’s first time meeting Santa! Such a big moment! and Thibault got a little shy and quiet… For the past few days he’s been practicing what to say to Santa and practiced by telling all images of Santa in books and all Christmas trees we passed! For me, you know it is Christmas time when you visit Santa! Then you can really start dreaming and getting into the holiday spirit! This is something my brother and I did as kids and I love being able to take my boys to visit with Santa before Christmas each year. This is Thibault’s third Christmas and Damien’s first! so it is very exciting.
In family traditions, we’ve hung the boys stockings, put out the crèche and pulled out the Advent Calendar. Thibault did the Advent calendar for the first time last year. The calendar we had was a one time use one with chocolates. And while chocolates are yummy, especially around the holidays, I prefer non-chocolate ones! I bought this new one while I was in the USA in October and filled it with wooden ornaments. Thibault loves it and understand this year that he can open one pocket a day. It is so neat to see how he is growing and understaning the holiday better.
We also got a fabulous Advent tree calendar from my brother and sis-in-law which is huge and so so cool. I filled this one with fruit candy (my idea that it is more healthy than chocolate because there is fruit in it, but in reality it is just as sweet as chocolate, maybe even more so!) and Thibault pulls out the candy for snack time. These two calendar are now part of our family traditions and we’ll pull them out each year. I think having two calendars will be handy with the two boys, espcially as they get a little older. We’ll be able to switch back and forth between the two calendars, taking turns so that Thibault and Damien each get a prize for the twenty-five days of Advent. I wonder how my mother did it? I wonder if we had to flip a coin to see who could open the little door for the day….
Preparing Christmas in a hotel apartment isn’t really easy. But because we have the little wooden ornaments in the calendar, we needed to get a tree! We hadn’t had a real tree for so long. We couldn’t get a big tree, but I did find one that is suppose to be a table centerpiece and it is perfect for the little ornaments. The best things about the tree is that it is real and it smells that wonderful Christmas tree smell! What a treat it is to walk into the apartment and smell the Christmas tree!
This year Elfie, our Elf on the Shelf has returned like last year. This is a new tradition in our family. Thibault looks for him every morning and he knows he is being watched. He blows him a kiss good night before bed and also whispers his Christmas wish “bike please”.
Today Elfie sat on the curtain rod. Yesterday he was sitting on the toaster and the day before he was on the TV. As a mother, having Elfie in the room is a wonderful parenting aid. If Thibault misbehaves I just have to tell him that Elfie is watching and will report back to Santa! I think maybe Elfie should visit us throughout the year and not just at Christmas to regularly check on the kids, but then maybe the novelty would wear off….
We’ve also been listening to Christmas music and reading holiday stories. We went to the American Library and the Public Library and I was able to check out books in both languages. It is neat to see the differences in Christmas in the two cultures – In America we put out stockings and here the children put out their shoes; in the USA, or in my family anyway, we received gifts from relatives – aunts, uncles, godparents, grandparents AND Santa (ie our parents) while in France ALL the gifts come from Santa, which personally I think is too bad since my boys can’t appreciate that their grandparents and aunt and uncle gave them presents, and can’t thank them personally…. But I guess in the end it will just show them how different places celebrate similar holidays differently, and hopefully it will make them more open-minded and tolerant.
This year we’ll be going to the Toulouse area to celebrate Christmas with my hubby’s family, who are originally from the South of France. They have a lot of neat traditions too. Every year my parents-in-law put out the crèche, but they go the whole nine yards and create the village. In France, often, the crèche is made with Santons, hand made clay figurines. The Nativity scene does not only include the typical characters (Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the three wisemen) but also includes all the villagers, cobbler, shepherds, produce sellers, etc. Another tradition celebrated by my family-in-law is Les treize desserts (Thirteen Desserts). I discovered this tradition when I spent my first Christmas with my husband’s family in 2005 and love the idea of making, serving and tasting thirteen desserts symbolizing Christ and his twelve apostles.
Christmas is one of my favorite holidays of the year and I am excited to once again spend it with family and share it with my little family, celebrating traditions, old and new, in the cold weather! Happy Holiday season!