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Elf on the Shelf and Santa… to partake or not to partake…

For as long as I can remember, I am talking early teens, I have always vowed that I was going to be the parent who didn’t go with the whole “Santa” thing. When I was younger, I would joke that it was because I wanted my future child to be the kid in kindergarten who tells all the other kids that Santa isn’t real. The thought of that always amused me.

As I got older, I realized what a jerk my younger self was, but despite the change in my reasoning, I still debate about the whole Santa thing. Not to sound righteous or pretentious or anything like that, but I think Santa is an excuse to bribe kids into being good for the last month of the year. I think it complete takes away from the spirit and meaning behind the holidays, and I am just not real cool with that.

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I get this might be the naivety of being a new mom, but I feel like I can instill in Turner the meaning of Christmas, the true meaning and purpose behind the holiday, while still showering him with gifts. I don’t feel like I need a big jolly stranger to help me get the point across. I understand that a lot of parents do the whole Santa thing because they want to experience the excitement and awestruck wander the myth brings around the holidays. That is magical and special, and I love that as well. So I am torn. Of course Andrew has different views, and he tends to be the boss, so any hesitation I have will be defeated by whatever the boss says, but still, I can’t help but think that buying into the whole Santa thing, without a healthy balance and education of Christ’s birth, is doing my child a disservice.

I am sure Santa will be a prominent name in our house as Turner grows up, I just hope that he grows up with the understanding that it is for fun, a game, and doesn’t carry any weight.

I also am confident, that as we introduce Santa, we will introduce the Elf on the Shelf. Turner actually already has one, and I am pretty excited about it. We haven’t opened it yet, Turner is only a year and half and would have no concept of what it means yet. But maybe next year. Regardless, I think it is fun. I want to introduce the little guy, but once again, I want it to be about fun and a family tradition, kind of like baking cookies or watching a Charlie Brown Christmas.

Also, I get that the Elf on the Shelf is a new thing, can we please take a second to think about how much money the creators have made?? But anyway, so the Elf is new, and Facebook is the first thing everyone thinks about… but I am not the biggest fan of parents sharing what their elf is up to every single night. Ain’t nobody got time for that. If you come up with a super cute, creative, activity for your elf… then I get it… please share so other parents can get inspiration, but each morning my newsfeed is filled with pictures of Elves taking Hersey Kiss or peppermint poops.

Maybe I am just a bad person. But I just don’t love that. Even typing this makes me feel like the Grinch.

I think my main concern with Christmas is that I am afraid that I won’t be able to teach Turner the significance of it, when there are so many other things like presents, elves, Santa, reindeer and other nonsense that dilute the real meaning. Sure I can tell him the story of Christ until I am blue in the face… but can that compete with a magically pooping elf who causes cute little trouble and a big jolly guy who magically flies around the world and brings presents to all the good little boys and girls? I really hope so, but unfortunately, I am not convinced.

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Turner’s first Christmas is in the books

I hope everyone had an amazing holiday with their families. We certainly did! With Turner being only seven months old, I didn’t expect much out of his first Christmas. He can’t really open presents, the lights of the tree didn’t really awe him, and we couldn’t play any fun Elf on the Shelf games, but despite being skeptical, it was a wonderful first Christmas.

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My house currently looks like Santa threw up on it. The Christmas tree, which is still up, has spread pine needles all over the floor, we have toys and clothes scattered all over the place, and left over cookies and food is stuffed in any cabinet we can find. I think the mess is a good indicator of how much fun we enjoyed as a family and let everything else go.

Our amazing family and friends got Turner more toys than he could possible ever even realize he has. He may be able to give each one of them at least one good play by next Christmas. He was definitely spoiled rotten.

I was afraid of what this Christmas would be like, considering it was the first Christmas since my dad died. I was really afraid I would be sad and not be able to enjoy all that I have been blessed with, but I wasn’t sad. I felt comforted, as if my dad was right there with us. Last Christmas my dad got Turner a set of rattles. I saved them and this Christmas wrapped them up and let Turner open them for himself. It was nice to still have a piece of my dad here. I plan to of course save the rattles and have threated Andrew with his life not to throw away the box. Since dad died before Turner was born, those toys were the only thing my dad was ever able to get for Turner. They are more important to me than I could possibly ever explain. After Christmas with my family, I went to my dad’s gravesite. I wanted to take Turner there, but he was sleeping so I went by myself. I haven’t found full closure yet, but being able to go there and talk to my dad helps a little each time.

Andrew said for the beginning that he wanted one of Turner’s big gifts this Christmas was to be a rocking horse. So Andrew picked one out and even though Turner has some growing to do, I can tell he is going to love it. I also love the fact that Turner can save it and give it to his own child one Christmas. I am a lush for things like that.

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Presents weren’t the only thing Santa brought this year, he also delivered me a nasty cold. I am not quite over it yet, as I sit here hacking at my desk, but I am definitely on the mend. Luckily, Turner has seemed to pretty much avoid it other than some congestion that has him frustrated.

All in all it was a perfect holiday from start to finish. Time with family and friends is the perfect medicine for the soul. Without a doubt, this Christmas has reaffirmed how blessed I am.

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Oh, and tomorrow hopefully I will have time to post photos from Turner’s seven month, New Years themed birthday party we are throwing him tonight!

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The riddle of who to buy gifts for on Christmas

Side note: When I left for work this morning, Turner had not woken up for the day yet. Probably because around 5 a.m. this morning he decided to have a little party in his crib, but to leave for the day and not see him, heart breaking. I always at least get a few kisses, but this morning had to settle for a smooch on his head. I am sure this will happen more and more as he gets used to our new schedules, but I don’t like it one bit. So I have decided, I am probably only going to work a half day because there is no way I can go until 5:30 p.m. without seeing him. No way.

So, I need some advice (like always). What is the gift giving etiquette for Christmas when you have children? So far, there are several people who have gotten Turner Christmas presents, not me and Andrew,Turner. Do I give these people gifts? I know it is just for Turner and in the past they haven’t ever gotten Andrew or I gifts, but with this being the first Christmas with a baby, its different. I just don’t know what protocol is.

If it were up to me I would give everyone a present. I love giving gifts. I love being the reason someone smiles. Andrew thinks its weird and that I make people feel awkward if I give them gifts without getting one in return because it makes them feel bad for not getting me one.

For example, my best friend for the last 20 years (since we are about 5 or 6) came to visit from New York this weekend. It was her first time visiting Turner and with it being the holidays, she got him tons of awesome gifts that he just loved. While she and I do care packages for birthdays on occasion, we don’t really exchange Christmas gifts. But going to her family’s house on Sunday empty handed, knowing that she had gifts for Turner, made me feel awful. I feel like I should have gotten her something. But if I got her something, then she would feel obligated to get me something and the cycle never ends. I don’t feel obligated to give anyone a gift. Like I said earlier, I love giving gifts and would and actually do, get gifts for strangers if I think they need or appreciate them. But I just cannot get a grip on the protocol for this type of thing. (This is a prime example of what Andrew calls me thinking too much)

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Like we do every year, we will be going to have Christmas with Andrew’s stepfamily. They are amazing people and I absolutely love all of them. While we plan to get gifts for Andrew’s grandparents and great grandparents, there is a shady area on the rest of the family. If it was up to me, I would get his aunts and cousins gifts as well. Andrew said he has never gotten them gifts and doesn’t think he should. Well this year is a bit different because his Aunt had an adorable baby girl this year. So naturally, I want to get the baby a gift. Andrew liked the idea, so we did. But the problem we have now is, Andrew’s aunt has an older son, a teenager, and I do not know if we get him a gift. Andrew said he hasn’t ever gotten the teenager a gift and doesn’t know what to get him. I think its courtesy, plus, I like buying gifts. I cannot predict if Andrew’s aunt will get us a gift or if she will get Turner a gift, but I know her parents will, so its the polite thing to do, right? (If Andrew’s family is reading this, that may make things a bit awkward, and just pretend like you haven’t seen it, and if you were not planning on getting a gift, don’t feel obligated either)

It is all rather confusing. Turner’s God parents gave Turner a precious gift at church on Sunday. While I already have a gift for them, not just because they are Turner’s God parents, but they are also my pastor and his wife and Ruby’s (my sister) in-laws. Generally I wouldn’t have gotten them a gift, but I came across something at the store that I thought fit them just right so I got it. If that hadn’t been the case, since they got Turner a gift, does etiquette call for me to get them one in return?

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If anyone would like to solve this riddle for me, feel free because I am stumped!

 

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Making memories this Christmas

A small idea I had last year made me so thankful this Christmas. I don’t know where I saw it, I am sure it was on Facebook, or Pintrest or someone else’s blog, but when we were decorating the Christmas tree last night, an ornament in the very bottom of the bin made me so happy. 

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When we took down last year’s Christmas tree, before tossing it in the trash, I had Andrew saw off the bottom of the tree, so the following year (this year) I could turn it into an ornament. I had completely forgotten about it, but after all the other ornaments were hung, the piece of wood reminded me of last year and mine and Andrew’s first Christmas together. I was so excited to remember last year and so happy I thought to save that piece of the tree. 

This year, I plan to save the bottom of the tree again so we will have a piece of the first tree Turner ever had. I have debated about if I want to do it every year. If we did it each year, and write a special memory on each ornament, eventually, years done the road, we will have enough for the entire tree to be decorated with nothing but memories from past Christmases. I think I like the idea. It was something so simple, and didn’t cost a dime. 

Turner didn’t have any great reaction when we turned the lights on for the first time, but he does like to look at them. I can only imagine how difficult it is going to be next year when we he is crawling around and getting into everything! 

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God works in unexplainable, amazing ways!

I had originally planned to write about things I have learned in the first six month of being a parent. But yesterday a song came on the radio, and I felt compelled to blog a testimony of sorts. This won’t be much about being a parent, but when I was crying my eyes out going down the road listening to the song, the only thing I could think about is how much I needed to write this to be able to get out my feelings.

My favorite Christmas song has been Christmas Shoes by Newsong since I first heard it performed in a play probably 10 years ago. It has always kind of been mine and my mom’s Christmas song, because it just has such a beautiful message.

In case you are not sure of what song I am referring to, here are the lyrics:

It was almost Christmas time
There I stood in another line
 Tryin’ to buy that last gift or two 
Not really in the Christmas mood

Standing right in front of me was
 A little boy waiting anxiously 
Pacing ’round like little boys do
 And in his hands he held a pair of shoes

And his clothes were worn and old
 He was dirty from head to toe
 And when it came his time to pay 
I couldn’t believe what I heard him say

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my mama, please
 It’s Christmas eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, daddy says there’s not much time
 You see she’s been sick for quite a while 
And I know these shoes would make her smile
 And I want her to look beautiful, if mama meets Jesus tonight

He counted pennies for what seemed like years
 Then the cashier said, “Son, there’s not enough here”
 He searched his pockets frantically
 Then he turned and he looked at me

He said, “Mama made Christmas good at our house
 Though most years she just did without
 Tell me sir, what am I going to do
 Somehow I’ve got to buy her these Christmas shoes”

So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out 
And I’ll never forget the look on his face when he said
 “Mama’s gonna look so great”

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my mama, please 
It’s Christmas eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, daddy says there’s not much time
 You see she’s been sick for quite a while 
And I know these shoes would make her smile 
And I want her to look beautiful, if mama meets Jesus tonight

I knew I’d caught a glimpse of heaven’s love 
As he thanked me and ran out
I knew that God had sent that little boy
 To remind me what Christmas is all about

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my mama, please 
It’s Christmas eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, daddy says there’s not much time
 You see she’s been sick for quite a while
 And I know these shoes would make her smile
 And I want her to look beautiful, if mama meets Jesus tonight

I want her to look beautiful
If mama meets Jesus tonight

Well, when the song came on the radio yesterday and I really listened to the lyrics, it really resonated with me. If you haven’t my blogs about the passing of my father, I would suggest you read those, but the short version is my dad died suddenly in April with Liver Cancer. He died a month before my son Turner was born. I have tried to spend the last couple of months mourning in private. My two sisters are very different and post publicly about their struggles with his death on social media, but I try to keep it to myself. Well, after hearing that song, I just need to share this.

Last year, Andrew (my fiancé) and I went to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to do some Christmas shopping. I think it was the weekend before Christmas, nothing like last minute shopping. The first store we went to I had a bunch of presents for all of my family, and when I got to the check out counter, the cashier told me my card had been declined. Knowing that was impossible, I called my bank. Well, I ended up finding out that my bank had mixed up my bank account with someone else’s that had one number different. While they were figuring out the situation, my account was frozen. So although I had not done any Christmas shopping, and Christmas was days away, I didn’t have access to any money other than my credit card, which I didn’t want to max out for the holidays. Andrew, being the amazing man he is, offered to foot the bill until things could get straightened out and I could still get my family Christmas.

We continued our shopping trip, and at various shops I got things for my mom, my sisters and my niece, the normal crew I bought Christmas presents for. My dad, being the only man of the family, and an adult of course, I don’t think we ever got him gifts for Christmas or his birthday. We would get him practical gifts, like tires for his truck, but never anything extra or surprising. Well, after we had finished shopping for everyone on our list, we drove by a Carhart outlet store. My dad LOVED Carhart, and after mentioning that, Andrew didn’t hesitate to pull right in. I told him we didn’t have to, because not only did I not have any money, I had already gotten my dad something practical and it wasn’t necessary. Well, Andrew insisted. So we went to the shop and I picked out a couple of shirts, some overalls and a sweatshirt, all things I knew my dad would just love. Without even thinking twice, Andrew paid for it, and was happy to do it. I remember apologizing to Andrew for the mix up and thanking him so much for picking up the bill for Christmas. He just brushed it off and assured me it was no big deal. Neither of us knew at that moment what a big deal it was going to be, but I know that God did and that is exactly why he had things lined up the way it did.

Christmas morning after we had all opened our presents, I gave my dad his. It was so unexpected, he starting saying how I shouldn’t have, and Christmas wasn’t for him and he just wanted us to be happy. But as he opened his present, he was glowing. He was so grateful and overjoyed with every item he pulled out of that bag. Hugging the clothes in a joking manner, I could tell it made him happy. For the next few months of his life I could swear he wore something I got him at least every other day.

None of us could have predicted it was going to be our last Christmas together. There was nothing to show that I needed to do something extra for him that time, but I am sure God led me to do it. He knew what he was doing. He knew he was creating a memory for me to always hold so dear.

So when I heard the song last night, about the little boy not having the money to buy his mother something to make her look beautiful for when she met Jesus, all I could think about was God putting me and Andrew in that store last Christmas, and sending us to that exact point and that exact moment for me to be able to do the same thing for dad. Those Carhart put a smile on his face, just like the song said. And even more, the song talks about the shoes were just the right size. Well, my dad was a large man, so finding clothes to fit him was rare, and something he couldn’t do in our small little town. But the store we just happened to walk in that night had special sizes, just for my dad.

My dad started to get sick, even though we didn’t realize it by February. We didn’t know what it was, but when Andrew and I took my dad and mom out for their anniversary dinner in February, dad couldn’t eat because he was sick. But that night, the last happy night I got to spend with my dad, he was wearing the clothes I got him on Christmas, still smiling and bragging about what a great present it was for him.

There isn’t a doubt in my mind that the events of last Christmas were orchestrated by the hands of God. God wanted to give me a memory, he wanted to give me something that I could keep forever. I am sure that 10 years ago when I first heard that song, and every year since when my mom and I would turn that song up in the car and share a love for it, were the foundations of what the song would come to mean to us. I am sure God worked to get the bank accounts mixed up, so Andrew would have to loan me the money, so the song would have that much more of a meaning and purpose in my life. It was all part of his plan. Something I certainly couldn’t even begin to understand at the time, but last night, listening to it in the car, it all hit home and made sense.

We had my dad cremated, as were his final wishes, but before making that decision (actually it wasn’t a decision, the day my dad died, we found a note he had written years ago about his final wishes in a box of old pictures, another gift from God.) we had talked about having my dad buried in his Carharts because of how much he loved them. If we hadn’t been cremated, I am sure that is how we would have buried him, so he would have been wearing them when he finally got to meet Jesus.

Last year’s Christmas, the note we found the day my dad died, and how God has held my dad’s hand to lead him back to church in the final months of his life, are all true miracles. Things that didn’t seem special or even mentionable at the time, but now, are beautiful miracles that I will cherish forever.

Not only do I have a memory to hold on to, but I have a story that I can pass on to my son about his Papa. Something that one day, I will be able to share with him as well. It doesn’t matter how small something seems at the time, trust that it is all part of a greater plan. Love with everything that you have, learn to forgive and forgive as if its the easiest thing to do. Never pass up an opportunity to let your loved ones know what they mean to you, because you never know when it might be the last chance you get.

If you feel compelled to do so, please share this message. Thank you for taking time to read it and letting me share my story with you.

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Thanksgiving weekend fun!

What a week it has been. All in the same week, we moved into a new house, spent wonderful, quality time with family, and got a new job!

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So many new and exciting things are happening and with being a full-time mommy, it is stressful. I wish someone would have warned me about moving with a little one. Turner is not a fan of the process. He has yet to sleep solidly in the new house. I guess he just not comfortable enough and still al little confused. It makes me sad though. I guess in time.

Turner met Santa for the first time. No good fit or crying, although after being in his lap for several minutes, he did cry so I quickly came to his rescue!

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We celebrated Turner’s 6 month birthday party yesterday, which was our second night in the new house. And the first real night without things being completely upside down! This month’s theme was winter, and we had a cute elf costume that his Grandpa Debbie got him. It is so hard to believe I have been a mother for six months now. I am having to run off to a meeting for work, but tomorrow I plan to write an article on things I have learned so far being a mother. The list is extensive for sure.

I hate that this is short, but as soon as we get moved in and settled with everything, now that we have internet and phone service at the new house, I will be able to post in the evenings! That might be the thing I am most excited about!!

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My little santa

I happen to be in the office today, and while I do not have enough time to write a full blog entry, I wanted to share this perfect picture of Turner in his Santa outfit. I am just so in love with this little boy!

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My sister took the photo, she is a progressional photographer, check out her page: https://www.facebook.com/RubyPeoplesPhotography