we had a lovely christmas in london. it was chaotic and messy, as is life generally with two wild little boys! and it was wonderful.
my only regret is that basically all of the pictures i took are so blurry and grainy! i cannot figure out how to get good photos – even with my really nice camera! – in our front room when the light is low. (any photographers out there that want to give me some tips?!) but maybe these photos just capture all the loveliness and wonderfulness and all of the chaos and mess? let’s go with that 😉
we had our traditional “jerusalem supper” on christmas eve. i made a delicious middle eastern meal, we invited some friends that might be experiencing some lonliness this time of year, and we talked about mary and joseph as we sat on the floor and ate by candlelight. it was a bit crazy with the kids, but definitely special. these are the only two pictures i got – one of the food and one that a friend sent me of us eating on the floor with our christmas cracker hats on – ha!
after, we got the boys in their christmas pajamas and set out on the most anticipated event of the season for our family – a “sub for santa” service project! we always try to help others in need with gifts and treats on christmas eve, and this year the boys and i spent december filling up two gift bags for two families, and on the night before christmas dropped them off anonymously. moses was seriously so pumped about this whole process. (gabriel was into it too, but didn’t quiiite grasp the idea yet 😉 and clearly wasn’t into taking photos with the gift bags before we headed out, hahaha!)
as we walked through london’s dark, quiet streets to deliver these goodies, moses turned his head up to ian and i from the buggy and declared, “it’s way more funner to give presents away than to get presents!” cha-ching! a parenting pay-off after what had felt like a lot of trying and failing in different ways with that boy. ian and i were so thrilled that mo caught on to the joy of giving this season. he was seriously shaking with excitement as we doorbell ditched the gift bags. it was such a great experience for our family.
we came home and sang some carols as we lit and watched the spinning of our german christmas pyramid, and then it was time for santa to come so we tucked the giddy children in bed! and then set out all the presents, ready for christmas morning.
oh, there was some preparation first! for mo with his cookies and carrots (he dictated this letter to me word for word), for ian acting as santa’s elf to assembly gabriel’s ride-on car, and for me stuffing stockings!
christmas morning is just my favourite. i always spring out of bed feeling soooo excited. as a child i loved this but i think i love it even more as a parent. hearing moses run to wake up his brother with an exuberant “gabriel!!!! it’s christmas!!!!” was the best. we gathered in the boys’ room and unstuffed our stockings.
the best stocking surprise was in mo’s – his very own camera! he was so thrilled!
then on to the santa gifts in the front room…! mo was more excited about creating with the stickers from his stocking, but eventually got soooo into the marble tracks santa brought him.
and the highlight of the morning definitely was seeing the boys give the gifts they had chosen (and carefully wrapped!) for each other. gabriel got moses a tool belt and moses got gabriel some animal bath toys! lots of joy for both giver and receiver.
we slowly worked our way through gifts to/from ian and i (ian did a particularly amazing job with the gifts he got me this year!) and gifts from grandparents. and spent the morning just playing and enjoying. i branched out from the eggs benedict i have had every single christmas morning of my life and we enjoyed a christmas strata (my sister’s recipe) for breakfast.
we always go to a church service sometime on christmas day. this year we went to a beautiful church that we’d never been in before, about a ten minute walk from our flat. it was wonderful to gather with other christians and celebrate the birth of our saviour!
gabriel has been sooo into walking everywhere lately, and i can’t get over how adorable his little stomp/run is (wearing his beloved wellies). he was delighted to walk all the way home from the church on christmas. (moses was working on his new animal sticker book in the buggy!) then it was back to playing with christmas toys and eating christmas treats at home.
i love the mess of christmas morning. we had a tradition to not clean up any of the wrapping paper or toys until the evening 🙂
we did finally clean up because we had some friends that live nearby over for christmas cake! like always, i made a chocolate peppermint birthday cake for jesus and we lit the candles and sang. it was really fun to have a gaggle of friends over to finish off the big day.
here’s a photo moses took of the gathering on his new camera! 🙂
and here’s some more from him memory card from throughout the day. i love seeing what he captures!
our christmas breakfast, and ian checking out his big gift (a flowbee haircutting system – he’s obsessed, haha!):
on boxing day we took our traditional bike ride! (ever since ian gave me a bike for our very first christmas married, we have gone on a bike ride the day of or the day after christmas!) we borrowed our neighbors’ bike with a baby seat, and i was intending on riding it while ian rode the other bike with gabriel on his back, but somehow it turned out that ian had both boys on his bike and i just rode on my own, haha! we just took a slow loop through the park, but i’m sure we (they!) were quite the sight to be seen! the boys loved it. gabriel kept throwing his hands in the air in glee and mo just relaxed in his seat taking photos with his new camera.
in the afternoon on boxing day, we went over to our friends’ flat for a chili dinner, white elephant gift exchange, and charades night. it was such a blast! the kids played together so well and we just all had a lot of fun.
the next day we got on an airplane and flew to portugal for a little very-end-of-the-year adventure!
christmas 2019 was blessed and sweet!
Just before reading your explanation, I thought: “I know, Charity loves the wrapping paper laying around. But man, it would drive me crazy!” 🙂
Thank you for sharing your lovely Christmas. Pictures delightful as usual.
SOOO fun to see all this! What a delight! Lucky, my eyes don’t see any blurry pictures! Well, maybe a few of Moses’s. Haha. Love this!
We did a marble run for Christmas this year, too – so much fun!
For your nice camera and photos… if you have a flash you can change the direction of, try pointing it directly at the ceiling (or turn it towards a wall, if your ceilings are high). Letting it bounce off the ceiling can really help so you don’t get that red-eyed flash look but no motion blur either.
I can’t help but noticing that you have many toys made of plastic. This makes me so sad. You just recently shared that you talked to your sister about possibilities to do more for the environment. And then you go ahead and buy toys of plastic? And did you take the train or the plane to Porto? What do you do for the environment and what do you teach your boys by your lifestyle??
thanks for your comment. i have been trying to be more and more environmentally conscious lately. i didn’t love that we had plastic toys for christmas gifts this year, and i wish wooden, etc alternatives were not so expensive! we do need to do better on plastics, this is one of my recent goals. we took the train from porto to lisbon. i try to make earth-friendly efforts like eating very little meat, using reusable products, and mostly just not buying many things. i like to think that not owning a car and mostly getting everywhere i go on a daily basis only via my feet is doing pretty good. i talk to my kids about not wasting and taking care of our earth every single day. but we definitely need to do better. i am always open to suggestions! (not buying plastic toys is a good one.)
The other benefit of wood toys is that they just look and feel better. Nicer to have in your front room where you see them all day. I admire you efforts to buy less stuff. With the money saved seems like the extra expense of attractive, high quality toys might feel worth it.
i agree wood toys look sooooo much better. for this christmas we couldn’t find non-plastic semi-equivalents of what the boys asked for that weren’t waaaay more expensive and out of our allocated christmas budget. so it wasn’t really money saved, if that makes sense. but agree wood toys are so much more attractive … and of course better for our earth!
I partly disagree. The generalisation that wooden toys are always better than plastic ones is wrong. First of all you have to consider health and safety issues as well. Wooden toys can be produced badly (resulting in splinters) or the varnish is harmful. So it really always depends on the exact material and production.
I’d rather but my son a long-lasting quality plastic toy than a cheap wooden toy.
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I remember learning, when my son was little, that the best selling car in the world is…….drum roll….the Cozy Coupe by Little Tykes! I laughed so hard, but it makes so much sense.
Hope your boys love that car as much as my son did 😉
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I loved the letter to Santa! That was so sweet! And you are so kind to share your life and your photos with complete strangers. Thank you.