I thought I had posted a holiday list to-do with the boys, only to realize that much of 2014, I had good intentions to post and then life happened. Our main theme of this holiday is to be selective on how we spend time. I forwent making holiday goodies tray for Bill's work. I phoned it in for my co-workers and bagged up chocolate covered peanuts, caramel corn, and chocolate drizzled kettle corn. No less that two teachers ate it for lunch when I parceled out bags at a meeting earlier in the week.
I also drastically cut back on holiday cards and only sent 1/2 of what I normally do in the past. I've said no to a neighborhood party because frankly I was just really tired and since I didn't plan to drink, thought it was a moot point to go when I knew few people.
So what have we been doing?
Ben and I did a holiday clay class in November and created this tree and snowman village for our kitchen table.
I took the boys to the Pullen Park Holiday Express. This year I bought three wristbands and took the boys right when they opened on a weekday night. We were able to ride the train without a wait. New this year was a giant snowman and pile of snow to have a snowball fight. Ben is desperate to have a real snow this year and upended some other family's fun when he and another dad got into a pelting war.
Obligatory Santa photo, and yes I thought the one with Ian and tongue out SO captured him at age 3.5
Sunday I took Ben to the Nutcracker at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC). Normally I would never pay the crazy high prices to see a real performance, but Groupon had a rush sale and the tickets were affordable. We dinned on hotdogs before the performance, ate smuggled M&Ms during intermission, and checked out a Festival of Trees afterwards. Ben made it through must of the performance but was really tired in the last 20 or so minutes. If local, this was a beautifully staged and performed version and I would return at a reduced ticket price.
Yesterday I surprised Ian at school to see his 3 year old class holiday sing a long. "Sing-along" is a subjective term as 80% of the kids had the deer in the headlights look and simply shook their jingle bells and shouted out specific words to the songs. Still, it was a treat that I was able to get permission to reschedule student lunch tutorials and attend during the middle of the day. Ian's face lit up when I saw him in all his 3 year old cuteness.
The only event left we haven't done is head out to Hillridge Farms, location of where we normally do a hayride. Our friends told us about a great light display, hayride, and photos with Santa. I'm thinking I may take the boys early on Christmas Eve night and make it a scavenger hunt to guess our final location.
Last year I made a grave mistake of driving out to the middle of nowhere (really just a rural county 45 mins away) to see a light display with a train. I should have heeded my friend's advice that it was a "different" take on Christmas. No lie, lit up teddy bears jumping out of presents staged next to a Jesus on a cross was a bit much.
So far, Ben and Ian are in the thick of excitement for Santa and I love that a nightly tradition from growing up with Brian was to read our family collection of Christmas books by the tree. Also in the ongoing Vinson family carrying on the Hendricks family tradition is the "tackiest Christmas holiday decorations contest." We already have the two houses in our own neighborhood that are must drive-bys each night on the way home from pick up.
I am again on planning on driving the boys out to Happyland lights and while not tacky, they certainly win a prize for highest light bill in January. It is the little things, the gift of time together, that I hope the boys will want to pass on to their own kids. I remember very few presents actually received for any Christmas minus a crappy Snoopy Cone machine, but what I do remember is the holiday through the lens of special, once a year activities that my mom made sure was part of each season.