Very Merry BOGO

Smaller tree or a bigger car?
So I've become more than lackadaisical in my posts.  To correct that, I'm posting this and re-posting an entry from The Family Addiction.  BOGO, you're welcome.  Life is progressing as life is wont to do.  Things have been great, sometimes not so great and sometimes bad, but we are together as a family so that makes things great.  I have two kids who are crazy excited about Christmas.  They have thoroughly enjoyed the decorating, the special tv shows, and they're about to burst into flames from having to wait to open the gifts under the tree.  There have been some magical moments this holiday season.  I often worry about what Sweet Girl and Little Man understand about this holiday.  There is so much sparkly and glamor that it is easy to forget that this started with a baby born in a barn (and we don't really know when, at that).  Church is often difficult for us as it requires stillness and quietness that we are not yet capable of mastering.  And so, like a good mother, I worry about what my children think of all this.

Sweet Girl was NOT supposed to decorate this.

Recently, though I got some insight into the often inscrutable minds of the short people with whom I reside.  As we got out the Christmas decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving, Sweet Girl and Little Man proved that they are, after all, my children.  Christmas is one of my favorite times of year.  I love the traditions my family shared as my siblings and I grew up {Or at least aged, some of us still aren't that mature - not naming names though.  That would be immature.}, and I love that this season is about love in its variety of forms.  However, these are difficult concepts to grasp if communication is difficult for you.  So my eyes leaked, my heart grew, and mind filled itself with mental pictures as my children - without prompting - put up their Hermie bags.  Hermie is my family's pajama elf.  He leaves pajamas for everyone on Christmas Eve.  They usually arrive while everyone is out at Christmas Eve services and everyone dons their (usually) matching attire to while the hours away until morning.  There are many awkward family photos of me and my siblings wearing a variety of pajamas and Santa hats.  But I wasn't sure that my children knew how awesome this elf business is; clearly I was wrong.

Holiday hats are the best.
Then Sweet Girl surprised me again.  I had started to dig out the tree ornaments, and left to her own devices my daughter made three trips to the basement and back.  She needed three trips to bring up all the pieces to her Fisher-Price Little People nativity set.  This is the only child-resistant nativity we own and until I find a shelf that I can hang high enough for my children not to reach yet low enough to be seen, it's the only nativity we put out in plain sight.  When Sweet Girl had all of her pieces upstairs, she cleared off the table where we put the nativity last year and began assembling the manger scene.  When I walked in to the kitchen, she had the Holy Family in the creche amongst a millieu of barnyard animals.  With a watery voice I asked her what she was doing.  She replied: "I'm all ready for Jesus birthday!"  And then I cried a little.  Happily.  Because she remembered why we do this.  And though she is mostly motivated by the party, she remembers (and has corrected her earlier pronunciation faux pas: we used to party for "baby Cheez-Its" which is neither gluten-free or casein-free) what got this whole thing started.  And so, like any good mother, I happily cried a little more while seeing the big miracle through my miracle.  Welcome, Christmas indeed!

I originally planned to review the third and final installment of Mr. Larsson's Girl series, but I'm not quite finished (the holidays are getting the in the way of my reading) and this is the book that's been read the most here at our house.  So I thought I'd tell you all the reasons I love this book (and the old-school cartoon that is still occasionally on TV around this time of year).  It comes highly recommended by all members of this family, except Oreo for reasons to be discussed.

The following is an excerpt from my review of How the Grinch Stole Christmas  from The Family Addiction:

1.  You can't stop Christmas from coming.
If you don't know me or follow my personal blog then you might not know I have two really awesome kids.  My daughter is four and a half, an exceptional singer, crazy smart, outrageously courageous, and was diagnosed with autism before she was two years of age.  One of her greatest challenges is communicating.  When faced with communication issues, a family must decide on what the heart of most matters is and focus on that.  For example, there's Christmas.  A lot of stuff comes along with Christmas as a holiday, but what's really the heart of the matter; what do I want my daughter to really understand?  I want her to understand that Christmas is about perfect love.  For those with a christian faith, the perfect love comes in the form of a baby.  It comes in other forms for other faiths, and for those who do not believe in a particular religion or faith this time of year has the potential to be (possibly really annoying) full of community and family spirit.  That's what I want her to understand.  Christmas, for us the birth of a baby that would try to teach us to love one another, comes whether there are presents under the tree, stockings, or rare Who roast-beast.  So the Grinch can do his worst, but Christmas will still come.  Don't worry.  She's getting presents.  But at least we're working on not focusing on them as the sole purpose of the holiday.

The Grinch and I have something in common.  We both hate the noise of all the toys and merriment.  That is not to say I hate to hear children having a good time, it's just that my kids are LOUD.  But the Grinch reminds me that I shouldn't be a party-pooper and let the kids (and any loud adults in the area, hhmmm...who could that be?) have their fun.  I can buy ear plugs and not ruin everyone's joy.

3.  Giggles or Oreo's Lament
The first time we read this book both of my kids immediately giggled at the sight of Max, the Grinch's dog for the uninitiated, with a horn tied on his head with red thread.  Oreo immediately gave me stink eye for putting ideas in my son's head.  They giggled as tiny Max pulled the over-sized sleigh up to the top of Mt. Crumpit. Oreo continued to give me stink eye.  Then they watched the cartoon version, in which Max has a larger role.  My son fell over (granted he's not quite two so take that for what it's worth) he laughed so hard as Max attempted to catch bags of stolen presents, trimmings, and trappings being shoved up the chimbleys. That's the kind of noise I can handle.  Even if Oreo's stink eye continues to this day.  He needs the exercise it takes to run away from Grinch imitators.

4.  Welcome Christmas
This is really just a reprise of #1.  This is book if fun to read.  The pictures are magically Seussical.  But the message is what I really like.  We didn't read this book last year, but I wish we did.  We were missing my husband while he was in Afghanistan and we could have used the reminder that Christmas is about love - whether its near or far.  When I hear my daughter sing herself to sleep at night with the song from the cartoon, my heart grows three sizes.  We don't need  all the presents, food, and decorations.  They're all really, really nice, but not essential for Christmas to come.

Welcome Christmas
While we stand
Heart to heart
And hand in hand
Christmas Day
Will always be
Just as long
As we have we

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, A Very Merry Day to you all!



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