it all started with the decision to set up the tree and decorate the house on november 1st -
the day after halloween.
so in the first week of november, halloween came down and christmas went up.
and it wasn't just the decorations either.
it was the music, and the christmas stories, and the holiday scented candles.
most my life i had been opposed to celebrating christmas until thanksgiving had passed,
but not anymore.
i think the two go hand in hand just perfectly.
they're both about giving, and sharing, and spreading love, and being grateful.
in fact this year, we decided we wanted our children to catch the spirit of it all early in the season, and so we volunteered to serve thanksgiving dinner at the local boys and girls club.
last minute, we decided that asher was a little young for it - and might actually end up causing more harm than good - so we got a sitter for him.
but it was such a great experience for ruby to learn and witness for herself the humbling circumstances of so many in our very own community, and then to be able to make a difference in their lives through service.
we helped her to understand that that is exactly where the Savior would have been if he were walking the earth today;
and that he was proud of her for the love and service she gave to these families.
it was a perfect way to kick off the holiday season.
of course, we wanted to give our children more opportunities to do good in the community, to serve, and to give of themselves, that by so doing, they in turn would grow closer to their Savior... and understand more fully what Christmas is really all about;
but it was also important to us that they experience a good deal of the secular fun that christmas has to offer, too.
so the constant battle, and never-ending dilemma,
is how do we ensure that everything actually happens?
how do we maintain the perfect balance?
how do we squeeze it all in?
i often have the best of intentions, but rarely see my ideas come to full fruition because of my lack of planning, or organizing, or whatever it may be.
on thanksgiving, i was talking with my sister-in-law, brooke, who had seen some fun advent activity ideas on pinterest.
she sent me to her page, and after viewing it, indeed my own idea was spawned.
i spent the next couple of days working on an advent garland that had a little gift bag attached to it for each day.
inside the gift - that was to be unwrapped by one of the children each morning - they would find written on a little gift tag, an activity for the day.
we had something planned every day from december 1st to christmas day.
can you now see why i'm totally and completely exhausted?
if i can muster up the energy, i may have to do a post about everything we did...but for now, it wears me out just thinking about it.
and if that wasn't enough, each day we still had to follow clarence's daily antics,
retrieve the candy that he had left for the the children out of the advent house,
go do our activity each evening,
read a christmas story,
and then at the close of each day we had our nativity to do (last year my sister gave us the neatest gift. each night there is a song to sing, a passage of scripture or spiritual thought to read, and a piece of the nativity to add that all correspond with each other. our whole family loved it).
this year we even had someone do the 12 days of christmas for our family, which was a total blast...another nativity scene that the children got to create day by day.
so here's the breakdown of each day:
2) once he is found, they remind us that we have to check the advent house for the two pieces of candy that clarence had left them.
(that's the advent house hiding behind clarence and his stallion)
3) while they gobble down their single piece of candy, they both go running to the door to check for a brown paper bag sitting on our doorstep, which would contain the 12 days of christmas nativity piece.
4) then (and i need to mention that all of this happens before breakfast in the morning), they open the small gift on the advent garland, and both squeal in delight as i read aloud to them our daily activity.
5) that evening we would then complete the activity
6) read a christmas story/book
7) & sing our christmas song, read the scriptural passage or spiritual christmas message, and add a piece to our (other) nativity.
it goes without saying we had a fun, crazy, eventful, meaningful, spiritual, and downright unforgettable december.
honestly and truly, i can't wait to do it all again next year;
but i'd be lying if i said i wasn't just a tiny bit relieved that it's all over with,
and that i can now (just like our dear clarence the elf)
(at least for another day or two, right?)