Christmas 2016

Is January 6 too late to say, "Merry Christmas?"

Yea. It is, isn't it?

After our holiday celebrations I edited our photos and then our family was hit with a virus. So we've been sniffling and coughing and wincing over sore throats and I've been trying to be three moms in one as I've juggled two miserable babies and a sick six-year-old whose patience I try hard not to take for granted. To say I've been stretched this week would be... accurate.

But Fridays are my husband John's day off so while he juggles our still-sick-but-thankfully-improving babies (Arie is back to school) I'm taking a few moments to write about our Christmas!

Our first Christmas as a family of five.

This was our fifth Christmas with Arie. Since the tradition of opening gifts on Christmas Eve morning is so memorable, it always makes me notice how much Arie has matured over the years. Some things are exactly the same like the way his body becomes a living exclamation point, jumping and jittering with glee over the excitement. I love that about him. He never fails to add so much joy to our day! Other things have changed as he has grown: he is more interested in watching me and John open gifts (and the twins, this year), and more verbally expressive. Where he used to squeal and shout  over his gifts he now launches into paragraphs of plans on how he imagines using each toy later in the day or in the coming week. "I'm going to... and then... and maybe I can.... or I'll..."

Love that boy.

The twins were at such a perfect age to enjoy Christmas because they were just old enough to take pleasure in the process of unwrapping a gift. They just loved ripping the paper off their new toys! Ira concentrated on crinkling the strips in his hands while Roman immediately wanted to put everything in his mouth. We spent half of our gift-opening time fishing soggy chunks of paper from Roman's mouth.

This was my favorite picture from the morning:

Seeing all three boys under the tree made me think of how thankful I am for them: my three greatest gifts in life!

We spent Christmas Day with John's family...

...and then travelled to Ontario to be with mine on the 26th. Counting Christmas Eve with our nuclear family, Christmas Day with John's, the 27th with mine, and then the 28th with my Dad's, Arie declared with awe that we had, "FOUR CHRISTMASES!" this year. It made me smile to think how hectic we adults think of the holidays sometimes while the children revel in the chaotic abundance. I too loved the wealth of family time I experienced as a child, having Christmas with my parents and siblings, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles.

I was talking about this experience with my mom one evening and she told me, "I remember when we would visit my aunts and uncles over Christmas, I would lay in bed with my cousins listening to the grown ups laughing downstairs and feel so happy."

Same. There was nothing better at the holidays as a child than being infected with the contagious happiness of all the adults in my life. I see it in Arie too: he is never happier than when we are with family, filling the house or rental hall with loud conversation and boisterous laughs. Family and friends are such treasures. Though is was certainly tiring for us to do all our traveling and visiting over the holidays, it was worth every ounce of energy spent. It also helps me to project into the future when our boys will be grown and have families of their own. Though it is exhausting to have three young ones right now, I know they will grow up blessed to have each other as brothers and John and I will someday be beaming to have them and their own families squished around a too-small dining table brimming with food as my parents were this Christmas.

I re-read a blog post by Sarah Bessey as I geared myself up for the holidays this year and I loved this line about these little years:  "We get to hold the wonder and sleepiness, the boring and the magical at the same time, the work and the delight, the mundane repetition and the ferocious love altogether, it’s not one or the other."

Indeed. It's both. Very much both for me right now. I've never been so exhausted and totally sleep deprived but I've never laughed so much, enjoyed so much, cuddled so much, or been so completely fulfilled. Truly I can hardly wait to sleep again but in the meantime, I embrace the both-ness of this season. 

Two wise women spoke into my life and over my sleepiness this Christmas. One was my Oma via my mom. My mom is empathetic to a fault; as she lamented my exhaustion to my Oma- her own mom- my Oma responded in the dually firm and encouraging way that she often manages to do by listing the far more serious struggles other family members are currently facing. "The sleeplessness? It's only temporary," she concluded, "And Jillian is handling it well." (Well, mostly. I do have my moments.) 

Her words helped give my mom a hopeful perspective. When she recounted them to me I laughed and remarked that to a woman who live through such tragedies as: WWII, nursing her own mother on her deathbed, becoming a widow with two young children and a baby, and loosing a son in adulthood as my Oma has, a year or so of sleep deprivation is entirely manageable. There are far worse things! That encourages me that if she can do that, I can do this. 

The other was an aunt, mother two three adult children and grandmother to one- soon two- who replied tenderly to my woes of exhaustion, "People are going to tell you to just let them cry. DON'T YOU LISTEN!" 

I know everyone parents differently but I just cannot leave my babies to cry it out and her words were so affirming to me. The sleeplessness is hard enough without feeling like it is your fault as a mom because you are doing it wrong. My dad and all his siblings are all tender parents and I have been encouraged by their soft approaches on more than one occasion. I remember when my sister-in-law had her baby shower all the guests had to give a word of advice about parenting. My dad's sisters shared encouragement about being a responsive parent, soft and gentle. "Hold your babies," they said. "Wipe their tears." "Pick them up when they cry." I am encouraged to know I come from a family of gentle parents and my choice to pick up and soothe my babies is just fine. These women make me remember that I am not going to look back in my old age and regret holding my babies too much. 

So there it is: Christmas was exhausting and wonderful. I hope yours was wonderful. I hope less exhausting than mine, but if it was exhausting I hope wonderful all the same. 

Happy New Year, lovely readers! 



  1. Our granddaughter was 91/2 months at Christmas. Same as Roman tearing off paper, pulling it into pieces then into her mouth. ❤😂

  2. Babies cry because they need us. There is a always a reason, sometimes the reason is they need us to hold them..You are so right. They grow up so fast. I love the description of "soft parenting". You will never regret listening to your heart. Do what feels right, and don't look back.

    1. Totally agree. Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. With our first two children,we were so young. I looked to others who told me I could hold them too much and they would be rotten children. Being prideful parents, we took that to heart. I look back and regret allowing my children to "cry it out". Our third came to us at 8 days old and having a bit more experience,we don't do cry it out. I actually just rocked her to sleep for the 4th time after a long no nap day. I'm also different because though I was a good mom to my first two, the only advice I offer, unless someone asks specifics, is listen to your gut. You are your babies advocate, you've got this!


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