Merry & Bright

I'll mostly let the pictures do the talking. Our first Christmas as a family was very merry and wonderfully bright.

We got up early on Christmas Eve morning, right at the crack of 8am. The whole world was silent outside.  At least it was on our street where half the houses are vacant and the other half are filled with retirees. The rest of the world was probably well into their morning, but we were cozy inside our quiet house, warm in our pajamas

The tree was lit and presents ready to be opened. We open ours a day early to protect the sacred space of Christmas morning for worship alone. Before opening presents, we started a new tradition of reading this book:

Christmas is for Jesus we whispered in Arie's ears as he snuggled between us. Jesus, he whispered back. How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer's ear! Still to young to understand what Christmas means for the world, just uttering the name of our savior is his simple act of worship.  Jesus.

After the story- gifts! We used this simple verse to guide our shopping for Arie: 

Something he wants
Something he needs
Something to wear
Something to read

Two toys: a tool kit and a jack in the box. 
New slippers. 
A scarf. 

Every rip of paper in his hands and delighted da! on his lips was magic. He has been home almost four weeks and everything is still so inspiring to him. I am drinking in every moment of newness in his eyes. Staying in his pajamas, opening gifts, having toys that belong to him, lazy mornings, and the rapt attention of his Mama and Papa- it's all so new and he delights in it as much as we delight in him.

John got a new suit, shoes, and a shirt because all he ever wants are clothes, books, and coffee.  Our book cases are already buckling and we currently have 5 types of coffee in the cupboard... so clothes it was!

John spoiled me like usual with all sorts of foodie items, a scarf, and a beautiful new bracelet.

Breakfast was a traditional Christmas casserole.  To me, anything with mustard powder tastes like the holidays. Also, December 23 just isn't December 23 if you're not up at midnight, browning sausage and cracking eggs for the morning!

After we ate too much casserole and drank a whole pot of coffee, we were dressed and ready to get in the car to head to Gamma and Grandpa's house.
We skipped a couple naps due to all the celebrations so
this became a sweet, common sight.
Along with visiting Gamma and Grandpa, John's sister, newly "Aunt Kitty," flew in from New York to spend her holidays with us! I'll summarize with Aunt Kitty + Arie = LOVE.

I owe my wonderful "likers" on facebook a big thank you for your recipe recommendations! Growing up, my family always ate fondue on Christmas Eve and this year John and I started a new tradition of our own: Christmas Eve is for Russian Cuisine. A small way to embrace our sweet son's heritage as a family. 

Our menu this year was dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), homemade bread, beet salad, potato pancakes, stuffed cabbage, and chocolate cake. My father-in-law commented more than once, "Those Russians eat well!" I'm always impressed with what the Russians have done with such simple ingredients like beets, cabbage, and onion. 

Bellies full, we gathered on the porch to open gifts surrounded by windows and the dark woods all around us.
Arie's sitting with his Papa and Auntie on what it known in our family as "the fish couch." It is a loveseat covered in a fish-centric fabric. Fish, fishing poles, nets, hooks... if it's fishing related there is a picture of it on this couch. John had it in his dorm room when we were in college and we shared our first kiss sitting on this couch.  Ever since that time my father-in-law has been trying to pawn it off on me. Even with the sentimental value behind it, I hate this couch. Why anyone would invent a fish themed upholstery fabric is beyond me.
 After the eve, comes the day! Christmas Day.

John preached his first ever Christmas Day service (and nailed it, might I add), so Arie and I were on our own.  It was a battle of Christmas clothes versus breakfast spills, but the Christmas clothes came out clean and won!

It was also a battle to quick-get-out-the-door-and-to-my-inlaw's-so-we-can-get-a-family-picture-before-anyone-messes-up-their-outfit! and again- outfits won.

Our family Christmas party was great fun and Arie did so well meeting all those new people. Everyone was so respectful of giving him space while still being so warm toward him. It is a hard balance, but John's family is amazing so I'm not surprised they walked it well.

Arie loved eating Christmas cookies for dinner and opening even more gifts. I'm not quite sure how to explain to him that the presents aren't a normal part of our routine. Come January he might suffer from some post-holiday blues!

My in-laws live on a small lake and these cousins went down to see if they could crack the ice off the dock. At this exact moment I realized that I am going to be a very uncool mom when Arie is a pre-teen because I really wanted to tie them all to the dock for safety. Just in case.

It was much safer, warmer, and less risky (more boring??) inside, so that's where I stayed.
(It was a little toasty inside so Arie lost his pants.)
We ended the night with this photo of Aunt Kitty with Grandpa and the cousins wearing their feline inspired fur hats. I have a sister and a sister-in-law but I think we all know who Arie's weird eclectic Aunt is going to be!

Hey- we all need a little bizarre in our lives, don't we? ;-)

Hope your Christmases were equally filled with love and family.

We head out to visit my family in a few days so Christmas Part Two is still to come!

Hope and peace from our family to yours this season,



  1. sweet pictures:) what a wonderful first christmas with arie :D

  2. Anonymous12/26/2012

    I love all the photos - sounds like it was a wonderful celebration for you! -Kami

  3. What beautiful pictures. Merry Christmas!

  4. Arie's first Christmas with Mama and Papa! :) Love seeing this photos. What a tremendous blessing!

  5. The hat pictures are especially awesome! What a wonderful extended family you have been blessed with.
    May 2013 be as amazing as 2012 for you all.


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