Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Quiet Holiday in the Chi

According to our holiday rotation schedule we were to celebrate in Minnesota this year. But with Baby Girl #2 scheduled to arrive in just over a month (and my level of general comfort declining rapidly), we made the difficult decision to hang out in Chicago this year. While we missed sharing the festivities with the Westrom family (though we did get to partake via Skype), we enjoyed the peace & quiet (come February, we'll no doubt wish for more of this) of our own little celebration here in Logan Square.

On Christmas Eve we enjoyed a beautiful candlelight service along with many friends. This was followed by a delish dinner out at Feast in Bucktown. Since this was one of few restaurants open on Christmas Eve (the drive down normally busy North & Damen Aves. was eerily quiet) it was bustling with a fun mix of families, friends, and in particular, expectant couples (there were at least 5 others while we were there). It was fun (and almost movie-like) to seemingly all celebrate together while a beautiful snow fell on the quiet street outside.

Of course, Christmas Day was the highlight! Our fave gift from Elynor was her sleeping in until 9:30am (hopefully this trend will continue!?). After this late rising she was thrilled to find her stocking filled with gifts. Apparently our build-up to this event in the days leading up to Christmas was effective. On this, the first Christmas where she comprehended and fully partook in the events, I was reminded of life's simple pleasures through her innocent eyes. There were no Christmas lists or expectations beyond getting "something special for Elynor to celebrate God giving us Jesus". She was on cloud 9 with the $1 sunglasses and Reese's Peanut Butter trees she found in her stocking and the fact that Mommy and Daddy were both at home to play with her all day. She seemingly bounced from person to person around the room, just wanting to help with all the gifts. In fact, we had to take breaks between gifts so she would have even a chance of appreciating them all. She was excited to learn which extended family member sent each gift and talked about the giver almost as much as the gifts (thank you so many loved ones).

Beyond the gifts, we celebrated with a not-our-average breakfast and dinner here at home. Both have always been big deals in our family Christmases, so even though it was just the 3 of us, Rye & I wanted to maintain these elements as best we could. I spent most of Christmas eve prepping dishes with family connections as well as some newbies allowing us to simply cook and partake on Christmas day. Again, Elynor's recognition of and delight in these special meals (I think she loved everything) reminded me of why we invest the time and energy to celebrate through food. Of course, after all the prep & clean up, I did tell Rye he better enjoy the left overs, because I wouldn't be cooking again for some time. :)

As we consider what future Christmases will look like for our family, I pray we can maintain the essence of this celebration... the Childlike wonder, the simplicity, the togetherness, and the emphasis on Jesus.

Capturing the Christmas eve outfit on our busy girl was difficult... unless we can stage it again, this will have to do.

A classic Christmas morning shot (though I don't recall my parents being in any... I suppose it only happens a few times with the first child).

Delighted by her $1 sunglasses!

... And the Reese's Tree she got to share BEFORE breakfast!

Opening gifts takes awhile when you stop to read most books...

We're hoping this gift provides hours of entertainment after the arrival of Baby Sister.

A grand finale Christmas feast (yep, those PJs didn't come off all day)!

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