Having children definitely makes a difference. I'm thinking that's why I've got Christmas spirit already and I know it's also because I've been to Mass three weeks in a row now. I'm not sure how long this hiatus has been but I broke it by going to the new parish right up the street. Mass is held at the high school but the actual church is scheduled to be ready by Christmas. How exciting - it's a beauty from the outside. Jackson has gone with me the last two weeks and I am really into having him attend with me. Today we brought home the advent wreath I'd ordered a few weeks ago and installed it on the dining room table. Must go look up the Advent prayers to say when we light it. Growing up we never did this in the home but I really like the idea.
Thanksgiving was a blast - the meal turned out to be excellent with the exception of my mashed potatoes. Having the Russin's, their kids, and the Levy's here felt right - just like family. The topper of the evening was Kate warming up to Stacey's dad and us teaching her to call him Poppa Don. So very cute.
In addition to Jackson's birthday in a couple of weeks we have Annette & Jeff's visit to look forward to the weekend before Christmas. My plan is to have their gifts wrapped and ready when they get here and also have the tree up - either decorated already or with lights only so we can all do it together over the weekend.
For Jackson's birthday, with the help of an idea from a friend, I suggested that rather than a house party we take him and invite a few friendsto see Disney on Ice. I'm going to ask the mom's this week, buy the tickets now, and hopefully go shortly after the New Year. Jackson is definitely not a Chuck E. Cheese's kid and neither am I!! So rather than being slighted by having a birthday close to Christmas, Jackson will have the cupcakes at school, a cake and gifts at home with family, and a special outing with friends to look forward to.
Both kids are so much fun right now. Jackson being potty trained has made life easier and so has Kate walking and feeding herself fairly well. She's starting to really parrot every word she hears and can follow simple directions like "please put this in Alex's room". Very exciting and rewarding to watch them grow and learn new things. Jackson's "big" gift this Christmas is a RoboRaptor - remote control dinosaur skeleton looking thing. I hope he's as pleased with it as he is excited to get it. It's already bought and safely tucked away in the garage until I start with my gift wrapping - which will happen shortly - possibly even this week. Which reminds me, I need to locate the Christmas cards I stashed away last year.
I think the big key to the holiday excitement for me this year is Jackson being old enough to start teaching about the fact that Christmas is really fundamentally about Jesus' birthday and taking him to Mass with me. Knowing Kate is old enough now to really get excited when she opensher gifts, having a houseful of people here for Thanksgiving, the pre-Christmas visit with Annette & Jeff - and maybe the underlying new level of peace I've achieved about the rift with my sister and the fact that my family loves both of us and is stuck in the middle - It's all adding up to make me feel that this is and will continue to be a very meaningful holiday season.
And I thank God for that!!