Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas this year was FANTASTIC.

Kate insisted on wearing her "pretty dress" before we could even go to the living room Christmas morning

It was very different from Christmases in the past.

First of all, Jon and I were in classes up until December 18th, so it kind of squishes the month down, with finals happening so close to Christmas.

Because of that, though, I did not have time to worry about Christmas. We majorly simplified, and just did what we could. The result was that the most important things were done (spending memorable moments with our family and friends) and the other stuff did not happen (wrapping paper was not bought, so some presents weren't wrapped, dinner was uber-casual buffet style with paper plates, the tree was set up the week before Christmas, I did not do an advent calendar, paper snowflakes, sugar cookies, or any crafting or sewing that I had originally intended to.)

AND, it was the best Christmas that I can remember.

Kate is finally into holidays and birthdays, so she gets really excited about everything that is happening. Edwin gets excited right along with her, even though he doesn't really know what's going on. They each got two or three presents from us, and a pomegranate and marshmallow tree was all that was in their stockings--AND THEY LOVED IT.

"There's a hole in this cake!"

We opened gifts (after the kids slept in until 9:30am) and then my mom came over and we exchanged presents (which Kate and Edwin really enjoyed helping with!)

and we got to watch The Santa Clause as a family.

The entire living room floor wasn't covered in a cascade of overflowing presents from the base of the tree, but we were very spoiled by friends and family sending us packages. We received so much that we wanted and needed, and are extremely grateful!

opening gifts with Gram

Christmas away from our big family groups is definitely not the same. Alston/Joyner MexItalia feasting on Christmas Eve just doesn't taste exactly right without 25 people running around singing Christmas carols and re-enacting the nativity. But we have been able to start new traditions, and Christmas is still beautiful in our wintry white Idaho wonderland.

Jon had to work on Christmas Eve, but came home on his lunch break so that we could do our family tradition of raviolis and spanish rice with refried beans and ceasar salad. ;)

That evening we went to the Thomas' house (a friend that Jon works with is also the son of the professor I TA'd for last Winter semester) and they included us in their Swedish Christmas Eve dinner with grandparents and neighbors. :) After Babushka's story of looking for the Christ child, we headed home in the snow. Kate and Edwin both fell asleep in the car, so Jon and I took a detour into the neighborhood across the street from our place and watched some dancing Christmas lights set to music, then read the story of Christ's birth from Luke 2 and went home.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads!

Kate and Edwin each got a Family History coloring book, a traditional toy (colored building blocks for Edwin and a wooden tool set for Kate--because she loves helping Jon with his tools at home), and a homemade gift (pretend make-up kit for Kate, and hand burned alphabet cube blocks for Edwin).

Friends and family gifted us some really awesome and thoughtful things!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mug for Jon's stocking, to add to our collection

love love love love love!

We also got to Skype with Jon's family. It's the last time that a big group of the Alston's will be together for Christmas for a couple years since Jon's parents leave for their mission in England next month!

Best of all we were able to spend Christmas dinner with my mom and great friends from the ward who stayed in Rexburg for the break:

It's so great to have awesome people around us wherever we go. :)

Overall, I felt like this Christmas couldn't have been any better. I didn't worry about who got how much of whatever. I didn't step foot in the mall once. I didn't stuff our stockings with junk. Did I feel a little bad that I wasn't able to put everything in Jon's stocking that he had traditionally as a kid? A little. Was I hoping to pull more than half of the Christmas decorations out of the storage tub? Yeah. But when I asked Kate what Christmas was, she told me it was Jesus' birthday. And I didn't once worry about doing enough or being enough. I wasn't up late stressed about wrapping presents that were only going to be unwrapped anyway. Half the Christmas cards were sent out Thanksgiving week, and the other half were sent out a few days ago. HAHA. I wasn't stressed leading up to Christmas day, and our holiday was relaxing and full of laughter and excitement and movies and food and friends. I was able to see just how blessed we are, and I didn't have to force any of it to try and be magical. The important things were taken care of.

We are most grateful for the little family thousands of years ago that lived humble and simple lives, so that we could have SO much. Honoring our Savior's birth is the most important thing of all.

#ASaviorIsBorn -- click the picture for more!

We hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas and will have a Happy New Year's eve and start to 2016!

Love, The Alston Family

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