Friday, July 25, 2008

Christmas in July

It's official!! Christmas is half-way here! I L*O*V*E Christmas. I would put my Christmas tree up now and leave it up until December, if I hadn't just taken it down after Valentine's Day! There are so many things about the holiday season that make my heart sing, that I look forward to winter from about this point in the year on! (This is a long post, but it is deep, so I hope you will bear with me and read the entire message!

I love the traditions surrounding Christmas, I love the memories of all my childhood Christmases (is that a word?), I love Christmas shopping, I love Christmas decorations, I love Christmas music, I love Christmas movies, and celebrating the birth of our Lord.

Christmas has taken on a whole new meaning since I became a mommy. Being Santa is almost as fun as believing in him isn't it? I love searching for just the right presents, wrapping them, hiding them, and watching the joy on Kaylen's face as she unwraps each one!

We have started some fun family Christmas traditions in the last couple of years. Each December I wrap up 25 Christmas themed books and for the 25 days leading up to Christmas, I let Kaylen upon up one book that we read together each night at bedtime. She LOVES this version of an advent calendar. It stretches out the excitement of opening gifts for twenty-five days. I put the books away after the holidays so they are 'new' each Christmas. We have been doing this for the past three years now. People always ask how I come up with 25 Christmas books? Holy cow! I have at least FIFTY or more. I was a teacher for a long time so I bought them from book orders and the Scholastic warehouse book sale each December. Friends and family have contributed to our collection, so we have way more than enough to wrap one for each night!

Our most recent tradition started with Avery's birth I guess. We brought Avery home from the hospital on Christmas Eve, and Kaylen home rode with us instead of Grandma. On the way home Kaylen was noticing all of the Christmas light displays, and so now on Avery's real birthday we fix hot chocolate, load into the car and go look at Christmas lights. I love that even though our girls are young, we have our meaningful traditions that Kaylen really looks forward to.

Christmas of 2006 was a really difficult one for our family. Avery was seizing twenty to thirty times a day and was just days away from her first brain surgery. I was a nervous wreck about it. On December 22nd Avery celebrated her first birthday, but it was under the dark cloud of knowing the surgeries were just days away. We took Avery to have one year portraits done, but she was so drugged up from the seizure meds, that the pictures still make me sick to my stomach to this day when I look at them. All of the camera flashes at the studio made her go into a really bad seizure and so we left there, all of us in tears, without getting any good shots of her.

A friend of a friend who was getting into the photography business at the time, heard our story and offered to come into our home and take pictures of our girls. I don't remember feeling happy or joyful during those weeks leading up to Christmas and Avery's surgery, but these pictures capture none of the dread or despair I was feeling and looking at them brings a smile to my heart. I see only joy and love between two sisters in these sweet pictures and I am so thankful that we have these images to remind us that despite the unbearable situation we were dealing with that year, our girls still enjoyed and celebrated a beautiful Christmas that year!

I actually took these first two pictures myself.

The wooden rocking horse Daddy built for Kaylen for her first Christmas.

I LOVE this one!

There are hundreds more where these came from, so maybe I will find time to share a few more of my favorites tomorrow for "Flashback Friday.' In the meantime, Merry Christmas in July!

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Bethany said...

Isn't Christmastime so magical?! It has taken on a little different feel down here in the desert, but the wonder and sense of joy is still there!

Thanks for sharing some of your traditions and memories! I can't believe how much the girls have both changed! Kaylen still looked SO young!!

I hope you are having a great day!!!!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful moment in my day - to take a few minutes to be a with the Hart family this summer. As I'm reading all you're doing the events, the parties, the fun....I feel like I'm a part of it.....your writing is so beautiful Lisa.

The girls are beautiful - each in their own unique way. Kaylen has such beautiful dark hair, and Ms. Avery with her blond "do". What a pair of "yummies".

I love your preparation for storms idea...and I also am grateful you have a basement to make into a party room while you're waiting for the storm to pass.

You are inspiring me to start a blog - I love to write, would enjoy a chance to share my family...and maybe it's time!

Have a great weekend, I loved hearing about your traditions -and yes, it will be Christmas before we know it!

Lin Healde

Nikki said...

I LOVE Christmas! Somehow, being in Kansas and 7 hours away from my family just isn't the same. But.....becuase of that we have had to start our OWN traditions! I am totally stealing your 25 books idea! Morgan (and Ava) will LOVE it! And wasn't Christmas Caroling with the Daisies FUN last year? That really put me in the Christmas spirit! (And of course decorating cookies at your house)!

Anonymous said...

Love the pictures - Kaylen's pride and joy of being the big sister is so apparent and very cute!

Thanks for sharing them along with your memories/traditions.

Best always,

Amanda said...

I hope that your family has an easier Christmas this year! I haven't read your whole blog yet, but I just came across it, and had to comment!

I was there with you last Christmas. Our little girl was to have surgery January 10th, 15 hours from home. For me it was a rush to get through it so we could have her surgery. I'm looking forward to enjoying our holiday this year, and making it special!

Anonymous said...

Christmas is the most wonderful time of year! The love, joy, hope and giving. Celebrating the birth of Jesus is the best part! You have beautiful traditions that are heart centered and I think that is SO cool! I saw your tree last year and I can totally understand why you would want it up all the time!

Christmas is much better here in KS than it was in GA for us. We are closer to g'ma & g'pa's. (4-5 hrs) So, we get to celebrate with them and we love it!

Your girls are so precious and you are quite a photographer! The love in their eyes is beautiful to see! I have really enjoyed spending time with you and all the GS and getting to know each one of you! I hope we get to spend more time together in the future.

Thank you for sharing your blog with me. I am touched to be included! It is so neat. It makes me want to get busy updating our web page. It has been years since I worked on it! I'll let you know if I get it updated.

Jill Sorsen

Just me.....Shelly said...

what a wonderful, wonderful post....your girls are so cute and your story so amazing! Thank you thank you thank you for stopping by my sweet of you!
p.s. gymbo BETTER get on that bandwagon!!!