01 January 2015

Christmas 2014

“That night, some shepherds were in the fields nearby watching their sheep. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them. The glory of the Lord was shining around them, and they became very frightened. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I am bringing you good news that will be a great joy to all the people. Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord. This is how you will know him: You will find a baby wrapped in pieces of cloth and lying in a feeding box.” Luke 2:8-12

Anyone else think it's crazy that the One who came to be the King of All of Everything didn't come to us ablaze with power and pronounced arrival? Of all things, He thought being a baby in a feeding box would do. He transcends circumstance so thoroughly that He figured it'd be just as well to put Himself in the most helpless situation outside of heaven. I don't want to ever get over that. 

The first days of December, we started trimming the tree. Hubs was intent on buying an artificial tree this year. He thought it would alleviate some Christmas chores for this season and next. Real trees are hard to get and dispose of with our Camry. They are beautiful and smell like memories, but they can also be hazardous to small dogs and baby boys. But the real reason we got a fake tree is deployment. Time is precious before he leaves and time is precious when he returns. The several months before and after a deployment are always the worst part. It's surprisingly the most difficult. I'm sure you've all seen the videos of military homecomings, and that part is one of the best feelings of life ever. But then real life settles in and it's hard work. Harder than normal. Harder than what you signed up for. Harder than any of the best homecoming feelings. You have to choose to live in each other's mess again. Just when you had gotten use to not having to- at least not in the day-to-day. And that mess is a hell of a lot messier when you've been separated by war. (I would say it might be imperative to start a new tradition of marriage vow renewal several months after each deployment, but please dear Lord and Father in heaven above, please let this be the last deployment our family will experience forever and forever amen.) Anyways, time is precious. So, if some thing is not directly about each other, it's not happening. But if some other thing just has to happen, it needs to as efficiently as possible. Thus, we came up with a Christmas short-cut. 

We don't necessarily get warm fuzzies from decorating a tree together, but we love it once it's up. So, we decorated with our wedding reception ornaments as usual this year. Then the day after Christmas, we saran-wrapped that bad boy and carried the entire decorated evergreen down to the basement. Next year, Hubs will come home, we'll walk the tree upstairs, unwrap it, and voila! We're already prepping to celebrate our Homecoming 2015. We've been dreaming and planning and mulling over what we have to hope for the holidays. Only 372 days til Christmas y'all!

One of our many outings…ice cream! Because we weren't getting cold enough in Alaska…seriously. It's been cloudy and gray and anywhere in the teens to the high thirties. We had a hard time getting below freezing. So it would rain, then the rain would turn to ice, then it would melt to slush, then it would ice over again. So, any daylight we do have is gray and dreary. Oh well. Making the most of it with Santa hats and Marble Slab!

Did I mention it's dark? Sunset this day was about 10:30am and this sunset pictured below was at about 3:30pm. Since December 21st was the shortest day of the year, we are so glad to be gaining sunlight more everyday!

Eli got an early Christmas present: a new walker! This is also kind of a present for momma. I'm hoping he learns how to chase Jessie soon and gives me some hands-free moments!

One night we got a little dolled up and went to eat at the Turnagain Arm Pit, a southern bbq place we discovered and LOVE nom nom nom. Afterwards, we finally made it to an Alaska Aces game. It wasn't a Preds game, but it was close enough. Hubs had some military vouchers from work, but we opted for sitting in the empty cheap seats so we could stretch out. The buzzers and bells are pretty obnoxious, so Eli's ear muffs came in super handy! The only downside was that the game started shortly before bedtime so we didn't stay long. We saw three goals and a fight and happily headed home. It was a blast!

Another rainy day activity was a trip to the Anchorage Museum. I think we walked through the entire thing. The ginormous paintings of Alaska landscapes were breathtaking. We walked though the planetarium and imaginarium that had everything from bubbles to reptiles to fun physics experiments. It will be such a cool place for Eli when he's a little older! We walked through an interesting section of Alaskan history with wildlife, models, boat and home construction, and chronological information of life in each region of the state. 

The part of the museum we had heard most about was the Lego exhibit. It was a really fun section and the detail, creativity, and preservation of each piece was really amazing. Plus, we found a Jessie!

Christmas Eve was reserved for Facetiming family. With so many different time zones and schedules, it was a better option than Christmas day. We made cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate, played a Christmas exchange game with my mom's family that morning, exchanged presents with Mimi that afternoon, opened gifts from Milee and Grandhops that night, and then made an appearance at Nana's get together to top it off. 

Later, Hubs had a great idea for our new tradition: A Christmas Fort! It worked so great Christmas Eve night, that we did it again Christmas night! Eli couldn't hang with us staying up watching movies and drinking hot chocolate, so he went to bed. Hubs and I were really ok with that though. It was like a mini-holiday-date!

Jessie got a new bed for Christmas! She was ecstatic. She got in it immediately after we brought it in and didn't get out of it for a good twelve hours. In her stocking, she was surprised to find a new rope with a tennis ball, four treat toothbrushes, a real wood chew stick, and sharper nail clippers. Yippeee! Eli's stocking had a tiny toothbrush, a feeder for frozen fruits and veggies, a teething toy, fox slippers, fuzzy socks, an Alaska moose shirt, and a dad bear for deployment. *tear*

After stockings and a delicious breakfast casserole, we went sledding! It was the most fun. We weren't out for too long since it was very windy, but it was the peak of our Christmas. Eli seemed to love going down the hill. He was a little unsure of the wind, but he was definitely having fun playing in the snow with dad!

We already have several other Christmas traditions we are excited to start as a family! How to experience such a big time in every year is such a fun thing for us to think about with a new human. For this year, our favorite part was that we were together! I'm betting that's our favorite next year too.

We locked in for three years in Alaska-- three snowy, white Christmases. Can you believe that we already have two down and only one left to go?? It seems like we pulled into town not long ago. We are only almost to the halfway-mark, so we still have time to explore this beautiful place. But I have a feeling the second-half is about to go quite a bit faster than the first!

Stay tuned for Part Two of our Holiday Leave Time!

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