Favorite Christmas Memories of 2018


This month went by super fast, but I have to say that we enjoyed every second of it.  There was shopping, decorating, laughing, and singing along with some adventure and even a Christmas miracle.  If I wasn't lazy, I probably could have created ten blog posts about all of these events, but since it's now the end of the month, I will give you the abbreviated version in one post.  Here are my top ten favorite memories, provided in chronological order:

1.  The Christmas Photo Shoot

For the past two years, I have been obsessed with having family Christmas jammy photos. If we had a photographer in the family, I would hire him or her in a heartbeat, but since we have no such luck, our next best option is going to our local JC Penny Portrait Studio.

This year we took a morning off from school and work for the photo shoot.  For one, weekday mornings are way more peaceful as they avoid the mobs of families waiting to take their pictures on weekday evenings and weekends.  Second, we look refreshed because we just showered.  (Last year, after a full day of work, I had to reapply my makeup, and I still looked tired!)  Here are just a few of my favorite pictures this year...

2.  The Cub Scout Holiday Party

Hubby and I were in charge of offering the holiday entertainment at this year's Cub Scout Christmas / Holiday Party.  Lew played the guitar, Little Lewie rang the bells, and I lead everyone in song to "Jingle Bells," "The Jingle Bell Rock," "Frosty the Snowman," Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."  We have a lot of young boys in our pack this year (Lions at age five and Tigers at age six), so they were EXCITED when Santa came to visit.

These were the adorable cupcakes a mom made for the kids.  Gosh, I wish I had this talent!

3.  Don't Be a Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggins

I love the movie Elf.  I had a chance to watch it along with some of my other favorite holiday classics like A Christmas Story and A Christmas Story 2.  At work (I work for a college), our financial aid office decorated their door with one of my favorite Elf quotes:

The door gave me so much joy, I had to take a picture.  Plus, for all of December, this became my favorite phrase.  I would tell Lewie to stop being "a Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggins" whenever he failed to do the following:  close the outside door, put on his coat, forget where he took off his shoes, ask for too many desserts, etc. etc.

4.  The Holiday House Tour

Every year, my mom and I go to Woodbury, Connecticut for their annual Holiday House Tour.  (It's been a tradition for us since the year 2000; we only missed two years in between due to sickness and snow.)  Each year, the Women's Club of Woodbury select six different houses for us to view that range from the 1600's to modern times.  While I enjoy seeing some of the newer homes, which are usually big, bright, and spacious, my favorite homes are those that date back to the Revolutionary War era.  With their low ceilings, squeaky wood floors, and their tilted staircases, these older homes really have character.  Plus, many of such homeowners like to decorate their houses with period pieces, which truly provide a glimpse of what it must have been like to live "back in the day."  As a big fan of HGTV, I could honestly tour houses all day long.  Words cannot explain how much I look forward to this tour every year!

This year we toured an old, one-room school house from the early 1800's.  Here were some items on the teacher's desk.

It's the little touches that make some of these Christmas tress so beautiful.

I would die for a kitchen like this!

5.  Pushy Santa

Admittedly, I didn't have much time to cook this month.  Oh, who am I kidding?  As a full-time working mom that also teaches a college English class and is a volunteer for our town library, church, and Cub Scout program, my family and I live on smoothies, salads, and frozen dinners--plus dessert.  One day in December we decided to go to our local diner for a "real meal" and discovered that joy of joys, Santa was there in the flesh to take pictures with all the boys and girls in the restaurant.  We hardly had a chance to sit down at our booth when Santa and his elf came over and insisted that Lewie needed to come into the next room for a picture.  (Evidently, there weren't many kids in the restaurant, and Santa felt like he needed to earn his keep.)

I went with Little Lewie into the other room while my husband held our table and waited for our food.  Lewie didn't say anything, but he politely stood by Santa for the picture.  This, of course, was not how it's supposed to go.  Santa insisted that Lewie sit on his lap, so he could tell him what he wanted. Lewie obliged, and we took the picture, but afterwards, we all agreed that his man earned the title of "Pushy Santa."

6.  Our Christmas Tree  

I have to laugh when I think about the antics of getting our "real" Christmas tree this year.  Usually we have time to pick one out during the first few weekends of December, but this year, we were busy with the visit to Santa's Village, then Cub Scout activities, and then the Holiday House Tour.  I somehow thought places would be open to pick up a tree on a weekday evening, but we drove to a place rather far away on a Wednesday night and had no such luck.  (Next time, I'll call before making the trip!)

On the third weekend of December, we decided the easiest solution would be to buy two trees (one for us and one for my mom) from our local fire department and have them deliver them to us in their firetruck.  On Saturday morning (December 15th), Little Lewie and I drove by the firehouse several times only to see that there were no trees in their parking lot.  Hmmm....  We called and found out there were only three trees left (in back of the building).  Little Lewie and I hauled ass back to our car again and drove down as fast as we could.  One tree was much too large for us, so we settled on the two smaller trees.  Who cared what they looked like...we needed a tree--two trees to be exact!  I won't bother telling you when we finally ended up decorating the said trees.  I won't even go into the story about how we needed to buy two brand new tree stands.  The moral of the story is that our Charlie Brown Christmas tree ended up looking beautiful, and since it went up late, it will stay up until February.  The end.

Our trees being delivered by our very own volunteer fire department.  They are the best!
Here they come...

The final product...not bad for one of the last trees on the lot!

7.  Santa's Letter

Last year I knew Little Lewie still believed in Santa Claus, but this year felt different.  He said he knew the Santa at Santa's Villlage "wasn't the real Santa" because "the real Santa didn't have time to take pictures."  Thus, I knew he wasn't going to be fooled by the Santa at the Cub Scout Holiday Party or the one at the Route 67 Diner either.  Still, does he believe there's a "real Santa"?

No less, he wrote a very nice letter to Santa and made sure to decorate it with lots of holiday stickers.  Then, we followed our time-honored tradition of mailing it at our local post office by placing it in the "special Santa mailbox."  (Within a week, Santa mailed back a letter letting us know it was received--I love our Post Office!)

8.  The Children's Christmas Mass

Every year, our church has a 9:15 a.m. children's mass where each child takes turns putting their handmade ornaments on the tree.   As a forth grader, Lewie has now celebrated this tradition for four years.  It's a joy being part of this tradition, and yet, I was a little sad this year because he's seen as one of the "big kids" now.  The tradition will stop for him next year in fifth grade.

9.  Christmas Morning

Lewie woke up at 5:50 a.m. to open his presents on Christmas morning.  I had just gone to bed at 3 a.m.  Yay for me!  Daddy woke up for most of it but then fell back to sleep in his recliner.  No matter how early it was in the morning, Lewie's excitement was priceless.  He already thought he'd get the xbox gift card and the drawing tablet for his computer--the two main gifts he requested from Santa in his letter.  Still, he was equally excited about the smaller gifts like the books from his favorite authors (Brave by Svetlana Chmakova and Posted by John David Anderson), the pineapple reindeer ornament (Lewie had an ongoing joke about pineapples this year), and his chocolate Kisses.

As he gets older, more and more of his interests are computer related, which means wanting new computer applications, games and software that are "in the cloud" and not easily wrapped.  On the one hand, it does take a little bit of the excitement away from Christmas but at the same time, it also saves the environment on the waste of unnecessary wrapping and paper.  In the end, it's the joy of giving, no matter what form, that means the most.

He woke up so super early in the morning.  It felt like midnight.

I made his take photos again when the sun came out.

10.  The Great Miracle

Christmas itself celebrates a miracle, but we had our own miracle in our little family.  Early this year, our beloved aunt found out she has stage four ovarian Cancer.  She was sick for Easter, for Lewie's First Communion, for Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, her birthday, our birthdays, and even Thanksgiving.  After many rounds of Chemo, her doctors decided it was time to perform surgery, and so on Dec. 12th, she was admitted into Yale New Haven Hospital with nothing more than a hope and a prayer (actually many prayers).

That same day, the doctor claimed the surgery to be a success, and we were allowed to bring her home to our house a week later.  Now, we are not saying the Cancer is completely gone.  There will be another round of Chemo and more tests for 2019, but over the course of the week that she stayed at our house, we watched her health, her strength, and her vitality drastically improve.  When she first came home, she could barely lay in the recliner or eat anything.  When she left to go back to her house (yesterday), she was walking, dressing herself, climbing stairs, eating well, smiling, laughing and telling stories.  We had her for Christmas, and she was happy, vibrant, and dare I say, healthy.  Our prayers were answered, and Little Lewie was beyond elated as Aunty Kiki (as she's affectionately known) was able to spend quality time with us after missing her for almost the entire year.

(Aunty Kiki is hugging Little Lewie in this picture.  I don't have a Christmas photo as she was still recuperating.)
So, this December was filled with joy, laughter, adventure, worry, and then an answer to our prayers.  I am so thankful for these wonderful memories, and even more, the ability to make more of them in 2019.  How lucky are we!

This Kid (Age 10)


It's hard to believe, but Little Lewie turned 10 four months ago...  Thankfully, the pre-teen and teen years haven't hit.  Lewie is just as sweet as ever, and he still has a wild and crazy imagination...

This kid...

1) Loves superhero movies.  A few weeks ago, we had a discussion about super powers.  I told him if I had super powers, I would like to be able to fly and make myself invisible.  Lewie said he'd like to be able to "teleport."  When asked why a ten year old would want to teleport, he exclaimed, "So I can teleport into and out of my pajamas."  Evidently, this kid's not fond of the whole five minutes it takes him to put on his PJs every night.

2) Loves video games.  Fortnight, Roblox, Splatoon, and MineCraft are his recent favorites, but I will also catch him playing a random Mario and Lego game, too.  He enjoys creating his own characters the most.  For a while, his Fortnight character carried a birthday cake on his back.  Now he has a backpack with a dog.  His Roblox character sports headphones and antlers (with other interesting clothing combinations...)

3) Is doing well in forth grade.  His first report card came out with a glowing assessment of his progress this term.  Every week he brings home a 100% on his spelling quiz, which gets placed proudly on my fridge.  I had to stop keeping all of them on there at once as I ran out of magnet power to hold them.

4) Is a Webelo Cub Scout.  Camping, hiking, first aid, and learning what it takes to be a good citizen are all topics during our biweekly den meetings.  Just last week, Lewie received first aid training at our firehouse and then got to ride inside our town's fancy new firetruck.  I wanted to go, but there wasn't enough room for the leaders and parents.

5) Is a clown.  This boy tells more jokes than anyone I know.  For Halloween, he took it upon himself to learn a whole bunch of jokes about bones.  Here's just a few for your enjoyment (because I'm sure learning bone jokes is an item on your bucket list...)

What did the skeleton say before dinner?  BONE-appetit.
What, did you find that HUMERUS?  I bet that one tickled your funny BONE.
I have a lot of homework, a  SKELE-TON.
What is a skeleton's favorite instrument?  A trom-BONE.

6)  Is wise and can be a wise guy.  At swimming lessons, he called me out.  "Mommy, put away your cell phone and watch me swim.  You're supposed to be paying attention to your son."

7)  Is sentimental.  He sleeps with his stuffed tiger, Tigey, as well as his first baby blanket.  He's still not interested in changing the theme of his bedroom.  "But mom, the duck border is so cute!"

8)  Loves his family.  Big Lew and I had a chance to be in Little Lewie's classroom for Junior Achievement last month.  Even in front of all his classmates, he still wanted to give us a hug goodbye.  He's known for requesting "family movie nights" or wanting to spend time walking, reading, or playing outside games together.  Lately, he's been playing the drums/cow bell with Big Lew.   He very innocently proposed that the two of them should call themselves, "The Three Stick Band."