wrapping up christmas

My family packed up our Christmas decorations today, and the house seems so bare.

Although it seems as though we have been celebrating for weeks, I am still sad to wrap up this Christmas holiday.  It was definitely one of the best Christmases I have had, mostly because I was able to experience it with a very enthusiastic two year old.

Little J was able to experience many fun holiday traditions for the first time. Some of them were firsts for me as well.

To kick off the season, we went to the Festival of Trees and Eaton's Once Upon a Christmas Display, both at the Western Development Museum back in November.  The Enchanted Forest Holiday Light Tour, which opened November 19 and ends January 9, was another holiday highlight. (I guess we literally have been celebrating for weeks, after all!)

Singing with Sylvia's Dec. 17 Christmas concert also helped to get us in the spirit early on. One of Sylvia's songs also inspired me to tackle a holiday first -- Christmas baking. Little J loved helping for the first 30 minutes or so, but even I grew bored by the sixth hour in the kitchen. (I will approach this tradition a little differently next year.)

We also exercised our crafty sides by fingerpainting large sheets of box filler for handmade wrapping paper.  Little J just beamed when we gave a gift and would say that he helped bake it or decorate it! 

We decorated our little Charlie Brown Christmas tree -- a ghost of University Dorm-Room Christmases Past, but the perfect size for my elf-sized helper to decorate. Several times I caught Little J plopped down in front of the tree closely examining each ornament. We added a new ornament this year from our little photo session with Santa at Market Mall. We also made a point to visit the day that the live reindeer were there.

This was the Monchuk Christmas year, so we were at my in-laws' farm Dec. 23 - 27. The weather and scenery were spectacular this year and there was a ton of fun things for Little J and his cousins to do outside. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows in the snow, sleded lots, made snow slides and watched a family of four moose hang out around the farm on Christmas Eve.

The kids also enjoyed decorating a gingerbread house, playing together, watching Christmas movies and, perhaps most of all, the guest-appearance from "Uncle" Santa. 

The five pounds I gained that week were not due to the 19-week-old child within, but a result of the traditional 12-dish meatless Ukrainian meal on Christmas Eve, the traditional North American turkey meal on Christmas Day and the traditional Boxing Day ham-and-bun lunch and bakefest. Oh, and the leftovers. Lots and lots of delicious leftovers. (Maybe it's a good thing that this holiday has come to an end before too much ends up on my back end.)

There are so many lovely memories from this season that were not able to be captured among the hundreds of pictures I took. Like Little J singing the full chorus of a song for the first time: "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle aw daway! Oh wat fuh, ih to wide, one haws open say-HAY!" He also loved to go through all of Santa's reindeer's names as well as the names of those in our living room Nativity scene.

Yes, I was a bit sad to slide that last Christmas box on the shelf today. But, I look forward to the next holiday season with childlike anticipation now that I've had a taste of what it is like to celebrate it alongside a child.

I hope you and your family have had a wonderful season as well! I would love to hear about some other fun holiday traditions and activities with kiddos. Feel free to share in the comments below. 




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