Holidays

Christmas Cheer

I hope you’re having a beautiful holiday season. Having a baby shortly before Christmas (I’ve done that twice now!) means simplifying quite a bit, but it also makes things pretty special. It’s hard not to feel your infant’s sweet spirit as a reminder of another infant long ago…

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Well, maybe less so when they’re screeching at you in the middle of the night 😉

We got to attend a performance of excerpts from Handel’s Messiah this weekend, and it was lovely. Sure, the performance isn’t always perfect (it’s hard not to be spoiled when your father is a professional opera singer!), but during the concert I had a thought that really struck me: Handel’s work — and the message of Soli Deo gloria he penned at the end of his masterpiece — is performed every Christmas season in tiny communities and large cities across the Christian world, and the performers always put in so much spirit and enthusiasm. This work lives on so vibrantly with every reinterpretation. Somehow, the result is always heavenly in my experience.

Jonas was a complete angel, by the way — he seemed entranced by the music at times and kept turning his head to see where the sound was coming from, and he slept for a good portion of the concert. Adelina, on the other hand, was a hoodlum and even got away from Andrew to run across the front of the auditorium at one point… yup, we were that family.

Anyway, I wanted to share a few things I learned last year about creating that “Christmas magic” — when you’re a kid, Christmas is absolutely magical, but as you grow up, you realize that just showing up and expecting that same sparkle isn’t quite the same. Somehow, especially as a parent, you’re now in charge of making the magic happen. A big part of this comes through developing traditions, but also having realistic expectations and putting your effort in the right places. And of course, making sure to put the emphasis on the whole reason for the season. Check out how we planned Christmas last year, and what we were able to experience as a result — a Messiah performance (where my husband participated by playing violin), caroling, gift shopping finished early, service, decorating and sewing and baking… I hope this is helpful to you, it was really simple yet revolutionary for me.

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Like I said, we’ve kept it really simple this year, but we did put up the tree and decorations (of course!) and are listening to plenty of Christmas music (The Lower Lights continue to be a favorite around here). We somehow managed to get out to a performance of the Messiah with two small children, and my husband and I took online surveys to earn gift cards to help pay for Adelina’s Christmas gift (I’m SO excited about this it’s ridiculous: a toy kitchen! She loves playing pretend these days, she’s going to go nuts! PS: If you’re interested in how we earned those gift cards, this is the main website we used; I’d be happy to refer you! It’s not a fast or high-yield endeavor, but if you take surveys regularly it can add up and help make a dent in the holiday budget).

We were also able to raise funds — thanks to our amazingly generous friends! — to donate enough to MiracleFeet to treat one child in the developing world for clubfoot. It’s a cause that has become dear to us since having our son and treating his condition. And since we have to be down in SLC anyway for his treatment, we’re even going to be able to see the Lights at Temple Square — which was a pretty great date early on in our relationship, by the way 🙂

I promise, it doesn’t take much to have a meaningful holiday season, even when it’s a little chaotic all around you (as tends to happen with a newborn).

Finally, here’s a little music to get you in the spirit: my dad singing “O Holy Night” (in the original French) when he was with the USAF Singing Sergeants!

(I know, the photo’s a little cheesy… hopefully he’ll forgive me!) And here’s a beautiful song I wasn’t familiar with until this video came out: The Wexford Carol.

Now go forth and be merry! I’d love to hear what you are doing in your home to celebrate the season!

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