Does anyone else miss the electric feel that comes with the holidays?
Even though the holidays aren’t that far behind us, the buzz and excitement feel like they are. Even last week when I was driving around my neighborhood and saw Christmas trees in windows and decorations on a house, I was so shocked because it seems like so long ago that we were in celebration mode.
You may remember a couple months back, I shared my holiday bucket list. I’d never made a bucket list for the holidays before, but since this was Cecilia’s first holiday season, I wanted to make sure to squeeze in every ounce of Christmas fun and start as many new family traditions as possible. In the last few years when I was working outside of our home full-time, I felt like the holidays always flew by and I never got to really enjoy them and soak in all the sparkle and fun. It would totally bum me out, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t feel that way this year.
I’m happy to say that we completed almost every single thing on my holiday bucket list and I’m so pleased with how we celebrated everything. Here’s a rundown of how it all went…
Family traditions started: I made salt dough ornaments for this first time since I was a kid! If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that I made these cute ornaments as gifts for our family using Cecilia’s hand and footprints. It was slightly challenging getting a perfect-enough print for each of these, so I’m hoping that gets easier each year. This year we went to the Christmas tree lighting at The Old Globe for the first time and Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo. We had a blast at the tree lighting and definitely want to keep doing it and are excited for next year’s Jungle Bells when Cecilia will have a better grasp at what’s going on and be able to participate in the fun activities for kids.
Favorite “new” thing we did during the holidays: Pretty much everything I listed above. I think, though, out of all of those, my favorite “new” thing was the tree lighting. I would go to the tree lighting in Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco every year with my family. I have such fond memories of the lightings over the years, so I’m happy I found out about this event. The cast from How the Grinch Stole Christmas did a little number and there was even fake snow!
Favorite memory from this holiday season: I loved our road trip to the Bay Area. We took our time with the drive and stopped along the way. I’m normally so set on getting to and from the Bay Area as fast as possible, but I absolutely loved how leisurely the trip was this year. We made stops at our favorite places along the route and had so much fun as a family of three.
Favorite Christmas song that was on repeat: My favorite Christmas songs of all time are James Taylor’s version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Nat King Cole’s version of O Holy Night. This year, though, I loved everyone’s version of What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? and Please Come Home for Christmas by The Eagles. Just thinking about these make me want to listen to Christmas music 24/7 again. Don’t judge me if I start talking about it again in July, okay?
Cecilia’s favorite gift: My sister made Cecilia this awesome kitchen and felt food. Cecilia isn’t quite tall enough to play at the kitchen yet, but loves messing around with the food. She also LOVES the fake phone and remote her grandparents gave her.
Favorite present I gave: I loved seeing our family’s reaction to the ornaments. I also canned spiced cranberries, spiced apple butter and pear and ginger preserves for family and friends and I’m so proud I got it all done, so I’ll add that to the list, too!
Favorite thing I ate: We stayed at an Airbnb in Berkeley over Christmas that was right across the street from Acme Bread Company. My husband bought a loaf of the MOST RIDICULOUS cinnamon walnut bread I have ever had and I still have dreams about it. Also, we met up with some family at the famous Fenton’s Creamery in Oakland and I shared a junior banana special with my sister and brother-in-law. That was RIDICULOUS, too.
How we celebrated Christmas: We began Christmas Eve by watching the new Star Wars. After that, we had a relaxing day at our Airbnb, did some last minute shopping on Fourth Street in Berkeley and made an amazing dinner that we enjoyed with my sister, brother-in-law, dad and step-mom. On Christmas Day, Cecilia woke us up bright and early, so we got straight to the present-opening with my family. We played with gifts for quite a while, took a trip to the swings and then headed to my cousin’s house for Christmas with my dad’s family. There we had a lovely dinner, played games and opened more gifts. All-in-all, it was a wonderful celebration!
How we celebrated New Year’s Eve: During the day, we relaxed at home and took a nice walk around our neighborhood. At 6:27pm, we counted down to “midnight” with Cecilia, some party hats and noisemakers to the Care Bear countdown on Netflix. By the time actual midnight rolled around, I was the only one awake. We’re such party animals.
What I learned: I learned that the holidays aren’t stressful if you actually take time to stop and enjoy each moment. Normally the holidays are always a stressful time for me, but they were far from it this year. I loved watching Cecilia experience holiday fun for the first time and I honestly wouldn’t change a thing about what we did. The holidays are always a time to look forward to and that rings even more true for me now that we have our sweet girl with us.