And Just Like That! It’s Over.

I really enjoyed the  Christmas season this year — even more than usual. And I do love Christmas. But this year, it was especially enjoyable. I don’t know why exactly, probably because I took so much more time and effort than usual with our interior decorating. I loved being in my home so much this past month. It probably also helps that we did a quick family room makeover so it was all fresh and new.

holiday home tour

We stayed home this year, another reason I think I enjoyed the Christmas season so much. Being able to celebrate in our own home on our own time without the stress of travel was a luxury. Our family has definitely reached the stage where we are better off staying home for the holidays. It’s funny, when I had younger kids, I didn’t get that at all. But now that they’re older, it is nice to be in our own space.

Christmas Eve was a bit hectic, as we tried to host dinner for friends before our 7pm worship service. Next year, I am making dinner reservations!! I’m marking my calendar NOW so I don’t forget to do that early in the month before the restaurants are booked.

Earlier in the day, somewhere amidst the dinner prep and the gingerbread houses that flopped and the last minute Christmas shopping (procrastinate much??), we arranged to pick up a new piano to surprise my younger daughter for Christmas. Her excitement was worth all the fuss.

gingerbread houses

piano

Christmas Eve is also our older daughter’s birthday so even though we had already celebrated with her earlier in the week, I ordered a small birthday cake to have for her after dinner.

c birthday cake

Ya think I tried to fit in a little too much the day before Christmas??? But that’s how we roll . . .

I enjoyed our simple Christmas Eve lessons and carols service, even though our accommodations leave a lot to be desired. I had a grumpy moment earlier in the week, wishing we could worship our Savior in a beautiful church building with all the aesthetics we have come to expect in a modern American worship service, even considering going somewhere else to have this utopian experience, until the irony hit me like a brick.

Jesus left his heavenly throne and all that glory to be born in a dirty stinky barn so that I can have eternal life, and I am cranky because I have to worship him and celebrate that “less than desirable” birth in a chilly gymnasium? Really, Jo-Lynne???? 

Once I got my head screwed on straight, I happily went to our little gymnasium-church with my family and friends and sang those familiar Christmas carols with gusto. It’s not about the surroundings, after all. Sometimes we need a little reality check, ya know?

Here’s a photo I grabbed with my son before we left. I don’t get him to cooperate for photos very often, and I love this.

D and me

The lighting in that room is always horrid. I don’t know why I bother! Anyway.

We came home after church and wrapped presents until well after midnight. Then we woke up for a leisurely Christmas morning of presents and brunch. I love this picture. It totally captures each of their personalities.

christmas morning

Our Christmas Day was as serene and relaxing as Christmas Eve was hectic and stressful. We enjoyed each other and opened our presents slowly, one at a time. Everyone was thrilled with their loot. (That paper I’m holding is the proof that my husband paid for a year’s subscription to XM Radio. I’m so excited. Our free trial was running out and I was too cheap to pay for it, so he bought it for me for Christmas.)

christmas morning

Later in the day, we got gussied up and drove over to my brother-in-law’s home for dinner. Everything was delicious, and best of all, we got to come home and sleep in our own beds.

Then yesterday afternoon, after a lazy morning hanging out at home, Paul started hauling boxes down from the attic and announced that he was going to take down the live Christmas tree.

You see, my husband has this thing about the Christmas tree being up after Christmas. He can’t stand it. He thinks it’s depressing.

I tried to point out that we aren’t really done with Christmas yet because we are still hosting his family celebration on Sunday, but he wasn’t buying it.

So on December 26th, we took down our tree.

Usually I love the clean, spacious feeling of the room without the tree, but this year, it makes me sad. I was enjoying it so much. I’m really not ready to be done with Christmas. I still have my fancy tree in the living room. I REFUSE to take that down before New Year’s Eve. And it is in my line of sight when I’m sitting at my desk in my office, which, as you know, is where I spend the vast majority of my life, so I’ll have to be satisfied with that.

But that’s it. Christmas is over for all intents and purposes. Our family celebration on Sunday will be our one last hurrah.

I hope you and yours had a lovely holiday. Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a chance to take it easy and relax a bit this week. I will definitely enjoy getting back to our normal routine in January, and I’m excited about some things I have planned for ye olde blawg in 2014. I’m also *this close* to sharing a piece of awesome news that I’ve been sitting on for a few weeks. I want to make sure it’s definitely a go before I make it public, but if it works out, it’s a project that’s going to monopolize my life for the next few months.

So how about you? When do you take your tree down?? Are you sorry to see it go, or are you happy to get your house back??

What was the best part of your holiday this year??